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Half Life 2

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Valve announced Half-Life 2 at E3 in May 2003, where it won several awards for best in show. Originally slated for release in September 2003, the game was delayed in the wake of the cracking of Valve’s internal network.




The network was accessed through a null session connection to a server owned by Tangis, which was hosted in Valve’s network, and a subsequent upload of an ASP shell, resulting in the leak of the game’s source code and many other files including maps, models and a playable early version of Half-Life 2 in early September 2003. On October 2, 2003, Valve CEO Gabe Newell publicly explained in the Halflife2.net (now ValveTime.net) forums the events that Valve experienced around the time of the leak, and requested users to track down the perpetrators if possible.

In June 2004, Valve Software announced in a press release that the FBI had arrested several people suspected of involvement in the source code leak. Valve claimed the game had been leaked by a German black-hat hacker named Axel “Ago” Gembe. After the leak, Gembe had contacted Newell through e-mail (also providing an unreleased document planning the E3 events).




Newell kept corresponding with Gembe, and Gembe was led into believing that Valve wanted to employ him as an in-house security auditor. He was to be offered a flight to the USA and was to be arrested on arrival by the FBI. When the German government became aware of the plan, Gembe was arrested in Germany instead, and put on trial for the leak as well as other computer crimes in November 2006, such as the creation of Agobot, a highly successful trojan which harvested users’ data.




At the trial in November 2006 in Germany, Gembe was sentenced to two years’ probation. In imposing the sentence, the judge took into account such factors as Gembe’s difficult childhood and the fact that he was taking steps to improve his situation.

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