Harvard’s 14,000 core Odyssey cluster was illicitly used to mine the up and coming cryptocurrency.
Harvard’s Odyssey cluster is commonly used for researching new clean energy materials and running simulations on the inner working of the human mind. However, one researcher decided to use the 14,000 core cluster to mine Dogecoin.
Dogecoin is a new virtual currency that is starting to see mainstream user interest. Unlike Bitcoin, Dogecoin can be profitably mined using simple CPUs. The downside is that a single Dogecoin is worth about $0.0012. But mine enough Dogecoin, and you stand to make hundreds and thousands of dollars should you find someone willing to buy them.
Mining Dogecoin is fairly intensive on the CPU, and this is how the researcher was caught. Harvard staff noticed an abnormal amount of usage in one cluster node, and further investigation led to the discovery of the algorithm used for mining Dogecoin. What followed later should be fairly obvious. The researcher was shown the door and the powers that be reiterated that usage of the cluster for any non-scientific activities would result in a ban.
Assistant Dean for Research Computing James A. Cuff sent out an email to all researchers stating, “Odyssey and Research Computing resources can not be used for any personal or private gain or any non research related activity. Accordingly, any participation in “Klondike” style digital mining operations or contests for profit requiring Harvard owned assets to examine digital currency key strength and length are strictly prohibited for fairly obvious reasons. In fact, any activities using our shared resources for any non scientific purpose that results or does not actually result in personal gain are also clearly and explicitly denied.”
Cuff confirmed that the Dogecoin-mining researcher “no longer has access to any and all research computing facilities on a fully permanent basis.” While the researcher was caught in due time, it is likely that he or she turned a significant profit considering the fact that no overhead costs were involved. A study found that over half of all Dogecoin was mined by last week, which should come as no surprise.