An alert for any of you digital game players out there: Steam, the games marketplace owned by Valve has pulled an indie game called Abstractism from the site after allegations that the game was a front for a cryptocurrency mining operation. According to Motherboard, the game hijacked players’ computers and used them to mine cryptocurrency.
It’s another case of ‘cryptojacking’
Cryptojacking scams force a user’s computer to give over its resources to to guessing the correct value that creates a valid block of cryptocurrency transaction data. This process is extremely resource-intensive and can lead to overheating and slowdowns. User’s are unaware about what has happened and have to put up with a computer that slows almost to a stop, while the hacker who has cryptojacked the computer is rewarded with digital currency. As you know, mining can be lucrative and it’s even more beneficial when you scam someone else and use their computer to do the work for you.
Abstractism players also allege that the developers used the game to generate counterfeit digital items that it used to scam unsuspecting customers.
Who owns Abstractism?
Developer Okalo Union and publisher dead.team released Abstractism on Steam on 15th March this year. It’s a rather simple game of moving blocks around in a 2D space, but in the play book there was at least one red flag: players were encouraged to leave the game running when they weren’t playing, with the incentive that they would win rare items.
The YouTube sleuth
SidAlpha, a YouTuber has posted a video explaining how the scam operates. A fan informed him that they had been scammed out of $100 for a gold rocket launcher that was supposed to work on Abstractism, but was really for another game called Team Fortress 2. Others then started to dig into Abstractism as well and noticed that running the small indie game hogged system resources, triggered Windows Defender alerts and tripped anti-virus software. As Motherboard reports: “The source of the resource-hogging and malware alerts, they believed, was malicious software embedded in the game that allegedly hijacked their machines and looped them into a cryptocurrency mining operation.”
Yesterday, 30th July, Steam removed the game and banned the developer. Fortunately, as SidAlpha says, this kind of scam is rare in gaming. Hopefully, you haven’t been a victim of this abuse.