Many have donned tinfoil hats over the inclusion of hardware security features in Intel's latest processors. Could such features prove to be a blessing more than a curse? That may well be the case for Valve's Steam distribution platform.
As Joystiq reports, Valve has announced Steam Guard, an account protection feature that uses the hardware encryption functionality built inside Sandy Bridge CPUs. Or, as the press release quoted by Joystiq puts it:
Steam Guard will take advantage of upcoming Intel® Identity Protection Technology (Intel® IPT), an encrypted, hardware-based feature available with the new 2nd Generation Intel® CoreT and Intel® CoreT vProT processors. IPT generates a new numerical password every 30 seconds, integrating into the processor functionality that previously required a separate card or key fob.
It's all for a good cause, though: using Steam Guard, Valve says users will be able to tie their Steam account to a given PC. They'll also receive notifications if someone tries to log into their account from another, unauthorized system. That could help limit the effect of phishing and account hijacking—Valve's "#1 support issues," according to CEO Gabe Newell.