What happens if I revoke my Steam API key? A detailed look

Hey there fellow gamer! Revoking your Steam API key is an important move if you think it‘s been compromised or want to cut off access. But what exactly does revoking do? As an avid Steam user myself, I‘ll walk you through everything that happens when you revoke your Steam Web API key.

Why Would You Revoke Your Steam API Key?

First, let‘s quickly cover what a Steam API key is used for. The Steam API allows external applications to connect to your Steam account to access data like your friends list, game inventory, playtime stats, and more. The API key identifies the application and grants it access.

You may want to revoke a Steam API key in situations like:

  • You notice suspicious activity on your Steam account suggesting the key was stolen.
  • An application you gave the key to is now outdated or no longer needed.
  • You are doing periodic security reviews of API access.
  • You want to migrate your Steam account and disable all keys on the old one.

Basically any time unauthorized access or lack of use indicates revoking the key is wise.

Step-by-Step Guide to Revoking Your Key

The process of revoking a Steam API key through the Steam website is simple:

  1. Login to your Steam account and visit the API key management page at https://steamcommunity.com/dev/apikey.

  2. Locate the key you want to revoke in the list. Keys are labeled by the domain of the site or app using them.

  3. Click the "Reset" button next to the key.

  4. Confirm you want to revoke the selected key when prompted.

Once revoked, that particular key is permanently disabled and access immediately cut off. Any apps using that key will cease working, so you may need to update their settings.

Here is a quick 40 second video demonstrating the revocation process:

[Embed video walkthrough of revoking a Steam API key]

Straightforward right? Now let‘s dig into what revoking does under the hood…

Consequences If You Don‘t Revoke Compromised Keys

Failing to revoke a compromised key leaves the door open for abuse by attackers. According to cybersecurity firm Night Lion Security, between 2020-2021 cases of stolen Steam API keys being sold online and used maliciously increased by 193%.

With your API key, bad actors could:

  • Access your personal info like email and full name
  • See your entire friends list
  • View your inventory of in-game items
  • Obtain your Steam Guard codes for account access
  • Retrieve your purchase history and transactions
  • Check time played across games
  • Potentially hijack tradeable items

Table 1 shows some of the sensitive data exposed with API key access:

Data Exposed Risks
Inventory Steal tradeable items
Friends list Target account contacts
Email Enable password resets
Steam guard codes Bypass 2FA for account access

As you can see, a compromised API key in the wrong hands could enable wider account hijacking and item theft. That‘s why revoking quickly is so important.

When Revoking Your Steam API Key is Prudent

To give you a better idea of situations where revoking your API key is advised, here are 5 common scenarios:

1. You lose access to the key

If you saved your key in a now inaccessible place or it was accidentally leaked, revoking prevents misuse.

2. The app using the key is obsolete

If an app you granted API access is outdated or you‘ve stopped using it, revoke that key to cut off access.

3. You migrate your Steam account

When transitioning accounts, revoke keys on the old one you‘re moving away from for a fresh start.

4. Your account security is compromised

If your account is hacked, revoking the API key can limit the damage by cutting off API access.

5. You audit API access periodically

As a security best practice, review approved apps and revoke keys that look suspicious or are no longer recognized.

Revoking keys in these types of situations reduces the attack surface.

What Happens Once a Steam API Key is Revoked?

Once you revoke a Steam API key through the website, here is what happens:

  • The key is permanently deactivated and can no longer be used for API access.
  • Any apps using that specific key immediately lose access to your Steam account.
  • The effects are instantaneous – access is blocked as soon as you revoke.
  • Getting a new key does not reactivate a revoked one.
  • You can still have multiple other valid keys active.

So in summary, revoking decisively cuts off access through that particular API key. The key itself cannot be reactivated, so if the requesting app still needs access, you‘ll have to generate a new key.

Best Practices for Steam API Key Security

API keys are powerful so it‘s important to handle them securely. Here are my top tips:

  • Revoke unused keys – Don‘t let old keys linger to avoid forgotten access.

  • Limit sharing – Only provide keys to trusted apps that require them.

  • Use per-app keys – Separate keys for each app prevents access spreading.

  • Review periodically – Audit approved apps and deactivate suspicious keys.

  • Rotate keys – Expire and replace old keys every 6-12 months as general security hygiene.

  • Use Steam Guard – Enabling 2FA requires additional verification when API logging in.

  • Store keys securely – Never check API keys into public source code repositories!

Following practices like these reduces the risks if a key does get compromised.

Closing Thoughts

I hope this guide gave you a detailed overview of what happens when you revoke your Steam API key and why it‘s an important tool for securing your account. If you have any other questions on Steam API access, account security, or gaming in general, let me know! I‘m always happy to chat more as a fellow gaming enthusiast.

Stay safe out there and happy Steam gaming!

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