Towards the end of November, Valve implemented a system of 'trade holds' (opens in new tab) on Steam: three-day waiting periods between trade orders and their execution. If your account has been compromised and some soulless creature is trading away all of your items, the hold ought to give you the chance to discover the fraud and put a stop to it. The holds can be got around completely by using Steam Guard two-factor authentication, which necessitates the use of a second iOS or Android device. However, many weren't happy with the new waiting period, particularly those without compatible smartphones. Valve has now opted to walk us through its reasoning, and has some scary stats to back it up with.
According to the mammoth 'Security and Trading' post (opens in new tab), over 77,000 Steam accounts are raided every month. It's not the random trolling of script kiddies—the internet's go-to nebulous ne'er-do-wells—but organised networks of hackers in the virtual hat game for real profit. Since the introduction of Steam Trading, account theft has increased 20-fold. Rarely do compromised accounts have Steam Guard enabled.
Thus, Valve feels justified in forcefully suggesting that would-be traders activate Steam Guard by way of trade holds: if two-factor security has been enabled for at least seven days, no hold for you; if not, you've got a three-day wait, dropping to one if the trade recipient has been on your friends list for more than a year. This does leave those without a compatible Android or iOS system to twiddle their thumbs, but Valve is adamant that this is the way it has to be.
I've never so much as swapped a trading card (opens in new tab), so this isn't an imposition for me, but how about the rest of you? Is this a change that's likely to hamper your virtual business dealings?