Steam Game Accused of Hijacking PCs to Mine Cryptocurrency
A new phenomenon, called cryptojacking, is replacing ransomware as the biggest threat to online users — according to some sources. Moreover, it seems that gaming industry giant, Steam, may be unwittingly contributing to it through its “anything goes” content policy on its game store.
Abstractism: Cryptojacking Disguised As a Steam Game
Indeed, as originally reported by YouTuber SidAlpha, one specific game that was, until just recently, distributed on the official Steam Store — Abstractism — seemed show telltale signs of being cryptojacking malware.
Although it actually is fairly difficult to detect cryptojacking malware, there are some signs to look for, including two notables ones: increased CPU and GPU use. Both of these signs have been consistently reported by Abstractism players.
The game’s developer, Okalo Union, has dismissed these complaints as players simply choosing to play the game with “high graphic settings.” The game itself is billed as a run-of-the-mill “platformer” game, which is to say it’s a simple 2D design and requires very little in terms of graphics rendering.
Given this fact, it seems unlikely that this is actually the case as the game should not require much in terms of processing power. Furthermore, the game had very low recommended settings listed for the game on its Steam store page
To make matters worse, Okalu Union was pretty much caught red-handed admitting to mining Monero through the game, albeit in confusing and highly contradictory post.
The So-Called Cryptojacking Trend Continues
People shouldn’t be too hard on Steam and, to its credit, the platform seems to have completely pulled the game from its store. It’s not the first instance of cryptojacking either, not by a long shot.
According to a researcher, almost 2,500 cases have already been documented,as of late last year, of sites employing cryptojacking programs to leverage visitors processing power to mine crypto.
These sites use a programming interface, called CoinHive, to execute this often hidden activity in the background — while users peruse their site’s content. In addition, at least 4 apps that are accessible on Google Play — two of which have a combined 15 million downloads, also employ cryptojacking techniques.
Bitsonline originally reported on the Coinhive software when it was used in a high-profile case by The Pirate Bay. The site used the programming interface to mine Monero, something they did to test it out as an alternative source of revenue
What do you think of SidAlpha’s claim that the Steam game, Abstractism, was used for cryptojacking? Let us know in the comments below.
Images via Steam, Coinhive