ESEA Member unisolsz discovered that the client required to play on ESEA was running a bitcoin miner. Information about the exploit was posted to the ESEA’s forums to inform the community that they have been unknowingly farming Bitcoins. This was brought to light by this user noticing excessively high idle GPU usage.
Mining is the legitimate, and deliberately system-intensive process of adding transaction records to Bitcoin’s public ledger – generating Bitcoins for the miner in the process. The ESEA client had been pooling the GPUs of users in order to generate money for the ESEA staff.
ESEA co-founder Eric ‘lpkane’ Thunberg responded to this accusation, originally claiming it was a mistakenly released April Fool’s joke. His first statement was:
“Lol that got aggressive quickly. Back towards the end of march, as BTC was skyrocketing, Jaguar and I were talking about how cool it would be if we could use massive amounts of GPUs logged into the client to mine. We went back and forth about it, considered doing something for April fools, didn’t get it done in time, and eventually elected to put some test code in the client and try it on a few admin accounts, ours included.
We ran the test for a few days on our accounts, decided it wasn’t worth the potential drama, and pulled the plug, or so we thought.
Fast forward to 48 hours ago, a fuck up in the client server results in a restart which results in a setting getting changed which enables it for all idle users, and here we are.”
Thunberg claimed the combined efforts of ESEA users’ unaware mining netted them roughly 2BTC, or $280, which he promised would be put towards the Season 14 prize pot.
He came back with a second statement, after users pointed out that anti-viruses had been flagging the client for longer than the claimed 48 hours. He admits the mining had been part of the client since 14th April, and that the overall money mined totaled $3,602.21, before going to say:
“So first the bad news, this is way more shady than I originally thought, and as the person who is ultimately responsible for everything it’s 100% my fault.
Now the good news, as of the client update released in the last hour, all the BTC stuff is out which should solve the GPU and AV warnings.”
Thunberg once again promised to use the now substantially higher total as part of the Season 14 prize pot, and that – as recompense for the additional strain that’s been placed on user’s GPUs – would gift a free one month Premium code for Premium account holders. He finished by saying, “once again, our bad, thanks for keeping us honest.”
another interesting quote that has surfaced…
ESEA user nick561 asked this: “have u been using all of esea servers to mine bitcoins”
lpkane’s response: “why do that when i have thousands of users concurrently running the client?”
Also, an interesting conversation on a Twitch.TV account showing a member of ESEA’s development team discussing adding bitcoin mining functionality into their client surfaced yesterday.
Update 2: Craig “Torbull” Levine has released an official statement here