Real-Life Agents Spying on Online Gaming Communities – Leaked Document
In the past few months, dynamics of internet communications have been discussed to a great extent. In the aftermath of the Snowden leaks, Internet users have been conscious of being spied on without having any criminal background. However, during those few months gamers community remained happy. Who would deploy real-life agents to spook on online gaming community? Well, sorry dear gamers but your peaceful playful days are apparently gone too.
NSA Spying gamers and GVEs?
Reported by Guardian – which has been actually releasing all the documents by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – National Security Agency (NSA) and its British sister agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) started a concerted drive to infiltrate the online gaming communities believing games “are an opportunity.”
“Al-Qaida terrorist target selectors and … have been found associated with Xbox Live, Second Life, World of Warcraft, and other GVEs [games and virtual environments], … Other targets include Chinese hackers, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Hizballah, and Hamas members.” – NSA leaked document.
The latest document titled “Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments” is going to be published today and shows NSA’s mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network among others. Xbox Live is a 48 million players strong community, now reportedly deployed with real-life agents.
This latest NSA document was written back in 2008 – so you have been potentially spied on for last 5 years, oops! – and has stressed the risk of leaving online games communities under-monitored. NSA leaked document mentions online gaming communities as target-rich communications network where targets could hide in plain sight. The agency, according to the report, also tried recruiting potential informants from among the gamers’ communities.
“terrorists use online games – but perhaps not for their amusement. They are suspected of using them to communicate secretly and to transfer funds.” – 2007 invitation of a secret internal briefing.
Games are capable of enabling the security agencies with tons of information that may not be available otherwise. From gaming tracks to gamers’ social networks, their buddylists paired with photos and geolocation can give enormous amounts of insights to the agents. Later on the agents also made connections of games data with information linked to terrorist groups such as IP and email addresses.
In this document agency has also expressed its concerns about these games being used for reinforcing prejudices and mentioning Hezbollah’s production of a game called Special Forces 2. This game was used by Hezbollah for recruitment and training purposes with the ultimate goal of becoming a suicide martyr according to a press release mentioned by the leaked document. Special Forces 2 is worth $10, possibly funding the terrorist organization, according to the document.
NSA spying gamers and GVEs: World of Warcraft, Xbox Live, Second Life among other Games and Virtual Environments (GVEs).