Valve: Steam credit card details, passwords may be at risk

While we were busy benchmarking Battlefield 3 yesterday, Valve CEO Gabe Newell sent out a rather disturbing notice to Steam users. Apparently, some clever hacker (or hackers) managed to get hold of an encrypted database containing Steam passwords and credit card details. Valve says there's no evidence the encryption was cracked... but that doesn't mean it won't be.

Here's the notice in full, straight from the Steam forum index page:

Dear Steam Users and Steam Forum Users:

Our Steam forums were defaced on the evening of Sunday, November 6. We began investigating and found that the intrusion goes beyond the Steam forums.

We learned that intruders obtained access to a Steam database in addition to the forums. This database contained information including user names, hashed and salted passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information. We do not have evidence that encrypted credit card numbers or personally identifying information were taken by the intruders, or that the protection on credit card numbers or passwords was cracked. We are still investigating.

We don’t have evidence of credit card misuse at this time. Nonetheless you should watch your credit card activity and statements closely.

While we only know of a few forum accounts that have been compromised, all forum users will be required to change their passwords the next time they login. If you have used your Steam forum password on other accounts you should change those passwords as well.

We do not know of any compromised Steam accounts, so we are not planning to force a change of Steam account passwords (which are separate from forum passwords). However, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to change that as well, especially if it is the same as your Steam forum account password.

We will reopen the forums as soon as we can.

I am truly sorry this happened, and I apologize for the inconvenience.


I'm not too worried about someone breaking into my Steam account. Valve's current security system e-mails you a confirmation number whenever you try to log into Steam from a different machine or change your password. That makes setting up Steam on test rigs laborious, but it should prevent unauthorized access fairly well—except, of course, for people who unwisely protect their e-mail and Steam accounts with the same password.

Credit card details are a greater cause for concern, though. I certainly hope that Valve did a good job of securing those.

This isn't the company's first brush with disastrous security breaches. Eight years ago, the source code for the then-unreleased Half-Life 2 leaked after hackers managed to break into Valve's company network. The culprits were later found, but the damage to Valve was already done. Word eventually got out that the company's internal security wasn't quite up to scratch, and Gabe Newell's personal password was "gaben", the same as his username.

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