Norway’s intelligence services suspect the Russian miners in espionage

Norway’s intelligence services suspect the Russian miners in espionage

Large Russian investment in a new mining facility in Norway has caused a number of questions — why here, why now? The Russian New Mining Company to invest billions of crowns in a project to install thousands of powerful computers just a few kilometers from the scene of a large-scale NATO exercises. Local companies are also involved in the project, and the Norwegian intelligence service is already interested in to find out what is coming from Russia containers.

Construction will begin in August, but eight containers of equipment have already been delivered to the site in the municipality Alvdal. The region has already attracted cryptocurrency companies from Israel, China, Japan, Kazakhstan and the USA, offering low tariffs for electricity and infrastructure. However, everyone is interested in the question of why Russian miners migrate to Norway when their country offers good conditions for cryptocurrency mining.

Trident Juncture 2018, the largest military activity of the NATO-led in the history of the countries-members of the Nordic countries, will start on 5 October in the neighboring municipality of Tynset, a few kilometers from the planned concentration of computing power from Russia. 40,000 troops and 130 aircraft will be based South of røros, in the municipality of the County Trondelag.

According to the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten, the proximity of the Russian mining-object to the theatre planned maneuvers of the Alliance attracted the attention of the Norwegian intelligence services. Local residents also wonder why Russians so suddenly chose this area and why now.

Mining-the center will be built 5 km North-West of Alvdal, on the edge of a dense forest. Representatives of the company Nordanvind, which controls the building, has already met with the Norwegian authorities to provide detailed information about the project:

“We believe that the arrival of the Russians (and NATO exercises) here — pure coincidence. The equipment they brought in containers that are easy to learn. I don’t think it can be used for anything other than bitcoin mining”

Johnny Andersen, the representative of the New Mining Company in Norway, also tried to defuse the situation:

“As far as I know, the Russian owners are serious guys. They understand that the Norwegian intelligence services are very interested in their activities. They expect a check, and they are not afraid of anything”

But many are unsure the true purpose of the project. Torgeir Waterhouse, Director of Internet and new media the Norwegian Association of IT industry (IKT-Norge), emphasized that only those who have direct access to the equipment to determine exactly what it is designed for computers. He believes that it is possible to use the miners for powerful cyber-attack, albeit a limited scale. However, he noted that often such attacks are made secretly and from a distance.

The security service of the Norwegian police (PST) has confirmed that she is informed about the imminent arrival of the Russians:

“We know about construction, but we prefer not to comment on these events,” said Martin Bernsen, senior Advisor PST. “The NATO exercises, no doubt awaken the interest of foreign intelligence services”, he added.

Norwegian military intelligence is also acknowledged that it had received reports of Russian project. However, a spokesman for the Norwegian commander Per-Thomas Battle stressed that the PST has the right to speak on this issue on behalf of all of the Norwegian authorities. The national security Agency (NSM) simply commented on the situation:

“We know the situation and we refrain from further comment,” said Hans Christian Pretorius, Director of cyber security in the NSM.

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