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A Baidu sign seen at the World Internet Conference (WIC) in Wuzhen, China, on October 20, 2019. (Picture: Aly Song/Reuters)

Baidu staffer jailed for mining US$14,000 worth of bitcoins with company servers

Cryptocurrency trading is banned in China, but not mining it

This article originally appeared on ABACUS
Mining cryptocurrencies involves solving complex math problems, which requires lots of computing power and electricity. But at its peak in late 2017, getting just one bitcoin could have netted you  more than US$19,000. And it was around the time that one Baidu engineer decided to become a miner -- with the help of company servers.
According to a recently disclosed court document, An Bang was a senior engineer responsible for the maintenance of Baidu’s search engine. Between April and July of 2018, he downloaded crypto mining scripts -- software that directs servers to mine cryptocurrency for a website -- onto some 200 Baidu servers. The servers mined Monero -- a cryptocurrency that can be converted to bitcoins -- and eventually sold them for around 100,000 yuan (US$14,300).

Baidu called the police after it noticed unusual activity on a large number of servers. An was sentenced to three years in prison and fined 11,000 yuan (US$1,570) last month for illegally taking control of a computer system. 

While cryptocurrency trading is banned in China, the country decided late last year not to ban mining it.

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