A gaming company that hijacked 14,000 customer computers to create a bitcoin mining botnet has been fined $1 million by the New Jersey attorney general's office.
In a formal complaint outlining the settlement, the State alleges that New York-based E-Sports created and deployed malicious software code that infected the computers of thousands of customers who subscribed to its 'anti-cheat' services for popular on-line video games.
The code enabled E-Sports to monitor users' computers even when they were not signed onto or using its services and created a botnet to mine for bitcoins. It is estimated that, during a single two-week period, E-Sports took control of approximately 14,000 computers in New Jersey and across the nation, and generated approximately $3,500 by mining for bitcoins.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman, says: "These defendants illegally hijacked thousands of people's personal computers without their knowledge or consent, 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."
As part of its settlement, E-Sports has agreed to refrain from deploying software code that downloads to consumers' computers without their knowledge and authorisation. The company also must submit itself to a 10-year compliance program and create a dedicated page on its Web site that specifies what type of data it collects, the manner in which the data is collected, and how the information is used.