E-sports league made $Trio,600 using the power-hungry GPUs of its users, admin admits.
by Dan Goodin – May 1, 2013 7:57 pm UTC
Competitive movie gaming community E-Sports Entertainment Association secretly updated its client software with Bitcoin-mining code that tapped players’ computers to mint more than $Three,600 worth of the digital currency, one of its top officials said Wednesday.
The admission by co-founder and league administrator Eric ‘lpkane’ Thunberg came amid complaints from users that their ESEA-supplied software wasgoed generating antivirus warnings, rekentuig crashes, and other problems. On Tuesday, one user reported usage of his power-hungry graphics processor wasgoed hovering te the 90-percent range even when his PC wasgoed idle. Te addition to consuming electro-stimulation, the unauthorized Bitcoin code could have placed undue strain on the user’s hardware since the mining process causes GPUs to run at high temperatures.
“Turns out for the past Two days, my rekentuig has bot farming bitcoins for someone ter the esea community,” the person with the screen name Love ESEA SHEEP wrote. “Fortunately I have family ter the software forensics industry.”
About five hours straks, a separate user posted evidence of the ESEA software client included the Bitcoin code. The user also provided instructions displaying how other ESEA players can check to see if their computers are running the secret program.
A few hours straks, Thunberg published his own postbode disclosing that ESEA software had included the Bitcoin miner for a little overheen two weeks and deposited a little more than 29 BTC into three wallets under the control of ESEA officials. The digital currency wasgoed regularly converted into US dollars and netted a total of $Trio,602.21 spil of Wednesday. The figures were ter stark tegenstelling to an earlier postbode that said the Bitcoin code ran only for a few days and generated only about $280 worth of bitcoins.
“So very first the bad news, this is way more shady than I originally thought, and spil the person who is ultimately responsible for everything it’s 100% my fault,” Thunberg wrote te the straks postbode. He went on to say the ESEA client software had bot updated to eliminate the mining code and that all of the money generated by user machines would be waterput into a prize pot. He also agreed to give users of ESEA’s premium service one free month.
Spil many Ars readers already know, Bitcoin mining is a legitimate activity when carried out by informed people using their own hardware and electro-stimulation. The “proof-of-work” tasks required to generate the digital coin improves Bitcoin security by adding transaction records to the public ledger of the currency. But because the mining process is enormously system intensive, a cottage industry has sprung up that uses malware to corset the computing resources of unwitting victims.
Thunberg’s admission that ESEA ran Bitcoin-mining software without explicit user consent is startling. Aside from potentially opening the company up to phat legal liability, the stir is likely to engender distrust among some of the company’s most loyal ventilatoren. The nonchalance of some of Thunberg’s comments may only add insult to the betrayal many users are likely to feel.
“But for the record, I told jag he shouldn’t be lazy and run the miner te a separate process,” he wrote ter a postbode, referring to one of his software engineers with the screen name Jaguar, who didn’t take steps to conceal the Bitcoin miner. “Rookie budge.” Te the zometeen postbode he wrote: “100% of the funds are going into the s14 prize pot, so at the very least your melted gpus contributed to a good cause.”
While the comments may be intended to be playful, they also suggest a lack of contrition on the part of ESEA. Sneaking GPU-intensive code into client software represents a serious breach of trust, and so far company officials—who didn’t react to Ars’ request for an interview—have yet to publicly acknowledge the uphill battle they face ter repairing the harm.
ESEA has published a postbode titled “Bitcoin Fiasco” that apologizes to users and attempts to explain how the secret code wasgoed added. The code wasgoed primarily folded into a version of the client used by two consenting admins and after geschreven testing officials determined to scrub the beta trial. The postbode continued:
On April 13, 2013, after the initial tests, ESEA informed those involved te the test that wij were killing the project and they should zekering using the beta test. It came to our attention last night, however, that an employee who wasgoed involved ter the test has bot using the test code for his own private build up since April 13, 2013. What transpired the past two weeks is a case of an employee acting on his own and without authorization to access our community through our company’s resources. Wij are utterly disappointed and worried by the unauthorized deeds of this unauthorized individual. Spil of this morning, ESEA has made sure that all Bitcoin mining has stopped. ESEA is also ter the process of taking all necessary steps internally to ensure that nothing like this everzwijn happens again.
The postbode went on to say the amount generated by the sale wasgoed $Trio,713.55. ESEA will be donating it to the American Cancer Society and will match 100 procent of it for a total of $7,427.Ten.