Back in October 2003 a German hacker named Axel Gembe, leaked the source code for Half Life 2 and the game was in development for five years. Shortly after after the leak, Axel Gembe, was arrested from his hometown.
It has been thirteen years since the incident and now Gembe has spoken out about how he hacked the Valve servers, leaked the game and how sorry for what he has done.
Gembe was interviewed by author of Death By Video Game, Simon Parkin, and asked how a lone hacker hacked the severs of one of the biggest game developers’ servers.
According to Gembe he started hacking due to a malware, that he was stupid enough to install in his system.
I got into hacking by being infected myself. It was a program that pretended to be a Warcraft 3 key generator and I was stupid enough to run it. It was an sdbot, a popular general-purpose malware at the time.
He further explained that rather being furious at himself he reverse engineered the malware, and by doing so found the creator of the malware. He also explained why he hacked the games.
At the time I couldn’t afford to buy games. So I coded my own malware to steal CD keys in order to unlock the titles I wanted to play. It grew quickly to one of the most prominent malwares at the time, mostly because I started writing exploits for some unpatched vulnerabilities in Windows.
Gembe said that the original Half Life was his favorite game and he wanted to know about the sequel. So he got an idea to hack the servers of Valve for information on Half Life 2. Gembe said he was not expecting to get anything, however, the first entry into the server was by accident.
Getting the source code was easy, but the game didn’t run on my computer. I made some code changes to get it to run in a basic form, but it wasn’t fun. Also, I only had the main development ‘trunk’ of the game. They had so many development branches that I couldn’t even begin to check them all out.
Gembe admitted that he was not the one who leaked Half Life 2 source code to the public, however, he was the one to provide the code to the person who did. He expressed regret about the whole thing, and did not wanted the things to happen the way they happened.
He also revealed that Gabe Newell called him for a job interview, but in reality it was a sting operation to get him confess about the hack of Half Life 2.