Steam forums and the Steam user database hacked, non-identifying information stolenby Thomas Hruska on Nov. 10, 2011, under Technology
Just logged into Steam and received this message:
November 10th, 2011
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.
It has been a really rough year for the video game community. Sony, EA (via Bioware), a few others, and now Steam/Valve have been hacked.
I already knew about the forums being hacked and crossed my fingers that the Steam database was on a separate network. Apparently not.
This isn’t the first time Valve, the owners of Steam, have been hacked. A guy named Gembe already holds the championship title.
Even with this fairly sincere letter of apology from Gabe, I’m finding myself wanting WAY more nitty-gritty details and the turnaround time to the actual announcement on Steam was still “Sony slow”. Encrypted data requires a decryption key to use it. That requires a piece of software somewhere with the decryption key stored in plain-text. Most firewall setups are fairly lax – once you are inside the network, it is generally assumed that you are “trusted”. So scanning the network for Steam server nodes and getting into them could become much easier. I don’t know how Valve can detect whether or not card numbers were stolen. I suppose SQL logs could indicate what queries were run, but query logs are unwieldy to work with and a moderately clever individual could extract card numbers slowly over time to hide their tracks. Or perhaps accessing the encrypted data requires a different set of database login credentials? Still, those credentials have to be stored somewhere – again, in plain-text. Defacement of the website could be a “haha, got you” afterthought but the defacement could have also been someone entirely different – two different parties with different objectives exploiting the same or similar weakness.
The information provided does supply me with fairly reasonable confidence in Valve’s digital distribution platform as far as attempting to keep my information secure. They separated and isolated personal information from shared information and then encrypted it – possibly with different credentials required for the encrypted data. One hopes that Valve learned a few lessons from the Gembe HL2 incident and will hopefully learn to not put all user information into what could virtually become a front-facing database.
At this point, if you have a Steam account, you should go and change your password. Just to be on the safe side.
And if you’ve used the same password everywhere, let this be a lesson to use a different but strong password for every place you log into.