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NSA Collect Gamers' Chats and Deploy Real-Life Agents Into WoW and Second Life 293

Posted by samzenpus
from the for-the-horde dept.
An anonymous reader writes in with news that some NSA agents were trying to dig up info by joining the horde. "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 agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which has 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."
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NSA Collect Gamers' Chats and Deploy Real-Life Agents Into WoW and Second Life

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  • by jddeluxe (965655) on Monday December 09, 2013 @12:55PM (#45640599)
    They're not infiltrating anything; some of the sharper razors there have scammed their PHB's into letting them play WoW all day and get paid for it....
  • Clever bastards (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GrumpySteen (1250194) on Monday December 09, 2013 @12:56PM (#45640611)

    I'm generally opposed to the NSA's actions, but I have to admire the ones who were clever enough to talk their superiors into paying them to play WoW all day in the interests of national security.

  • Pathetic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09, 2013 @01:01PM (#45640665)

    The surveillance revelations so far have been scary, sinister, infuriating, offensive. But this one? This is just... sad.

    OK, bad guys could potentially use the in-game comms functions on X-Box live to plans their nefarious deeds, but do we really need to be paying teams of people to go into the games and play them all day long? If they really need to snoop on that shit (they don't) then couldn't they just hoover up all the conversations and analyse them offline like they do our emails, phone calls, texts etc? What additional benefit does having someone actually in the game world offer? Are they worried that somewhere out there a virtual ogre and elf controlled by kiddie-porn-terrorists are communicating in avatar sign language or something? This is fucking ridiculous.

    Our government is telling us they can't afford basic shit like hospitals and education and welfare, but they can afford to pay dorks to play Xbox all fucking day. I get the feeling some very ballsy gamer put together a presentation to get paid taxpayers' money for playing CoD all day long and hit the jackpot. If there was any justice on this fucking planet we'd all be knee deep in fired "intelligence" agents months ago.

  • Rubbish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Monday December 09, 2013 @01:12PM (#45640801)

    If you were a terrorist organization, you would play a video game where chats are monitored by the company as a rule? No you would not. Monitoring text is clearly in the EULA of these games, and private chats are logged just like group/party, raid, etc.. chats are logged. If you truly believe in this fantasy of propaganda please go visit your local mental health professional and request medication immediately.

    Now if you were asking "Are some corrupt fuckers in a 3 letter agency advocating that agents try to recruit people on these MMO sites?" my reply would be different. Sure they would. Numerous 3 letter agencies have made it a habit of trolling forums and Facebook looking for patsies. They even found a few of them and gave them everything they needed including targets so that they could heroically save the day by busting the patsy at the scene of the crime with fake explosives that the agency provided. I don't put any shitty tactics beyond these people at this point.

  • Of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Monday December 09, 2013 @01:20PM (#45640859) Homepage Journal

    Of course the intelligence community is going to leak such a story, or ten, or a thousand. They want us to believe that they are actually catching terrorists, and they want us to believe that all they money they are pissing away is well spent. So, they'll tell us that they are catching Al Queda terrorists on WoW, and all the other gaming worlds.

    I certainly hope that they have infiltrated the online doll makers and doll costume crowd. I know of at least one red headed Pagan who frequents those sites. That woman is a holy terror, and God knows what kind of people she associates with!

  • Re:Rubbish (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheCarp (96830) <sjc&carpanet,net> on Monday December 09, 2013 @01:45PM (#45641167) Homepage

    > The only reason nobody's shooting random people or blowing stuff up all over the place is because
    > nobody wants it badly enough. If they did, well, look at what happened in Boston...

    Exactly. Hell I was just hearing on NPR about a refugee camp where "home made rifles" were found. How hard is it to get a tank of propane or a sack of flour? How hard is it to get gasoline, sulfuric acid, or nitrate containing soil? Point is, if people want weapons they can and will make them, no matter what you try to do to stop them.

    anybody who is in touch with the world enough to be able to read, do math, and generally solve problems and make plans can put together his own weapons of some sort, including bombs. There are plenty of examples of people who did it (many of whom were not even terrorists and didn't hurt anyone; if not most, since there are more teenagers living in the sticks with fuck all to do than there are terrorists)

    So where does that leave us? If most teenagers who really set their mind to it could come up with a way to blow shit up, why is it shit isn't blowing up for the most part? Why do we not have bedlam?

    There really is only that one answer.

  • Tin Foil Hat (Score:2, Insightful)

    by csumpi (2258986) on Monday December 09, 2013 @01:58PM (#45641293)
    Nobody could've said stuff like this a year ago without wearing an invisible Tin Foil Hat.

    Today nobody can say that the middle class is being destroyed in the name of strengthening the middle class, or big banks are getting bigger in the name of stopping too big to fail, without being called a Tea Bagger, a Bigot, or a Racist.

    In the meantime the rich are getting richer, the politicians more powerful, and don't care because the voters believe every lie they tell with a Straight Face.
  • Re:Of course (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cold fjord (826450) on Monday December 09, 2013 @02:10PM (#45641425)

    The potential is there. Isn't it one of the complains against the security agencies that they show a "failure of imagination" in dealing with potential terrorist threats, resulting in spectacular attacks like 9/11? Are you suggesting perpetuating that? Should the terrorists "out think" the security agencies?

    MetaTerror: The Potential Use of MMORPGs by Terrorists By Andrew Cochran [counterterrorismblog.org] - 2007

    While the makers of Second Life (Linden Labs) pursue an admirable utopian ideal these metaverse systems can potentially also be used by those seeking to pursue a radical agenda. Many of the overwhelmingly positive features of Second Life can be adapted for negative Real Life means. The rapid and potent way in which communication takes place would seem to be an ideal platform for recruitment into radical groups, especially given the age range of those engaged in the world, which is typically 18-34. The teaching capabilities of the world can clearly be adapted for use by terrorists.

    Streaming video can be uploaded into Second Life and a scenario can easily be constructed whereby an experienced terrorist bomb-maker could demonstrate how to assemble bombs using his avatar to answer questions as he plays the video. Using the decentralized organization effect, already successfully used by SL companies, the bomb-maker and his pupils can be spread around the globe and using instant language translation tools (available in the world) could be speaking a variety of languages. Just as Real Life companies such as Toyota test their products in Second Life so could terrorists construct virtual representations of targets they wish to attack in order to examine the potential targets vulnerabilities and reaction to attack. But possibly by far the most useful tool currently available to radical groups is the ability to transfer in-world money between avatars that can be translated into real currency. The Second Life currency of Lindens (approximately $270L to $1US) can be bought using a credit card in one country and credited to one avatar (account) and can be given to a co-conspirator avatar in another country. The person controlling this second avatar can then convert these lindens to the real-world currency wherever they are based using a local credit card or paypal equivalent. Clearly the ability to transfer money in this fashion is a very useful function. While Linden Labs sets a limit on the amount of currency an avatar can buy or sell (typically $5000US) this is likely to change and $5000 gets you a long way in many parts of the world.

    DETECTING MONEY LAUNDERING AND TERRORISM FINANCING ACTIVITY IN SECOND LIFE AND WORLD OF WARCRAFT [ecu.edu.au] - 2010

    In recent years there has been much debate about the risks posed by virtual environments. Concern is growing about the ease in which virtual worlds and virtual reality role-playing games such as Second Life and World of Warcraft can be used for economic crimes such as financially motivated cybercrime, money laundering and terrorism financing. Currently, virtual environments are not subject to the strict financial controls and reporting requirements of the real world, therefore, they offer an excellent opportunity for criminals and terrorism financers to carry out their illegal activities unhindered and with impunity. This paper demonstrates the need for suitable approaches, tools and techniques which can be used to detect money laundering and terrorism financing in virtual environments and introduces a research project which aims to establish a comprehensive set of behaviour maps, rule bases and models to help in the fight against organised crime and terrorism.

    Technology is neutral - it can be put to purposes both good or evil. The surgeon's knife can heal or mutilate. When you integrate virtual worlds with the real world in some way, there is

  • Damn right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 09, 2013 @04:22PM (#45642875)

    In North America, more people are killed every year by their own furniture falling on them than by terrorism. Terrorism the single most over-hyped thing I can remember hearing about in my lifetime.

    Terrorists are cowardly criminals and even if they were blowing up a large government building every week they could not do any lasting and significant harm to an actual free and democratic society.

    However, people are over-reacting to terrorism, and allowing the media and authoritarian types in government to fear-monger about it and use it as an excuse to help push petty tyrannies like the TSA and even serious threats to liberty like the NSA spying on all of us. AMERICANS ARE DAMAGING THEIR GREAT NATION by allowing this to happen. Your Constitution used to mean something, something incredible and empowering. It made you the envy of the developed world and created great opportunities for those who were clever and worked hard to make a better world for themselves and others. You need to wake up, reclaim your country and stop this downward slide into totalitarianism.

  • Re:Damn right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by runeghost (2509522) on Monday December 09, 2013 @04:46PM (#45643125)

    In North America, more people are killed every year by their own furniture falling on them than by terrorism. Terrorism the single most over-hyped thing I can remember hearing about in my lifetime.

    Terrorists are cowardly criminals and even if they were blowing up a large government building every week they could not do any lasting and significant harm to an actual free and democratic society.

    However, people are over-reacting to terrorism, and allowing the media and authoritarian types in government to fear-monger about it and use it as an excuse to help push petty tyrannies like the TSA and even serious threats to liberty like the NSA spying on all of us. AMERICANS ARE DAMAGING THEIR GREAT NATION by allowing this to happen. Your Constitution used to mean something, something incredible and empowering. It made you the envy of the developed world and created great opportunities for those who were clever and worked hard to make a better world for themselves and others. You need to wake up, reclaim your country and stop this downward slide into totalitarianism.

    Yep. Osama bin Laden, for all that he's dead, basically won. And his biggest ally was the US security industry.

  • by i kan reed (749298) on Monday December 09, 2013 @05:09PM (#45643367) Homepage Journal

    Sorry, I didn't mean to tar an entire group of people. That really wasn't my intent, but it does come across exactly that way. Which is indefensible, and you have my apologies, if nothing else. I know that even if I didn't mean it as a judgement, the kind of people who would judge you would see that kind of statement as validation of their beliefs.

    I, in no, way, shape, or form think that even a tenth of a percentage of people meeting those descriptors would actually even consider terrorism morally acceptable.

    Again, sorry, that post was, at the very least, insufficiently clear.

  • Re:Damn right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sabriel (134364) on Monday December 09, 2013 @06:39PM (#45644601)

    ... No, you're right, he didn't win.

    ... We didn't either.

    Instead of an Islamic caliphate, we're up to our waist in an authoritarian plutocracy. If that is victory, one more such might undo us.

  • More misdirection (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Camael (1048726) on Tuesday December 10, 2013 @12:00AM (#45647375)

    The ultimate strategic goal for Bin Laden and his followers is a world of Muslims living under Sharia law. It is a long term goal to be sure. But getting the US out of Saudia Arabia and all the rest is just short term goals. Ultimately they want to see the US converted to Islam, and living under Sharia law. The language is somewhat stylized, in accordance with their religious nature, but fairly clear if you will see. The demand for conversion is pretty straightforward, and the call for Sharia only slightly diffused but you can see it - and it follows naturally from the conversion demand.

    Beware the person who uses weasel words like "ultimately", "fairly clear" and "follows naturally". It means he's trying to pull a fast one. Beware also a poster who selectively cuts and pastes passages out of context to push his own agenda. I strongly recommend that anyone who has an interest in the matter to go read the full, unedited letter rather than rely on someone who is, as others have already pointed out, likely to be a paid government shill.

    To show you the dangers of citing out of context, I point you to the following passage of the same letter :-

    We call you to be a people of manners, principles, honour, and purity; to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling's, and trading with interest.

    Doesn't that sound very much like what some of the bible belt conservatives in the US are pushing for? Can I then exclude everything else in the letter and based solely on that one passage, argue that the Osama group's ultimate goal is to turn America into a land of "manners, principles, honour, and purity"?

    Because this manner of argument is exactly what the previous poster has done.

Never buy from a rich salesman. -- Goldenstern

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