This feature can also be found at the South West Londoner, here.
hidden function in globally used anti-cheating software generated
almost $4,000 for an e-sports company, statements revealed this week.
Entertainment Association (ESEA) distributed the program for users who
would be competing in tournaments, but within the code was a function
that uses computer processing power to earn a digital currency called
Users noticed that
their computers were running slower and electricity bills had increased,
complaining on the ESEA website about the issue.
One of the website staff members, known as 'lpkane', issued an initial statement to the queries.
He mentioned that it
was an idea between him and another staff member, 'jaguar', to implement
the function as an April Fool’s joke.
He said: "Jaguar and I were talking about how cool it would be."
He went on to claim
that they had disabled the mining functionality, after testing it on
their own accounts for a few days. Then, a server error resulted in the
'joke' program being distributed to clients.
statement, he said that the program had been live for 48 hours and
earned around two Bitcoins (roughly $280 at time of writing).
However, a more formal statement made by the ESEA owner, Craig Turnball, put the mining total at $3,713.50, occurring over two weeks since April 13th.
He says that he was
aware of the initial testing phase of the mining functions, but gave no
instruction to apply it to user accounts.
Mr Turnball said: "We are extremely disappointed and concerned by the unauthorized actions of this unauthorized individual."
The Bitcoin mining
function has since been removed from the software and the value of the
Bitcoins mined will be donated to the American Cancer Society, along
with a donation of the same amount from ESEA themselves.
There has been no
mention of whether lpkane or jaguar have been identified as the
"unauthorised individual" or if any action is being taken against them.
Some Background on Bitcoins
Established in 2008
by Satoshi Nakamoto, Bitcoins are electronic cash designed to be
transferred with no exchange rate between computers, and can be
converted into legal tender. Although the currency is used globally, it
is commonly compared to US dollars in value.
‘cryptographic’, using a complex coding system for authenticity and to
ensure the same Bitcoin isn’t spent twice. Due to their non-corporeal
nature, the actual value of Bitcoins tends to fluctuate often.
non-mediated system of Bitcoins allows for trading of goods and services
with minimal intervention from banks, there is a lot of criticism about
the currency’s stability and legality.
In its early stages, the non-traceable nature of Bitcoins allowed a website, Silk Road, to freely trade drugs and other contraband.
A man under the handle of ‘Killhamster’ runs a Bitcoin satire website, called Buttcoin. The site archives news about the currency and those that use it, highlighting dangerous or strange behaviour.
His documentation of
various screen captures from online message boards and Twitter accounts
is rather contentious among the Bitcoin community.
To generate Bitcoins,
a computer does a series of complex equations, and upon completion, a
central server rewards a number of Bitcoins.
Initially, users were
awarded with 25 Bitcoins for every block of equations completed. As
more Bitcoins enter the economy, the amount rewarded has decreased. The
complexity of the equations is designed to be proportionate with the
power of the computer.
In some cases the
processes can cause damage to the machine, as the calculations can
caused increased processor strain, and greatly increase electricity
usage. Computers designed for playing video games have better processors
create specifically designed machines for Bitcoin mining. Some are
professionally built machines costing thousands of dollars; some are
jury-rigged setups with multiple graphics cards and cooling fans.
Sloppy builds are a
health hazard – in January a house fire broke out in Ottawa, Canada as a
Bitcoin miner’s rig short circuited. The fire resulted in $300,000 in
Avalon Asics are the
present leaders in producing hardware with the sole purpose of mining.
They will only accept Bitcoins as payment for their services.