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Pokemon Go

Pentagon cracks down on Pokémon Go

The Pentagon has reportedly banned the increasingly popular Pokémon Go over fears of spying.

According to Washington Times security blog 'Inside the Ring', a Pentagon source said that the Defense Department has banned the playing of the mobile game app in its facilities as it is feared it could help foreign spying.

On 19 July, a memo was sent to all officials and defence contractors saying that playing Pokémon Go creates a potential security risk to secure and sensitive facilities.

The Washington Post says that the game could provide personal data on Pentagon officials with access to secrets and information that could be used in cyber attacks or spying recruitment attempts.

Pentagon security officials are reportedly worried that the Global Positioning System – the satellite network for maps of areas – Pokémon Go uses could deliver absolute accuracy on room locations and other places where secrets are stored.

The successful augmented reality app, developed by Niantic, Inc. utilises Google Maps to put users in a real-world city location on their mobile device.

Players then look for Pokémon creatures and capture them, increasing the user’s experience level.

In its early release last month, a Pokémon ‘gym’ appeared at the Pentagon, and disappeared soon after.

It was reported by the Wall Street Journal on July 13 that players who downloaded the app on iPhones were surrendering huge amounts of private data if they signed in using their Google accounts. A software update then changed the data amount that Niantic, Inc. can obtain.

An earlier security concern came from Chinese conspiracy theorists last month, who expressed fears at the possibility that Pokémon Go could be part of an American-Japanese plot to find the location of secret Chinese military bases.

It has also been claimed that Pokémon Go players who try to cheat are getting lifetime bans by Niantic, after complaints from other users. The game developer has also commenced legal action against software creators who have seemingly breached the terms of use.

Some supposed cheaters have used software capable of playing the game 24 hours a day, tricking the in-app location system into believing the user is moving and catching Pokémon – meaning players massively increase the power of their creatures and get an unfair advantage.

On its website, Niantic said that its goal is “to provide a fair, fun and legitimate game experience for everyone. We will continue to work with all of you to improve the quality of the gameplay, including ongoing optimisation and fine-tuning of our anti-cheat system.”

Niantic have also started banning users who are guilty of “falsifying your location, using emulators, modified or unofficial software and/or accessing Pokémon Go clients or backends in an unauthorised manner including through the use of third party software.”


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