Simon Willison’s Weblog


Outlook not so good

3rd October 2003

Yesterday, the Half-Life 2 source code was leaked (all 100 MB of it). Today comes the news from Valve that the leaked version is indeed the real thing, and that the leak was almost certainly the result of keystroke recorders installed remotely on Valve machines using a buffer overflow in Outlook’s preview pane.


Valve are seeking the assistance of the community to help them track down the culprit, who may also be responsible for Denial of Service attacks against their network. I think this is the most serious targetted cracking attempt I’ve ever read about.

As for the source itself being available, the biggest concern seems to be that it will allow cheaters to truly rip the new Half-Life engine to shreds. I used to play a lot of online games, and nothing ruins a game more than cheating.

That said, the most interesting comment I read about the leak was this one on Slashdot describing how the leak of the source code for Falcon 4.0 lead to a huge community effort to dramatically improve the original game. Since Valve already have a great history of supporting the modding community I doubt that the effects of this leak will be nearly as beneficial.

This is Outlook not so good by Simon Willison, posted on 3rd October 2003.

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