UFC Website ‘Fight Pass’ Caught Secretly Using Customers Computers To Mine Cryptocurrency

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In your WTF news for the day, it has been discovered that UFC’s subscription streaming service, Fight Pass, recently ran a cryptocurrency mining code during one of its events.

The code – which mines the privacy cryptocurrency Monero – was located by several UFC fans, who reported their findings on social media.

Redditor gambledub stated:

“It’s not harmful AFAIK, but doing this on a service we’re paying for is fu*ked up IMO. I researched Coinhive, mentioned by my antivirus, and found the JavaScript on their website, and sure enough, it’s running on Fight Pass.”

People were annoyed that they weren’t asked for consent and had already paid to use the streaming service. Users contacted the UFC to demand an explanation and were told that the company “takes these matters very seriously and will review this.”

A UFC spokesperson then released a statement claiming that they had reviewed their code and the mining company Coinhive’s JavaScript wasn’t found on Fight Pass:

“Immediately upon learning of the reported issue, Neulion, UFC’s over-the-top digital service provider, reviewed the UFC.TV/FIGHTPASS site code and did not find any reference to the mentioned Coinhive javascript.”

Users responded by posting various screenshots to show that the code was indeed there.

In all likelihood, the UFC’s website was hacked: the company pulls in so much money from subscription fees and pay-per-view events that it wouldn’t need to utilise its users CPUs in order to mine cryptocurrency.

Coinhive revealed that none of the screenshots included the site key so they didn’t know how much had actually been mined. They also said that they have a strict policy of terminating accounts that violate their terms of service.

The company offers a JavaScript miner for the Monero blockchain that companies can embed into their website. Users run the miner directly in their browser and mine Monero in exchange for an ad-free experience.

They have stopped developing their original JavaScript code and are working on a new mining code that asks for users permission before using their CPUs.

Fight Pass isn’t the first popular website to run the Monero mining code: earlier this year, torrenting site The Pirate Bay ran a one-day trial to see if it would be a viable alternative to running ads. The Coinhive script was so effective that they decided to run it again later on.

The bold move led to a Monero mining craze with even the likes of CBS-owned Showtime websites – Showtime.com and Showtimeanytime.com – running it at one point before quickly removing it due to a public backlash.

Monero is an open-source cryptocurrency created in April 2014. It runs on Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android, and FreeBSD and focuses on privacy, decentralisation, and scalability.

It has enjoyed a stellar 2017: at the start of the year, one Monero coin cost just under $14 USD and at present, they are currently going for more than $120 USD.

A cryptocurrency mine, Iceland

Cryptocurrency mining is the process by which transactions are verified and added to a public ledger (often referred to as a ‘blockchain’), and also the means through which new coins are released. Anyone with access to the internet and suitable hardware can participate in mining.

As a company, we’ve pondered trialling a crypto mining script in the past (only with user permission, of course!) in exchange for an ad-free experience.

Just like you guys, we too, hate ads but without them, we wouldn’t be able to keep the lights on. We’re keen to know, would helping us mine Monero (or another cryptocurrency) while visiting our website be something you guys would be interested in?

As stated above, we would never, ever, run such a code without our user’s permission but if it meant that you could access our site without annoying ads and we could afford to pay our writers, would you guys be keen to give it a try?

We’re genuinely interested in what you think about this so let us know in the comments!



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