Security agencies spied on online gaming community

9 December 2013
By Tereza Pultarova
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UK and US security agencies have reportedly spied the international online gaming community

UK and US security agencies have reportedly spied the international online gaming community 

The National Security Agency (NSA) and British GSHQ have spied on the international online gaming community, documents leaked by whistle blower Edward Snowden have revealed.

The NSA and GCHQ, built "mass collection capabilities" against the Xbox Live console network, the Guardian said. Other virtual environments such as World of Warcraft and Second Life have also said to have been infiltrated due to concerns such environments could be used by terrorists for anonymous online communication.

The games community was described in one NSA briefing note from 2008, entitled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, a "target-rich communications network" where intelligence targets could "hide in plain sight".

"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)," the document stated. "Other targets include Chinese hackers, an Iranian nuclear scientist, Hizballah, and Hamas members."

The paper suggested that, properly exploited, games could potentially be used as windows for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people's social networks and make approaches by undercover agents to recruit potential informants.

At one stage there were said to be so many US intelligence operatives conducting operations inside games that a "deconfliction" group had to be set up to ensure they did not end up spying on each other.

However, The Guardian said the documents contained no indication that the operations ever foiled any terrorism plots and there was no clear evidence that they were used by terror groups to communicate.

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