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Imagine this: you’re playing your favorite Steam game when, out of nowhere, you exit the game and return to your desktop. You try to reconnect while saying to yourself: “It was just a bug”. Right? No chance. You are faced with a Steam login screen. You try to connect, and again, no dice. You try two more times; both connection attempts fail in place. Which give?
So you check your public Steam profile, and what you find makes your heart sink to your feet. Your profile is different, there’s clearly been some activity on the account that you never authorized, and even your friends list has new faces – faces you don’t recognize.
This is the fate of an account hack. If this is happening to you, don’t worry, you are not alone. Such attacks are a constant threat to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and it can seem just as disastrous to lose your Steam account, especially if you’ve sunk hundreds or thousands of hours (and dollars) into it. It is just as likely to become a target of phishing schemes and other invasive maneuvers by malicious actors as the other platforms mentioned earlier.
How to Recover a Hacked Steam Account
Valve has several safeguards in place against Steam account thieves, but your mileage may vary. If you don’t have any access to your account, your best bet is to go straight to Steam Support and start working with them to recover your account. You’ll need to provide proof of account ownership, but Valve also suggests having other information handy, such as old email addresses and login credentials (old usernames and passwords can help, especially if the hacker changed your account username).
There is also an unofficial Wiki page on Reddit that has up-to-date tips and tricks for recovering your Steam account and keeping it safe. In any case, you must proceed as follows:
Use an antivirus tool to find and remove any malware you may have on your computer. Don’t worry too much about the specific tool you choose just yet; Avast or BitDefender work well, despite some of the controversies surrounding both Avast and BitDefender. Both services offer free trials that you can cancel when you’ve completed this procedure.
Reset the passwords associated with your email address and make sure your other accounts are safe and secure. It’s a good idea to generate new, unique passwords that include multiple words and at least one special character.
Lock your Steam account remotely. This can be done from any email address associated with your Steam account. More instructions can be found on the official support page.
Gather any proof of account ownership. This includes CD Keys, Steam Gift Cards, Paysafecards, PayPal account information, credit cards or debit cards that have been associated with purchases on the account in question.
Start the official account recovery process with the help of Steam Support from this link.
How to Defend Against Steam Account Hacking
It’s impossible to fully prevent phishing schemes and other forms of malicious activity that could compromise your account security. However, there are several ways to be vigilant and proactively prevent a hacker from gaining unauthorized access to your account(s).
Your first line of defense against account takeover is your own pair of eyes and ears. If you receive an email that seems fishy, like a complaint from Valve that says something ridiculous or alarming, but forces you to click on a link and enter your login credentials on a webpage – immediately exit your browser, scan your system for malware, then go back and report this email as a phishing scam. You can also quickly and easily identify if a website is legitimate by looking at the URL bar. If the URL bar shows a locked lock pad and “https://” in front of the URL address, you are looking at a real website and can breathe a sigh of relief.
Either way, there’s no reason for any Steam admin to ask you for login credentials in an email or anywhere else on the internet. If someone claims to be a Steam administrator but asks you for confidential information, you should immediately ignore them and report the message as a phishing attempt.
It’s also important to make sure your Steam account is as secure as possible. Steam itself has a few security options through SteamGuard, which you need to enable in your Steam account settings. Once this option is enabled, you will want to provide as much information and enable as many of the following backup options as possible:
Two-factor authentication via email