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Rogue Employee Turns Gaming Network Into Private Bitcoin Mine

• Robert McMillan via

If you’ve been playing Counter-Strike on the ESEA gaming network, you’ve been doing a lot more than tossing virtual hand grenades and firing virtual machine guns. You’ve been mining Bitcoins for an unnamed staffer inside the company that runs the network.

The mining started on April 13 and may have affected as many as 14,000 gamers.

ESEA distributes “anti-cheat” software that allows subscribers to play the Counter-Strike first-person shooter game on their network. The software gives players better data on their game play and cuts down on the use of known game cheats, which can give opponents an unfair advantage. The network has close to 14,000 paying customers, according to co-founder Craig Levine. He isn’t sure how many customers had their machines used for mining, however.

Last month, ESEA started toying with the idea of adding a Bitcoin mining option to its anti-cheat client, but shelved the idea on April 12, Levine said in an e-mailed statement.

But the next day, an employee went ahead and started distributing the code “for his own personal gain,” Levine says.

“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. As of this morning, ESEA has made sure that all Bitcoin mining has stopped. ESEA is also in the process of taking all necessary steps internally to ensure that nothing like this ever happens again.”

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