Security Experts:

Vulnerability Allowed Hackers to Hijack Steam Accounts

A vulnerability in the Steam password recovery feature allowed anyone to hijack accounts in just a few seconds. Valve patched the security hole, but not before numerous accounts were hacked using the method.

When Steam users want to utilize the “retrieve a lost account” feature, they are instructed to provide their account name, and an email containing a recovery code is sent to their email address.

However, hackers discovered that the step where gamers would normally have to enter the recovery code received via email can be bypassed by leaving the text field blank and hitting the “Continue” button. Then, the user performing the password recovery can simply select a new password.

According to Valve, the account recovery process was affected by this bug between July 21 and July 25. During this period, there have been numerous reports of hijacked accounts, including by prominent gamers.

In addition to fixing the vulnerability, Valve has reset the passwords of accounts for which passwords were changed during July 21-25.

“To protect users, we are resetting passwords on accounts that changed passwords during that period using the account recovery wizard,” Valve told users. “You will receive an email with your new password. Once that email is received, it is recommended that you login to your account via the Steam client and set a new password.”

The company has pointed out that users’ actual passwords were not exposed by the bug. Furthermore, the accounts of gamers who had Steam Guard enabled could not be hacked using this technique, Valve said.

A UK-based gamer using the online moniker “Elm Hoe” has published a video demonstrating how the attack worked.

It is not uncommon for Steam gamers to be targeted by cybercrooks. The list of threats includes phishing, scams, malware, and bots.

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Eduard Kovacs (@EduardKovacs) is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.