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Valve says turning away researcher reporting Steam vulnerability was a mistake

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In an attempt to quell a controversy that has raised the ire of white-hat hackers, the maker of the Steam online game platform said on Thursday it made a mistake when it turned away a researcher who recently reported two separate vulnerabilities.

In its statement, Valve Corporation references HackerOne, the reporting service that helps thousands of companies receive and respond to vulnerabilities in their software or hardware. The company also writes:

We are also aware that the researcher who discovered the bugs was incorrectly turned away through our HackerOne bug bounty program, where his report was classified as out of scope. This was a mistake.

Our HackerOne program rules were intended only to exclude reports of Steam being instructed to launch previously installed malware on a user’s machine as that local user. Instead, misinterpretation of the rules also led to the exclusion of a more serious attack that also performed local privilege escalation through Steam.

We have updated our HackerOne program rules to explicitly state that these issues are in scope and should be reported. In the past two years, we have collaborated with and rewarded 263 security researchers in the community helping us identify and correct roughly 500 security issues, paying out over $675,000 in bounties. We look forward to continuing to work with the security community to improve the security of our products through the HackerOne program.

In regards to the specific researchers, we are reviewing the details of each situation to determine the appropriate actions. We aren’t going to discuss the details of each situation or the status of their accounts at this time.

Valve’s new HackerOne program rules specifically provide that “any case that allows malware or compromised software to perform a privilege escalation through Steam, without providing administrative credentials or confirming a UAC dialog, is in scope. Any unauthorized modification of the privileged Steam Client Service is also in scope.”

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