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Valve removes game from Steam after discovering it installed cryptomining malware

Steam cryptomining malware.jpg

You might recall that Valve announced in June that they would no longer regulate the Steam Store. That responsibility now rests on the shoulders of Steam users, and only games that are considered to be trolling or illegal would be removed.

No policing from Valve means anything can find its way to the Steam store page - even things that could be harmful to its millions of users. You might think you're playing a game, but it's playing you.

And so Abstractism found its way to the store. It was dirt cheap, like almost free, and looked like a simple platformer. Quite a few people seemed to have played the game, as they reported that strange things happened to their PCs while playing. It demanded excessive power from the CPU and GPU, while some players even reported on their user reviews that they suspected the game installed a virus on their machine that slipped in as a Steam.exe process.

YouTuber SidAlpha took a closer look and reported that Abstractism did indeed install cryptomining malware on machines as well as scamming Team Fortress 2 players to purchase fake items.

The developer eventually responded to one of the user reviews that accused them of Cryptojacking. "Abstractism does not mine any of cryptocurrency. Probably, you are playing on high graphics settings, because they take a bit of CPU and GPU power, required for post-processing effects rendering."

The "bit of CPU and GPU power," needed to run the below graphics was the cause of the spike in processing power? Besides that, it was also discovered that Abstractism showed a lot of network activity and that for a single-player platformer that looks like it belonged in the age of Pong.

Abstractism.jpg

Then there was that one player who was scammed into buying a rare Team Fortress item that goes for around $100 on Steam's Market Place.

"I'm a pretty reputable and experienced trader but jeezz, this one guy got me pretty good," explains the unfortunate one on the Backpack TF forum. "I just got scammed off of a green confetti team captain from a method I have never seen before so I'm just gonna share it with you guys.  There's a game called Abstraction on steam where you can get an identical version of an item like the one in Team Fortress 2. Take a look below."

TF2 scam.jpg

Valve eventually removed the game from Steam, and responded to Kotaku's query with the following statement; “We removed Abstractism and banned its developer from Steam for shipping unauthorized code, trolling, and scamming customers with deceptive in-game items.”

It is important to note that Abstractism released on Steam in March when Valve was still supposed to regulate which games they allowed to release on Steam. Just imagine the malware that can release via Steam now that it is not regulated. Especially since Steam is known to be hacker central since March 2015 when Valve reported that 77 000 Steam accounts were getting hacked every month. I would love to know the latest figures on that bill.

The bottom line - when a game is so cheap it's almost free, then it is too good to be true. Don't download games from developers you know nothing about, do at least a bit of research first.

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