Suspected 'Half-Life' code thieves arrested

Game developer Valve Software says suspects nabbed in theft of source code.

Game developer Valve Software announced on Thursday that law enforcement authorities have arrested several suspects for allegedly stealing source code for the highly anticipated game "Half-Life 2."

Valve CEO Gabe Newell said in a statement that arrests were made in several countries. He credited customers with helping identify the suspects.

"Within a few days of the announcement of the break-in, the online gaming community had tracked down those involved," Newell said. "It was extraordinary to watch how quickly and how cleverly gamers were able to unravel what are traditionally unsolvable problems for law enforcement related to this kind of cybercrime."

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Valve did not offer any information on the identity, nationality or legal status of the suspects and referred all questions to the FBI's regional Cyber Crime Task Force in Seattle. An FBI representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNET The agency told GameSpot, a sister site, only that it had made some arrests in the case.

Newell confirmed in October that hackers had broken into Valve's network and downloaded the entire source code tree for "Half-Life 2," which was later redistributed via online forums.

The game is a sequel to the popular shooter "Half-Life" and was originally due out late last year. The theft posed numerous security risks for the online game and forced struggling publisher Vivendi Universal to delay the release, now set for an unspecified date this summer.

The timing of the arrest announcement lends credence to reports in German technology publication Heise Online and other venues that the "Half Life 2" theft may be tied to Agobot, the destructive Trojan horse. According to Heise, a German man recently arrested in connection with Agobot boasted in online forums of hacking into Valve.

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