Iceland may be a small country boasting a population of around 300, 000, but they have managed to put themselves in the spotlight in recent years. If knocking England out the Euros and playing in the World Cup this summer wasn’t exciting enough, they have also recently come into the news for one of the biggest thefts in their small nation’s history.
Up to Six hundred bitcoin mining computers have been stolen in Iceland with up to 11 people arrested so far in connection with the one of the biggest bitcoin heists yet. It’s not so much about the theft of the bitcoin’s themselves but rather that of the equipment used to earn them. The stolen computers are said to be worth almost £1.5m, with the thieves potentially able to make more money if they choose to use the computers to mine the cryptocurrency and sell it. Only a theft pointing to organised crime could be so well arranged on such a large scale.
Bitcoin became mainstream after hitting the news when its value peaked up to 20 times. The digital currency doesn’t have a physical form such as a bank or transaction record but uses numbers stored on a blockchain to identify itself. The blockchain is essentially a ledger that keeps a record of all transactions that take place across a network. The supply of bitcoin can only be increased by a process known as mining. For each bitcoin transaction, a powerful computer owned by a bitcoin miner must solve a mathematical problem. Computers will race one another to make the calculations needed to assemble the shared ledger for the virtual currency, known as the blockchain. The miner then receives a fraction of a bitcoin as a reward.
Iceland is a popular cryptocurrency-mining location because the process is extremely energy-intensive, and renewable energy is cheap and in abundance there. It’s cold climate is instrumental in cooling the energy-consuming servers, and it has low electricity prices. Due to this Icelandic police are currently monitoring energy usage to locate the equipment. Unusual high energy consumption could reveal the illegal bitcoin mines location with electricians and internet providers being put on alert for power requests.
This is not the only recent example of bitcoin-related crime recently making an appearance into the physical world. Taiwanese police said they suspected four gangsters of violently assaulting two men and forcing them to transfer bitcoin’s into an account. Hackers also recently hijacked thousands of government websites in the UK to help them to mine digital currencies.
The world’s first cryptocurrency could well come crashing down, not by its market but by crime. Bitcoin could essentially be seen as a game for people who want to find that quick fix of wealth which is indicative of the times we live in.
Written by Ben Watts
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