Valve Addresses The Christmas Day Issue

Posted By: The GamerDating Team - December 30, 2015


On Christmas day, a ton of Steam users logged on to the platform and found other people’s personal information displayed. It has taken five days for Valve to to make a statement and we have seen many people more upset about the lag time than the effects of the attack. We've never been through something on that scale, but we are sure it is a massive pain in the side and urge everyone ot have a little bit of Christmas spirit toward Valve. Yeah, we know the holiday is technically over, but it is okay for us to keep our lights up until the 31st, why not our spirits?

In short, Valve’s statement says that a caching problem started with a denial of service attack. As this certainly wasn’t their first DoS attack rodeo, the resulting traffic spike triggered a protocol with the company that handles Steam’s caching. Shortly after, a second attack triggered another protocol that ended up exposing customer data. 

From the information they were able to gather so far, about 34,000 customers had their data shown in the 90 minutes the problem was occurring. Valve claims that there weren’t any inappropriate actions taken on accounts such as logging in to another's account or completing purchases as another user.

We here at GamerDating have loved Valve for a long time. While this was certainly not what we wanted to deal with on Christmas day (we had to wait to spend our Santa money!), after several years of working through the challenges of developing a website, our hearts go out to the team of people who probably didn’t get to have much of a Christmas with their families.

how every person dealing with IT feels before taking a break

 Our Chief of Operations, Alex, shared this image with our team just before we took our holiday break and it seems an appropriate reminder that the people behind the scenes work their bums off to bring us games but have only so much control. Let's cut them a little slack this time :)

This is the full explanation of what happened, as told by Valve:

Early Christmas morning (Pacific Standard Time), the Steam Store was the target of a DoS attack which prevented the serving of store pages to users. Attacks against the Steam Store, and Steam in general, are a regular occurrence that Valve handles both directly and with the help of partner companies, and typically do not impact Steam users. During the Christmas attack, traffic to the Steam store increased 2000% over the average traffic during the Steam Sale. 

In response to this specific attack, caching rules managed by a Steam web caching partner were deployed in order to both minimize the impact on Steam Store servers and continue to route legitimate user traffic. During the second wave of this attack, a second caching configuration was deployed that incorrectly cached web traffic for authenticated users. This configuration error resulted in some users seeing Steam Store responses which were generated for other users. Incorrect Store responses varied from users seeing the front page of the Store displayed in the wrong language, to seeing the account page of another user.

Once this error was identified, the Steam Store was shut down and a new caching configuration was deployed. The Steam Store remained down until we had reviewed all caching configurations, and we received confirmation that the latest configurations had been deployed to all partner servers and that all cached data on edge servers had been purged.

We will continue to work with our web caching partner to identify affected users and to improve the process used to set caching rules going forward. We apologize to everyone whose personal information was exposed by this error, and for interruption of Steam Store service.