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Steam Gaming in work

Posted on 2009-02-16
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Last Modified: 2013-12-21
A number of users are running Steam on various business networks I look after.
I don't know much about it.

Has anyone performed any security analysis of this application?  
I shall probably enforce a removal policy, but just want the scoop first.  

Anyone?
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Question by:sheepfarmer
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lamaslany earned 800 total points
ID: 23654319
Is there something specific you are concerned about?  If they have installed Steam I'd be more worried that they had local admin rights!  :)
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by:sheepfarmer
ID: 23654366
Aside from the issue of gaming in work time I am concerned about potential security risks to business data through virus or other packages delivered via Steam.

We do trust our employees and don't wish to restrict them too much, but if the system risk is too great, then Steam has to go.

SF
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 800 total points
ID: 23654387
>>more worried that they had local admin rights!
LOL - me too!
You will need to block 1200, 27000-27015 (incl.) and 27020-27050 (incl.) to prevent the client contacting the Valve Servers
However it's entirely possible that they could download the server software and run it as a LAN gaming network.
Steam is effectively a game management client - originally it was designed to keep players supplied with the latest updates for their games but nowadays it is mainly used to manage licensing as a kind of DRM for games.

You can lose a lot of valuable bandwidth to "background" downloads via the client so either blacklist it, block the ports or agree a shoot on sight policy for users found with it installed :)

The system is secure and uses an https connection - I'm not aware of any reports of infection via downloads.
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LVL 19

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by:lamaslany
lamaslany earned 800 total points
ID: 23654392
I'd say the risk is very low in that regard..  The games are downloaded from secured Steam servers after which the downloaded content is verified (using some sort of hash I believe).  I'd be more concerned with the dangers posed by the online multiplayer aspects.
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by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 800 total points
ID: 23654435
Agreed - depends on how much downtime you want in terms of staff productivity. Additonally I forgot to mention that Steam is now being marketted to download third party games - most notably recently the latest Rockstar GTA4. Customers can purchase licences for the games and can download them onto as many machnies as they like but the licencing allows only one player to connect using each licence at any one time. Potentially therefore your players could be downloading several packages to play.
 
If you want to investigate further try www.steampowered.com
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LVL 17

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by:Anthony Russo
Anthony Russo earned 400 total points
ID: 23654447
Steam is one of the more popular gaming distribution systems on the Internet today. Developed by Valve Software http://valvesoftware.com for their flagship game HalfLife 2 it is now utilized by many companies for direct download of their gaming titles over the internet.

As far as Steam itself being a security concern. Not likely.

As far as the content on Steam that can be downloaded being a security concern. Not likely.

As far as Steam utilizing the company's bandwidth. Very likely as it is a download service, and many games are also to be played online utilizing additional bandwidth.

As far as productivity of the workers that have Steam installed on their system decreasing. Very likely as it is a gaming platform, unless they are utilizing it strictly off hours.

If your workers have had it and their have been no slowdowns in internet bandwidth or worker productivity, it might be able to remain, as it is probably a great morale boost, depending on your workplace and environment, but I would monitor the bandwidth and the workers carefully.

Good luck,

Anthony
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Author Comment

by:sheepfarmer
ID: 23654530
Indeed, the morale issue did string to mind :)  However, not being an avid game player myself, I not sure where the thrill is to spend more time behind a computer screen.  (there is a big world out there guys ...)

Is the Steeam download one way only (ie.. from the secure server) or is there an element of P2P sharing (aside from the data to play multiuser games).

SF

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LVL 17

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by:Anthony Russo
Anthony Russo earned 400 total points
ID: 23654636
Steam is it's own sort of social network, so there is Instant Messaging, statuses and other things inherent with that. If they have that installed though, they might also have some other popular apps installed that gamers utilize such as X-fire, Teamspeak, Ventrillo, and the like.

As I am a gamer (obviously), the ability to be able to play games during lunch hours and after hours would be a huge perk for a job to me, and I would make sure to do everything in my power to work to keep that ability. you have to judge your employees to see if it is worth letting it remain, or if it is in fact distracting from the work to be done.

Anthony

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Author Comment

by:sheepfarmer
ID: 23654946
Thank for all your comments - most useful
I have divided the points up

SF
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