Kingston gamers among potential victims of hacking attack

The gaming platform Steam was hit by hackers who gained access to users’ personal details, including credit card information.

Kingston gamers are among Steam’s 35 million users whose personal data may now be stored on a hacker’s hard drive.

Steam is a downloadable gaming platform that offers free games from independent developers, but users need to purchase well-known titles, such as Call of Duty and Assassin’s Creed, using their credit card on the platform’s online store.

Sam Williams, Kingston University group member and long-time user of the platform said: “I first found out whilst crawling through the technology news. Having being a user of Steam since 2004, I was definitely shocked.”

Gabe Newell, head of Steam’s developer, Valve Corporation, released an announcement, saying that the database accessed by the hackers “contained information including user names, passwords, game purchases, email addresses, billing addresses and encrypted credit card information.”

The attack happened earlier this month, when instead of the usual main forum page, visitors saw advertisements of websites offering video game cheats.

Apart from the forum, for which users have a separate account, hackers also intruded a Steam database that includes players’ sensitive personal information.

The company said that there is no evidence encrypted passwords and credit card data were cracked, but investigations are ongoing.

No new security features for either the forum or the Steam database have been announced, but Gabe Newell urged users to check their credit card activity regularly for any unusual transactions.

Mr Newell also advised users to change both their forum and Steam passwords, especially if they are identical.

Mr Williams did not believe that the attack will have an impact on Steam’s popularity. “I believe users will be wary of purchasing games at first, but only until the dust settles. STEAM is the only real service available for the PC where users can have a library of their games and friends all in one place.”

“No system is perfect, but at least they encrypt the data, unlike Sony,” Mr Williams said, refering to the double hacking attack against Sony’s Playstation Network (PSN) in April and May of 2011. Hackers stole personal information from more than 77 million users, forcing Sony to cease the operation of its internet services temporarily.

BioWare was also hit this summer, when hackers gained access to the company’s decade-old server system that supports the forums of the “Neverwinter Nights” role-playing games and stole usernames, passwords and email addresses, but not credit card information.

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