Hacked accounts is bound to happen when you're dealing with online services. It's just part of the game when digital currency, content value and scams are taken into consideration. Well, what you probably didn't know was that Steam is an extremely high value target with more than 77,000 accounts hacked each month.
In a detailed but not too long post over on the Steam news page, Valve explains why they've been pursuing a far more aggressive stance on account security and the implementation of multi-step authentication for item trading.
The post makes it known that this isn't just a scheme or a scam aimed at newbies, either...
What used to be a handful of hackers is now a highly effective, organized network, in the business of stealing and selling items. It would be easier for them to go after the users who don't understand how to stay secure online, but the prevalence of items make it worthwhile to target everyone. We see around 77,000 accounts hijacked and pillaged each month. These are not new or naïve users; these are professional CS:GO players, reddit contributors, item traders, etc. Users can be targeted randomly as part of a larger group or even individually. Hackers can wait months for a payoff, all the while relentlessly attempting to gain access.
Yes, even the most ardent and faithful of security-oriented gamers still fall victim to account theft and infiltration each month. This isn't a testament to the lack of measures taken by users to secure themselves, but a a testament to the efficiency and dedication by organized hacking groups to pilfer accounts for a living.
We saw a similar rise in activity surrounding Blizzard's Diablo 3 during the time of which the Real-Money Auction House was a thing. It was setup quite similar to Valve's item trading, where players could sell virtual items for real cash payouts. It was a hotbed for controversy and plenty of accounts and scams took place within the short time that the RMAH was active, as organized hacking groups from China and Russia in particular had setup shop to raid accounts and sell the goods either through the gray market or through Blizzard's own Real-Money Auction House.
The exact same thing is happening with Steam and the item trading marketplace since traded virtual items do hold real-world monetary value.
Games like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2 become prime targets due to the amount of item trading traffic they have and the amount of users who pass through the marketplace either looking to sell items or make some bank on goods.
Opposite of Blizzard – who decided to shut down the Real-Money Auction House – Valve has decided to keep the trade market alive. However, they are implementing the two-step mobile authentication as an option for trading along with three-day holds on item trades. Additionally, item holds will be shorter on trades being made between friends who have been friends for more than a year. And last but not least, item trading can happen instantly if a player has the mobile authenticator activated for their account and if the authentication has been active for more than a week.
The entire post is well worth reading if you are remotely interested in item trading or you're a regular marketplace dweller within the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive community.