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Stephen Toulouse passes away at 45

People across the industry mourn the loss of tech security and community safety expert

Community and computer security expert Stephen "Stepto" Toulouse has died at the age of 45. His brother Jeff shared the news on Twitter last night.

"It is with heavy hearts that we announce the loss of our brother, Stephen Toulouse, @Stepto, this morning. Beloved son, brother and uncle," Jeff said.

The news was immediately met with condolences and remembrances from across the industry.

"It was such a joy to work with him back at HBO and Xbox, this is just heartbreaking," said Campo Santo art director Claire Hummel.

"@Stepto was a shining beacon of kindness and joy who always made time for so many of us. I'll miss him terribly," said Foo VR CEO Will Smith.

"@Stepto made me feel better about things in my life. He did that for many people. I can't believe he is gone," said Talos security researcher David Maynor.

"I found out earlier today and it still just feels impossible that such a force of nature and goodness wouldn't be endless," said Crash Override CEO Zoe Quinn, adding, "He's touched so many lives and done so much for so many of us... I can't even imagine how many of us there are honestly. Few people have had such a huge, positive impact on the world."

Toulouse's most visible role in the games industry would have been the years he spent as the director of Microsoft's Xbox Live policy and enforcement team, when he not only helped define the service's approach to community conduct and security, but also appeared regularly with Larry "Major Nelson" Hryb on his podcast. That capped off an initial 17-year run with Microsoft for Toulouse, and he followed it up with relatively brief stints at a number of technology, games, and media outfits, including an additional stint with Microsoft as the director of community engagement for Gears of War outfit Black Tusk Studio. More recently, Toulouse had been working as a senior security advisor for Electronic Arts.

Though Toulouse was only 45, he was in some ways fortunate to have lived this long. Two years ago, Toulouse fell into a coma so deep he was virtually brain dead, drawing his family to travel to his bedside to make the call on when to pull the plug. Toulouse recovered from the coma, and wrote about the experience on his personal blog.

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