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Hundreds of Bitcoin-mining servers stolen in Icelandic heist

Roughly 600 servers were stolen in one of the biggest criminal operations the country has ever seen.

Criminals have stolen approximately 600 servers from Icelandic data centers used to mine cryptocurrency.

Over the weekend, theAssociated Press reported the theft, which law enforcement says is one of the biggest series of thefts Iceland has ever experienced.

Mining rigs are powerful computers bent to the task of mining cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin.

While standard consumer PCs are not powerful enough for mining tasks without the addition of decent GPUs, the kind of equipment you find -- usually -- safe and locked away in data centers is capable of mining far more successfully and on a larger scale.

The stolen equipment is estimated to be worth close to $2 million. While 11 individuals have been arrested in connection with the thefts -- including a security guard -- the equipment has not been recovered.

It was hoped that by keeping quiet for a few months, law enforcement would be able to track down the thieves and stolen hardware.

According to Visir, the servers were only a financial loss as no data was stored on the systems.

If the mining rigs are used, rather than sold, they could generate far more income in cryptocurrency than they make as being traded as stolen goods.

However, the power surge required to operate the servers as miners could also be a way for law enforcement to track down the missing items.

Read also: SEC pursues dozens of companies in cryptocurrency ICO crackdown

Iceland's climate and access to renewable energy has made the country an area in which data center construction and outsourcing has become a popular business model.

Hydroelectric, solar, and wind power reduce the cost of operating data centers -- and the knock-on effect is that mining is also cheaper and so cryptocurrency operations are not uncommon.

Icelandic police commissioner Olafur Helgi Kjartansson said the thefts, which occurred in December and January at various data centers, took place on a "scale unseen before" and the evidence points to "highly organized crime."

Two people out of those arrested remain in custody.

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