Valve fails at setup

Some of you may recall back to 2003 when the source code to Half Life 2 was released to bittorrent. Well, Valve doesn't take this kind of thing lightly, especially when the hacker emails Valve to brag about his hackings.

How did they find who the guy really is? Simple! The FBI recorded chat logs from anonymous tipsters who were in the IRC Room where the hacks took place!

February 2004 rolls around and a guy emails Valve from DaGuy@hushmail.com and admits he was the hacker. The plot thickens. He admitted to hacking into the system but denied releasing the source code to the Internet. He even admitted he add access to the Valve system for six months and proved it true through a detailed explanation.

Valve contacted the Seattle FBI Office to attempt to coordinate an elaborate operation to get the German hacker into the United States so they can arrest him there. The FBI identified the hacker as Axel Gembe, of Schonau, Germany.

Valve contacted Gembe and first of all verified his name was Gembe. Gembe explained that he entered through an account that had no password, then got up to root access using remote CGI exploits and scanning software.

Valve invited Gembe to Seattle where he would meet in person with Valve for a face to face job interview. Valve even graciously agreed to pay for all expenses of getting there and staying there. In reality it was just a sly attempt to arrest Gembe. Oh Valve, you sneaky snakes.

Gembe is stupid enough to admit to the hackings, but he wasn't stupid enough to come to Seattle. But regardless he was arrested in Germany and simply put on probation.

Valve ultimately failed at their setup, but at least the guy got his just desserts!

Link: PDF File of FBI Chat Logs (Courtesy of wired.com)
News source: Source

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31 Comments

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this is what i call "net-ural selection."
survival of the fittest... getting rid of 'stupider' hackers like this guy.. lol.

better hide before i get hacked. lol.

Sounds more like Valve phails at security. Honestly, an account without a password then CGI exploits and scanning software?

Why don't they spend less on detectives that try to get you to come for an interview and more on teaching their employees about security?

hearign thios poses an interesting question since he may ghave not leaked the code to the internet so everyone could have it. did valve use this and release the code themselves giving them more time to actualy finish the game.

GamblerFEXonlin said,
IRC logs in an FBI document. wtf lol omg?

If you think that is uncommon, you ought to look up other investigations. IRC/AIM/MSN/Yahoo! etc logs show up in most every court document pertaining to online crimes.

All chat service providers log conversations and release them upon court request.

What most people do not even realize is that most hackings are tracked and the hacker caught through bragging about it to others. In some cases the hacker actually brags willingly to under cover agents.

GreenMartian said,
People with high technical proficiencies are not known for their high social skills :P

Sadly that is 100% the truth!

That's hard to believe. Even back in 2003, surely server admins knew enough to enforce passwords on all user accounts. Even I know that, and I'm just a hardware tech! Must be something they're not telling us.

damn... that's pretty sneaky lol

good read though ;)

another reason to NEVER say who you are when you hack someone important.... but that's the major weakness of someone who hacks a big company like valve etc is that they cant keep there mouth's shut since they want credit for there hacks.

so it's either... hack someone and brag and get credit THEN goto jail... or hack someone, keep quite and dont get credit, and just take pride in knowing you hacked em without telling anyone and stay OUT of jail

another typo :)
"...he add access to the Valve system..."

and the title sucks too...I first thought of failed L4D installations...
"Valve failed to sting hacker" would be MUCH clearer.

The_Decryptor said,
Well it did happen 4 years ago.

It appears we've created some kind of time loop which is causing really, really old news to be posted. Someone call the Doc?

Pc_Madness said,
It appears we've created some kind of time loop which is causing really, really old news to be posted. Someone call the Doc?

I was thinking the same thing. I hadn't seen the PDF though.

Pc_Madness said,
It appears we've created some kind of time loop which is causing really, really old news to be posted. Someone call the Doc?

I agree. Seen more than a few old stories lately. Ah well.

Sam Symons Live said,
I agree. Seen more than a few old stories lately. Ah well.

Does anyone know what happened to that guy who hacked Valve?