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altermatt
Premium
join:2004-01-22
White Plains, NY
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Steam OK?

I've shied away from gaming sites out of security/privacy concerns. A bunch of co-workers are addicted to Steam to blow off, well, steam, between tough cases and have encouraged me to install it and participate. Is this a safe site? Any concerns (other than using common sense)? Any unwanted stuff/connections in the background?
--
The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it. -- Stanley Kubrick

MrFixit1

join:1999-11-26
Madison, WI
Well definitely not as safe as not using it
As long as you have a " gaming " rig that is used only for games , and you use strong passwords on Steam , I would rate the risk as acceptable .
If you are thinking of using your only computer that has all your banking and personal records on it , not the best idea in the world .


suprleg
Abracadabra
Premium
join:2004-05-06
Cypress, CA
kudos:4

1 recommendation

reply to altermatt
I've had first "Gamespy" then "Steam" installed since their inception in 2002 and never ran into any problems.


dib22

join:2002-01-27
Kansas City, MO
reply to altermatt
Think of steam as a digital amazon that only sells video games.... the security issue is with the games... that is steam only writes a couple of games, the other ones they are simply reselling.

I have used steam for years with no real security issues, but that doesn't mean it would be impossible for your to purchase a game on steam that is a security concern... for example many games install PunkBuster or Valve Anti Cheat which many consider security concerns.

Generally steam has been a good internet citizen... keep an eye out for specials, you can pick up some games really cheap.


DownTheShore
RIP tmpchaos
Premium
join:2003-12-02
Beautiful NJ
kudos:14
reply to altermatt
I've purchased a few games via Steam over the years and have never had a problem with them.

HELLFIRE
Premium
join:2009-11-25
kudos:19

1 recommendation

reply to altermatt
...about my only concern is the "web browser" within the Steam software and how secure it is
against typical web threats -- XSS, applets, etc -- and 'steam://' URIs. IIRC, there was
a security warning against 'steam://' content links awhile back... --EDIT : found it via "steam:// vulnerability"
in Google... dates back to 2K12.

Otherwise, standard "safe hex" rules and keeping the Steam client up to date would apply.

My 00000010bits

Regards


sbconslt

join:2009-07-28
Los Angeles, CA

1 recommendation

reply to altermatt
It's a large application like any large application. It doesn't have significantly different security risks than installing and running any given third party application.

It's social and it's a store. It does some cloud sync stuff, your settings and what not. They don't place ads on your screen for anything outside of the games they have for sale.

Valve keeps it updated very actively, with large (80MB is typical) patches that get automatically downloaded and applied. Sometimes they come down every couple days, sometimes not for a few weeks, but they're regular.

It installs a service, SteamService.exe, that runs as a child process of services.exe, only when Steam is running.

You can have the service run with Windows startup, but don't. Only run it when you want to play something, then exit completely from it when you're done (from the tray icon is an easy way to do this) and it'll be completely out of the process tree.

When you create your account, pick a good password, and don't use one you're using anywhere else important, just in case they ever suffer a breach.

It doesn't package its own browser, it just wraps an IE rendering instance, as far as I can see.

Overall, I would say it's perfectly possible to use securely. An IT department would tell you you can't put it on a work machine, but that's not I think the context you're asking in.
--
Scott Brown Consulting, Los Angeles Computer Security & IT Services


altermatt
Premium
join:2004-01-22
White Plains, NY
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

1 recommendation

reply to altermatt
Thanks to everyone who replied. It does sound as if, with the usual (paranoid I am) safeguards, it should be okay. I think my largest concern was if it phoned home or ran something in the background. I will make sure the service is set to manual if it doesn't do that by default, and, as suggested, make sure I remember to close it after using.

I say it all the time, but it bears repeating: you guys are the best. I almost always get (and hopefully give back when I can) thoughtful, savvy and accurate information here. Thanks for being patient when I ask a "newbie" type question. Some things are new even to an oldie like me!
--
The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it. -- Stanley Kubrick


Steamly

@spcsdns.net
It's fine.
The only problem I have had with Steam is my Virgin Broadband2Go 3g. Either Steam ports are blocked by Virgin or Steam doesn't like the speed/connection as I can never log on. And yes, I have been through ALL of Steam's troubleshooters/knowlege base faqs to no relief.


Elite

join:2002-10-03
Orange, CT
Reviews:
·Optimum Online

2 recommendations

reply to altermatt
Steam is fine, and as previously mentioned, *very* heavily updated. Always has been.

Only thing to watch out for really is password phishing... People in some games may try and add you as a friend. "Friends" is an instant messaging system built directly into Steam and accessible from every game. It allows you to chat with your pals, form groups, see who's playing what game, and even join your friend's multiplayer game (eg: counter-strike server).

In order for someone to be able to "see" you on Friends, they need to add you and you need to confirm the request (much like Facebook). Next thing you know, you've got this guy called "st3am5upp0r+" asking you for your password over instant message, telling you some crock of shit story about how if you don't give up your password, they're gonna have to ban your account for "cheating" (or some other BS). Don't fall for it. Don't ever give up your steam password, EVER. EVER. EVER. Don't ever enter it anywhere except the Steam login window when you run the Steam program on your computer. Steam also uses two-factor authentication these days, so that helps keep you safe.

With the above being said, I also wouldn't suggest clicking on random links that people send you over instant message. If you want to stay safe on Steam, only confirm friend requests from people you KNOW. Then you don't have to worry about any of this shit.

As for the whole "don't bank and game on the same machine", this just seems a little silly. I've done both on the same computer for about a decade with zero issues to date. I'd say this goes for most people.

Final thoughts: Steam has a super kickass massive fucking catalog. It's huge. Seriously, you have no idea. And they have some of the most incredible sales you could possibly imagine. During the two big annual sales (winter sale and summer sale), you can get your hands on blockbuster titles that are a few years old for sometimes as little as like $2.49 or $4.99. They have offered so much amazing content for under $20 for the longest time. I've got plenty of friends who own several thousand dollars worth of games on Steam and they paid about 1/3rd MSRP due to the insane sales.

Edit: If you really get into Steam, you'll be building a new computer. You'll eventually give in to the temptation to buy a super gaming rig so that you can run your 549672 games like butter. Then I guess you can keep the current machine and use it exclusively for banking


altermatt
Premium
join:2004-01-22
White Plains, NY
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to altermatt
Thanks again to all who replied; sorry I didn't check again sooner, but been travelling and busy. Planning on making the move soon as this big project is over. I can always count on you guys for the "real skinny".
--
The truth of a thing is the feel of it, not the think of it. -- Stanley Kubrick

voxframe

join:2010-08-02
reply to Elite
said by Elite:

If you really get into Steam, you'll be building a new computer. You'll eventually give in to the temptation to buy a super gaming rig so that you can run your 549672 games like butter. Then I guess you can keep the current machine and use it exclusively for banking

ROFL My exact thoughts. I was never a gamer in my life, never dealt with Steam, never thought I'd need a gaming rig... Then DayZ came along...

TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:3
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

1 recommendation

reply to dib22
I've been a Steam user since 2005. Never had any issues. Valve is quite a reputable company and I see no reason to distrust them.

That being said, I suppose there is a very remote possibility that a 3rd-party game sold on Steam might contain something objectionable, but I have yet to become aware of any such thing.

said by dib22:

Valve Anti Cheat which many consider security concerns.

As far as I know, it works only by scanning the memory space used by the game while it is running, as cheats these days work by reading and altering the game data in memory (hooking is one such method). It uses both heuristics and known cheat "signatures" to detect when some external program is interfering with the game.

Most security concerns have been raised by individuals who aren't quite sure how it works, and incorrectly assumed that the anti-cheat system scans files on the computer (thus the security/privacy concerns), but that is not how it works. You can have all the cheats in the world installed on your computer, and assuming none of them are running in memory at the time of playing the game, nothing will be detected*.

*Disclaimer: I don't advise that anyone actually try this, as there's no way to be 100% sure that an installed cheat is indeed totally inactive depending on the way the person that wrote the cheat coded it. Of course, there's also an obvious security issue with installing cheats in the first place, which could potentially contain malware. In other words, don't do it.

RawHeadRex

join:2011-08-24
Richmond, IN
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to altermatt
Just play that's what Steam was made for Gaming. If you don't like gaming then don't worry with it. I love gaming, so it's a must for me. It's beats going to retail stores, and most of those if any doesn't carry near the amount of indie games or older games that Steam does. Everyone has their hobbies; Hell I even went back to school and received a degree in Computer Science because of gaming. LOL!!!