An ABC employee who tried to earn virtual currency by installing Bitcoin “mining” software on one of the broadcaster’s most popular sites has kept his job.
The employee, who had “high-level IT access privileges”, was disciplined after placing the code on the ABC Grandstand Sports website.
Visitors looking for sports scores or watching videos of a popular match “may have been exposed to the Bitcoin software”, said the ABC.
“The placement of the code was detected by internal ABC checks within 30 minutes and was removed immediately,” the ABC wrote recently in response to questions put on notice by Senator Eric Abetz during Senate Estimates in February.
Bitcoin’s economy – in which virtual currency that can be turned into real money – consists of a network of its users’ computers, said Wired magazine.
Bitcoins can be spent at retailers that display the Bitcoin 101symbol at the cash register or virtual checkout. For example, the online games store, JJGames.com, has a page explaining how visitors can use their bitcoins to buy video games.
While there was no impact on the ABC’s internal and external online distribution infrastructure, it was not possible for the ABC to “ascertain whether any audience members were affected by the Bitcoin software”.
The ABC had not received any complaints from visitors.
In addition to being disciplined, the employee’s access to all productions systems has been restricted.
The employee, who has not been named, is now being closely supervised, the ABC said in its response to the Senate Estimates questions.
Senator Abetz will pursue the matter when the ABC appears before Senate Estimates on Wednesday.
It is understood he will ask for details on how many visitors accessed the infected site, which pages were affected by the code, and what code was used.
According to a source, it was “very odd” that this employee got a “slap on wrist and was back to it”.
“It’s typical these days that the ABC is its own judge, jury and executioner,” he said.