Steam Spyware Level: EXTREMELY HIGH

I really enjoyed the Half-Life and Counter-Strike games, especially the Half-Life and Half-Life 2 single player episodes. I spent a huge amount of time tweaking settings and creating content for HL and CS and i kind of miss those days. My appreciation for Valve took a nosedive when Steam was introduced however. I hated that you had to have Steam running to play a single player game or build a map, so much so that i emailed Gabe about how i and some other long-time Valve fans felt about it. His one-line reply was "Steam is a set of non-trivial problems".

I would very much like to revisit the HL single player episodes but Steam and all games would have to be isolated from the rest of my system, perhaps by installing the Flatpak version under a dedicated user account, but the more i think about it, the less is my interest in doing so. Proprietary software cannot be trusted, plain and simple. For those of you using Steam on your daily-driver computer, i would strongly recommend figuring out a way to isolate Steam and all your games from the rest of your system.

Steam — Spyware Watchdog

This program is spyware because it collects huge amounts of user information, including but not limited to your Home Address, Telephone Number, Credit Card Number, and Internet Search History. Steam also profiles your hardware, communications through Steam's social networking features, and contains a mandatory self-updater. Steam will not work without an internet connection.


Steam also confirms that it shares this information with third parties. The implications of this are as follows: Steam knows your name, age, where you live, your banking information, and what your e-mail is. Steam shares this information with other companies (at least, to the extent allowed by law). Steam can use your IP Address to track where you are to the nearest county and can use your Device Unique ID provided by the fingerprinting spyware features inside Steam to track your usage habits across devices that you use. Steam also records all of your communications with others through its social networking and instant messaging services, such as all chat logs, voice conversations, and forum posts, and can share all of this information with third parties as well.


If You Use Steam, Valve Might Be Tracking Every Website You Visit | Gizmodo Australia

Here's a fun fact: If you use Steam for your games -- let's face it, you do -- there's a chance Valve's Anti-Cheat System been taking a look at all the websites you visit and sending a list back to home base. Why? No one knows for sure.

The discovery comes by way of SHG_Nackt who claims to have found a suspicious little piece of code that appears to mine your DNS cache for a list of domains, hash them and send them back to Valve for perusal.


Steamed: Valve Software Battles Video-game Cheaters - IEEE Spectrum

The company combats this with its own Valve Anti-Cheat System, which a user consents to install in the Steam subscriber agreement. Cook says the software gets around antivirus programs by handling all the operations that require administrator access to the user’s machine. Periodically, the company transmits ”client challenges” to a player’s machine, running software that scans for cheat codes. The Anti-Cheat software might, for example, trigger a dormant code on the player’s machine. If the machine doesn’t send back the appropriate response, the code alerts Valve to a possible violation.

Valve also looks for changes within the player’s computer processor’s memory, which might indicate that a cheat code is running. Finding anomalies is not difficult. The company knows what series of operating code is required to run the game and can spot suspicious activity. Once code is suspected, it’s turned into an incident report, which is analyzed by Cook’s team of 16 engineers. Sometimes code is determined to be a standard privacy or security measure.

“We can see it and say, ‘Oh, that’s just antivirus software running the background,’ and flag it as okay,” says Cook. Valve keeps a directory of cheat codes and can compare new incident reports to others in its database. The team then tests out the code using copies of their own game. Once designated as a true cheat, it’s added to the database for future reference.

Valve’s Anti-Cheat software raises privacy concerns. “Any time you, as a user, allow someone to run software or a process on your system, then you’re not in control,” says Lee Tien, senior staff attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco–based nonprofit advocacy group.


NSA's Hacker-in-Chief: We Don't Need Zero-Days To Get Inside Your Network - Motherboard

Even a laptop running Valve's Steam gaming service can make a nice point of entry for Joyce's NSA buddies, he says.


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