Account hacking has been an issue on Steam since the site’s inception, say spokespeople from Valve, the parent company of the online gaming hub. But, since the addition of Steam Trading, which allows users to buy, sell, and trade virtual items, hacking has become an epidemic, with roughly 77,000 accounts hacked every month. That there are that many accounts to hack in the first place is pretty mindboggling; that Valve waited for things to get so out of hand before taking action is utterly flabbergasting.
New Safety Measures: Too Little, Too Late?
Thieving virtual items and reselling them may seem like a fairly minor crime, but some rare items can bring thousands of dollars on the Steam market. And it’s not virtual money that’s involved in the sales—it’s real, live dollars going from bank account to bank account. Don’t get me started on how immeasurably stupid it is to pay real money for some stupid digital trinket in a video game world, because ye gods.
Stupidity begets stupidity, I guess, because stealing a stupid digital trinket from someone and selling it is the one of the stupidest things I can think of. If you rob someone’s house, at least you have the balls to actually break in and take their stuff; if you rob someone’s online account, all you have to do is twiddle your fingers—a coward’s activity if ever there was one. Do these digital thieves not have better $#!t to do than mess with other people on the internet? Do they not have anything better to do than ruin some stranger’s day? If these jackass hackers would apply their technical skills to something actually useful, they could likely make just as much money as they do fencing virtual items, if not more—skilled computer programmers can make a lot of dough, bro. Get a damn job!
Steam spokesfolks say the company has been working to add new security features to combat the rampant hackery. Their new Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator utilizes a two-factor authentication system like those employed by Google and PayPal to make it harder to gain unauthorized access to accounts. Steam has also implemented a “waiting period” of sorts for all item sales and trades on the platform, except between accounts that users have confirmed as friendly.
“Users who haven’t enabled [the Steam Guard Mobile Authenticator], or can’t, can still trade, but they’ll have to wait up to three days for the trade to go through,” Steam said in a statement. “This gives both Steam and users the time to discover their accounts have been hacked and recover [the account] before the hackers can steal their items.”
Certainly a step in the right direction, and a good move for both Steam and their users. If it will be enough to keep users from fleeing the system in the face of hacking threats remains to be seen. I’m not a gamer, but if I had some sort of rare, valuable item stashed away online, and it got stolen because the platform provider had made no effort to curtail such activities, I’d be plenty steamed.