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Unauthorised bitcoin mining continues, as US agency suspends researcher

A US national agency has suspended one of its researchers for using a supercomputer to mine bitcoins at two universities.

According to a report released by the National Science Foundation (NSF), more than $8,000 (£4,760) worth of bitcoins had been mined using NSF computers worth over $150,000.

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While the perpetrator has suggested that he was merely carrying out a test, the NSF has recommended his suspension for the unauthorised use of equipment and his use of supercomputer resources has since been terminated.

The report went on to say, "Both university reports noted that the researcher accessed the computer systems remotely and may have taken steps to conceal his activities, including accessing one supercomputer through a mirror site in Europe."

In a similar incident this February, a Harvard researcher was permanently banned from using the university's high powered Odyssey network, after he was found mining a bitcoin derivative, known as dogecoin.

Digital currencies have seen a spectacular rise in popularity over the last year, with bitcoin being the principle variant. Just last week, Apple announced that it will now permit the use of virtual currencies on its App Store, after previously removing all apps that used the bitcoin wallet earlier in the year.

Read more: 5 cryptocurrency alternatives to bitcoin

The latest news from Apple saw bitcoin prices reach $665 (£396), according to CoinDesk. Prior to this the currency had enjoyed steady growth for months and with the possibility of such high financial reward, the unauthorised mining of bitcoins looks set to continue.