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Mon Dec 9, 2013, 07:11 AM

Revealed: Spy Agencies' Covert Push to Infiltrate Virtual World of Online Games (Snowden/NSA) [View all]

Source: The Guardian

Revealed: spy agencies' covert push to infiltrate virtual world of online games

NSA and GCHQ collect gamers' chats and deploy real-life agents into World of Warcraft and Second Life


James Ball
theguardian.com, Monday 9 December 2013 07.00 EST

To the National Security Agency analyst writing a briefing to his superiors, the situation was clear: their current surveillance efforts were lacking something. The agency's impressive arsenal of cable taps and sophisticated hacking attacks was not enough. What it really needed was a horde of undercover Orcs.

That vision of spycraft sparked a concerted drive by the NSA and its UK sister agency GCHQ to infiltrate the massive communities playing online games, according to secret documents disclosed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica.

The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which boasts more than 48 million players. Real-life agents have been deployed into virtual realms, from those Orc hordes in World of Warcraft to the human avatars of Second Life. There were attempts, too, to recruit potential informants from the games' tech-friendly users.

- snip -

The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a "target-rich communications network" where intelligence targets could "hide in plain sight".

Games, the analyst wrote "are an opportunity!". According to the briefing notes, so many different US intelligence agents were conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group was required to ensure they weren't spying on, or interfering with, each other.

If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people's social networks through "buddylists and interaction", to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications.

Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/09/nsa-spies-online-games-world-warcraft-second-life

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Reply Revealed: Spy Agencies' Covert Push to Infiltrate Virtual World of Online Games (Snowden/NSA) [View all]
Hissyspit Dec 2013 OP
newfie11 Dec 2013 #1
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