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NSA is now spying on your World of Warcraft accounts too

by - 11 years ago


If you are an internet gaming troll, you may want to be careful because the NSA, CIA, and FBI could be listening in. The Guardian published a paper from the National Security Agency today that details information from both the NSA and their United Kingdom counterpart on the monitoring of communications in World of Warcraft, XBOX Live, Second Life, and many other games.

The document was written in 2007 and was provided to The Guardian by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. It reveals that the British communications-monitoring agency GCHQ had developed “exploit packages” for Xbox Live and World of Warcraft. NSA analysts proposed selectively targeting exploits for those and other “games and virtual environments” (GVE) based on intelligence that Al Qaeda members and other individuals of interest were using them. Potentially to communicate with each other and conduct training for terrorism. The Guardian explains:

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.

The ability to extract communications from talk channels in games would be necessary, the NSA paper argued, because of the potential for them to be used to communicate anonymously: Second Life was enabling anonymous texts and planning to introduce voice calls, while game noticeboards could, it states, be used to share information on the web addresses of terrorism forums.

And given that plenty of gamers use voice headsets, video cameras, and other such tech, there was a ready-to-be-tapped stream of biometric information, too. All that said, though, the document did not indicate that any of this data had ever foiled any terrorism plots. Nor, for that matter, is it clear that any terror groups really use such virtual communities to communicate, even though the NSA suspected they might.

Just another reason to watch what you do on the internet (even in gaming) because big brother is always watching…

JR Cook

JR has been writing for fan sites since 2000 and has been involved with Blizzard Exclusive fansites since 2003. JR was also a co-host for 6 years on the Hearthstone podcast Well Met! He helped co-found BlizzPro in 2013.

One response to “NSA is now spying on your World of Warcraft accounts too”

  1. Kastro says:

    I guess I should gquit my assassination rogue from Thanks Obama…