Valve rejects claims it receives players' browsing history

Gabe Newell assures his company's Steam anti-cheat software is safe

Vale co-founder Gabe Newell has defended Steam's anti-cheat software Valve Anti-Cheat after claims it send players' browsing history back to the company.

VAC is a method Valve uses to ensure players have not installed cheats. If a player is found to be using a cheat on a VAC-protected server, they are banned from playing the game on that server again.


A Reddit post on Sunday made the claim that "VAC reads all the domains you have visited and sends it back to their servers hashed".

The post accused Valve of going through players' DNS cache entries and sending them back to Valve. "It seems they are moving from detecting the cheats themselves to computer forensics," it alleged.

However, Newell took to Reddit last night to argue this isn't the case, detailing the process VAC uses to identify cheaters.

Newell explained that cheat developers create DRM and anti-cheat codes to ensure players have paid for their cheats.

"These cheats phone home to a DRM server that confirms that a cheater has actually paid to use the cheat," Newell said. "VAC checked for the presence of these cheats. If they were detected VAC then checked to see which cheat DRM server was being contacted."

"This second check was done by looking for a partial match to those (non-web) cheat DRM servers in the DNS cache. If found, then hashes of the matching DNS entries were sent to the VAC servers. The match was double checked on our servers and then that client was marked for a future ban. Less than a tenth of one percent of clients triggered the second check. Five-hundred and seventy cheaters are being banned as a result."

Newell implied that the accusation was an example of 'social engineering', in which cheaters are trying to make VAC look bad in the hope that the community will put pressure on Valve to remove it, thereby making cheats harder to detect.

He concluded: "Q&A. Do we send your browsing history to Valve? No. Do we care what porn sites you visit? Oh, dear god, no. My brain just melted. Is Valve using its market success to go evil? I don't think so, but you have to make the call if we are trustworthy. We try really hard to earn and keep your trust."