Over the Christmas Holiday, Steam users encountered a frightful scare: some of the user account and personal information was available for others to see through cached pages. This sent a lot of people into absolute panic mode. Well, it's over and Valve has explained what happened.
The software publisher and digital distribution giant sent out a standard response explaining what happened and how it wasn't external forces – such as hackers or malware – that caused the user accounts to become exposed to other users briefly. Gamespot posted Valve's response, which states:
As a result of a configuration change earlier today, a caching issue allowed some users to randomly see pages generated for other users for a period of less than an hour. This issue has since been resolved. We believe no unauthorized actions were allowed on accounts beyond the viewing of cached page information and no additional action is required by users
Not everyone was satisfied with this turn of events.
One of the largest forces in video game journalism and media enthusiasm and the largest curator on Steam, TotalBiscuit, posted a couple of Twitlonger messages; these messages explained that maybe Steam curators and influential YouTubers should start seriously pushing and promoting competitors to Steam, such as GOG.com or Direct2Drive.com.
The reasoning is that Steam currently has a monopoly on the digital distribution arena. While GOG.com is still growing, it's also still a niche. Pushing consumers toward something like GOG, GamersGate or Direct2Drive could help bring a balance to the PC gaming arena, so when issues like this happen with Steam you don't have the entire PC gaming spectrum at the mercy of one company's digital distribution service.
Some gamers have stated that the issue isn't quite as bad, so long as Valve wasn't hacked and things are back up and running. However, the problem that occured during the holiday was anything but calm, and Valve's silence regarding the issue only helped exacerbate the situation. The advice handed out by most people at the time was just “do nothing”. That was probably one of the most frightening pieces of advice to receive when partial credit card info, payment details, and home address information could be accessed by other users, no matter how briefly.
According to My Broadband, a New Zealand outlet, none of the viewable user info was changeable by users, so it was not possible to edit the payment info and get any further details from the players. While the situation seems like it came and went with relatively little harm, the trust in Valve did diminish during this time, given that users were left out in the open with clearly no protection.
For the most part, media and gamers alike were left to guess at what was happening with Steam while the issue persisted on Christmas day. It was an unnerving event for many PC gamers but thankfully it's been resolved.