£1.5m BitCoin Data Centre Heist Due To Sleeping Security Guard


Iceland has become a hub for data centres and cryptocurrency mining operations because cheap energy and low ambient temperatures which make it a low-cost destination. The nation also has a low crime rate. The raids started in December 2017 when three data centres were cracked in December. Another raid took place in January. Icelandic police have arrested 11 people in connection with four raids on data centres that held BitCoin mining equipment.

The data center did have an overnight security guard, but he claims to have laid on a couch during his shift and immediately fell asleep. While he was sleeping, someone had broken into the data center and stolen 600 Bitcoin mining computers, along with motherboards, graphics cards, and power accessories—a haul worth £388,000 for the hardware alone. It was the fifth cryptocurrency data center in Iceland to be hit in two months. The total take: £1.5 million in enterprise-grade computer hardware.

Data centres always take digital security very seriously, with laws requiring customer data to be encrypted and hardware encryption devices which ‘dump’ their encryption keys if servers are removed without authorization, rendering the data unreadable to thieves.

However, with booming black markets around the globe for enterprise-grade server hardware including GPUs, RAM, CPUs and SSDs, thieves will often target data centres with low physical security, as the parts themselves can be exchanged for untraceable cryptocurrency.

How to protect your data centre

Data centres can always benefit from a perimeter intrusion detection system, such as our VibraTek Plus microphonic sensor cable placed on their perimeter fence. Combined with our VibraSector analyser, this system will immediately raise the alarm whenever an intruder attempts to climb over or cut through a fence, and most importantly it doesn’t rely on a security guard to constantly monitor CCTV cameras looking for potential intruders.

Additionally, the walls and roof of the data center itself can be protected with VibraFon seismic sensors to detect criminals breaking through using hammers or cutting tools. Wall-breach intrusions are becoming ever more common as criminals carry out copy-cat attacks on businesses after the Hatton Garden burglary in 2015.

When combined with a security management system and CCTV cameras, intruder alarms can be monitored, verified and appropriate action taken from the safety of the security control room. For unattended sites, or sites with no overnight security personnel, alarms can be relayed to key-holders or other staff by SMS text message.

Finally, all our systems are supplied with a two-hour backup battery system. If power is lost, this will raise the alarm and your security team can investigate immediately, rather than the alarm system silently shutting off.

Most of our system installations are carried out on sites which have already suffered from crime such as trespassing, burglary, or other intruder related events, but we always prefer to install systems as a preventative measure before a customer has been the victim of crime.

Don’t rely on CCTV as your sole security measure. Instead, use it to verify alarms which are picked up by your perimeter intrusion detection system.

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