Valve, the owner-operator of the popular gaming platform Steam, is stepping up its security measures following a series of "sophisticated attacks" on its developers. The company has reported an increase in the number of security breaches, which saw hackers take over several developer accounts and add malware to their games. To mitigate future risks and further tighten its security, Valve is introducing text message verification for game developers using Steamworks.
These security threats reportedly affected fewer than 100 Steam players. The precise number of affected projects remains uncertain, but it is known that the issue dates back to late August. Among the victims is Benoît Freslon, developer of the game NanoWar: Cells VS Virus. In an ironic twist of fate, Freslon, whose game involves combating viral infections, shared with GameDiscoverCo’s Simon Carless that all his accounts were hacked using a token grabber.
The enhanced security measures have raised questions among the Steam developers’ community. Responding to their concerns, Valve has reaffirmed its commitment to user safety. A representative from the company has stated that adding "extra friction" for partners is a necessary trade-off for maintaining the safety of Steam users and ensuring developers are cognizant of any possible compromise to their accounts.
The new protocols were shared in a company post on Steam. It detailed the upcoming security changes stressing the need for all Steamworks accounts setting live builds on the public branch to provide a phone number for text confirmation. This ensures the company can send a confirmation code before any changes are implemented. The post also confirmed that the same procedure would apply to any Steamworks account adding new users. Valve has advised developers to add a phone number to their accounts in preparation for these changes, which are scheduled to go live from October 24, 2023.
In addition, to the above adaptations, Valve plans to extend this requirement to other Steamworks actions in the future. Developers will require a text message confirmation code every time they update a build in the default branch of a Steam app. However, a confirmation code will not be necessary to update a beta branch or an app that is yet to be released.
Further, Steamworks partner group admins will need a text message code to invite a new user to the group. Specifics about these changes are additionally detailed in the full post in a Q&A format. Valve's proactive measures highlight the importance of stringent security in the gaming industry and stand as a staunch message of prioritizing user safety amid rising cyber threats.
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