Anti-cheat software developer E-Sports Entertainment Association (ESEA) received a $1 million fine by the New Jersey Attorney General for hiding a Bitcoin miner in its software. The software was secretly installed on over 14,000 client systems and generated a total of 30BTC, or US$15,803 at current market value, before it was discovered two weeks after its launch. ESEA is required to pay $325,000 now, with the remainder of the fine suspending pending good behavior for the next 10 years.
At the time, ESEA claimed that the mining malware was the result of a rogue employee, since dismissed, who had inserted the code into the software without authorisation. The state's Acting Attorney General, John J. Hoffman, claims otherwise, with the case findings suggesting that the malware was inserted by a directly-employed software engineer with the full knowledge and consent of one of the company's co-founders, Eric Thunberg.
'These defendants illegally hijacked thousands of people’s personal computers without their knowledge or consent,' the Attorney General's office claimed in a closing statement on the case, 'and in doing so gained the ability to monitor their activities, mine for virtual currency that had real dollar value, and otherwise invade and damage their computers.'