An indie game on popular gaming platform Steam has been accused of whipping up a cryptocurrency mining botnet comprised of users’ machines.
The “trivial platformer”, dubbed ‘Abstractism’, has been marketed on Steam as a game with a “relaxing atmosphere” and has been found out to be a decidedly dodgy game with an insidious nature. The game has seen plenty of negative reviews with screenshots that reveal evidence of a malicious Trojan virus coupled with a malware that have been installing cryptocurrency mining software on users’ computers.
Fundamentally, the scenario is just another instance of ‘cryptojacking’ wherein malware developers use the victim’s computing power – including the GPU and the CPU – to mine cryptocurrency without the users’ knowledge.
Eventually, it took YouTuber SidAlpha to investigate these complaints and conclude that the game was likely to be installing crypto mining software on PCs. Okalo Union, the game’s developer, has claimed that the spike in GPU and CPU usage only occurs when players opt for the “high graphics settings” preset, a claim inconsistent with what is in essence a relatively simple indie game.
SidAlpha further suggested that the developer’s recent listings on “item drops” blatantly encourages users to keep the game running all day which means more coins mined for the developer while on the dime of the user. The investigation on YouTube had a communal spirit which saw a user named Mateus Muller run the game on a virtualiser to discover that the game’s use of GPU, IO, CPU and RAM was “consistent with what you would expect from a crypto miner”.
Valve’s due diligence of approving games are being questioned more than ever after stating in a recent policy that the platform would “allow everything onto the Steam Store, except for things that we decide are illegal, or straight up trolling.” Clearly, Steam is falling short in enforcing the policy.
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