Steam Tapping Into Intel's ID Protection Tech

Thursday Valve Software revealed a new secondary authentication method for Steam and Steamworks called Steam Guard. This added security component will "greatly increase account security" by allowing users to link account management to a specific PC.

According to Valve, Steam Guard will be made possible by the use of Intel's upcoming Identity Protection Technology (Intel IPT), an encrypted, hardware-based feature available with the new 2nd Generation Intel Core and Intel Core vPro processors. Unfortunately, that bit of info seems to indicate that Steam Guard will be useless on current Intel and all AMD processors until an alternative to IPT is released.

"Account phishing and hijacking are our #1 support issues," said Gabe Newell, President of Valve. "With Intel's IPT and Steam Guard, we've taken a big step towards giving customers the account security they need as they purchase more and more digital goods."

IPT generates a new numerical password every 30 seconds, integrating into the processor functionality that previously required a separate card or key fob. Users will be notified by Steam Guard if any PCs other than those authorized by them attempt to log into or modify their account settings. The new feature is now available to third parties to incorporate into their own applications through Steamworks, Valve said.

"We expect to see widespread adoption of hardware-based security like Intel IPT by other service providers," said Doug Lombardi, Valve's Vice President of Marketing. "If as a customer you are buying movies, music, games, or digital goods, you want to know that they are more secure than your physical goods."

Currently it's unknown what will happen to accounts when Steam Guard is activated and the linked PC goes down in flames, or how the service will notify the account holder of suspicious tampering. Valve's Burton Johnsey has noted the outstanding questions, saying that Valve will "provide more information in the near future that should clear up some of these questions and the surrounding confusion."

UPDATE: Steam Guard is now available in beta form. To access the beta, simply launch the Steam client and head to the Accounts tab in Settings menu. Users must then change the beta participation status to "Steam" (if it's not already set) and then re-start the client. For those who don't have the required Intel processor to support IPT, Steam Guard will use email-based authentication instead.

Steam Guard will soon offer other forms of secondary authentication, Valve added Friday. In the meantime, the official Steam Guard FAQ can be accessed here.

  • figgus
    No thanks, this smacks of the Trusted Platform debacle.
  • And what was that debacle with TPM, exactly? You mean the one where people got all up in arms about pretty much a nothing issue?
  • hoofhearted
    Yes, I know ... "big brother". But I have to admit, this sound enticing if it prevents someone from jacking my account.

    The only hack I see is if someone creates a hijack service man-in-the-middle type hack. It would require the victims PC to be on live in order to work though.
  • kcorp2003
    oh great, then i can't share my steam account with my friend and family. since its locked into a single PC.
    this sounds like a good idea if you can turn it off and if it works with AMD and paste processors
  • chriskrum
    kcorp2003oh great, then i can't share my steam account with my friend and family. since its locked into a single PC.
    I think it will still work the same and you'll be able to share your accounts they way you always have. You'll be able to opt in to locking "account management" to a specific computer if you wish. That means some jerk can't hijack your account and change your passwords, spend your money, etc.

    That is if I understand this correctly.
  • Good technology, this is the best DRM available and Intel has gained trust from content providers with this technology. Hopefully, content providers will be locked on Intel Powered Products since Intel is the standard for the most trusted secure platform. It's a great thing Intel owned the content providers.
  • Sabiancym
    How many big brother conspiracy theorists are going to bash this? Too many to count.
  • robochump
    SabiancymHow many big brother conspiracy theorists are going to bash this? Too many to count.Big Brother gets you when you least expect it. Through gaming!!! Muahahaha!!!
  • dib
    Its the game and account protection that keeps me from wanting to buy any games.