Covert Communications: Using Gaming Networks to Plot Terror

With all of the monitoring software that has been turned from legend into fact in the recent years, it can be perplexing that terroist organizations are still able to remotly plan and, as we have seen in recent days, execute attacks on high profile targets. However, officials in Belgum have come up with a way they were able to plan attackes such as Paris: using gaming networks such as Sony’s Playstation Network used on their Playstation 4

This is just the most recent in commercial networks and applications being used to plan terrorist activities. Before the use of the Playstation Network, terrorist organizations have been seen using a mobile application called WhatsApp, which uses the internet to send messages from person to person, and has been shown to be difficult to monitor due to its high traffic and method of sending messages.

The Playstation Network, however, has proven more difficult than WhatsApp when it comes to intercepting terrorist communications, due to their lack of ability to intercept peer-to-peer IP based voice chat. This would mean that a terrorist meet up could happen in something as simple as an online game, and authorities would never know about it.

This doesn’t mean that they haven’t tried to gain legal access to VoIP communications. In 2010, the FBI pushed to have all lanes of communication monitoried, though the FCC had declined to give them access to the network then.

The main issue, however, is beyond the legal scope. While we are able to profile potential terror affiliates based on their internet usage, it is very hard to do so based on their console usage (uless we already know a terror affiliate uses a certain account). This, along with the Playstation Network having over 110 million users (for scope, that would make it the 11th largest country in the world), makes it a really hard field to narrow down.

And that is just for voice communication. If you start thinking about it, there are even ways to conduct non-verbal communication over a gaming network, from in-game destructables to placing items to form words or symbols that could mean something, that would not be traceable later, as they would be reset according to the loading of the game.

With these in mind, communicating over gaming networks may be the next large step in clandestine communications between persons or bodies that do not want anyone listening in to their conversations, as there are currently no real steps to trace anything that might happen there. This could lead to governments and groups not being able to trace the traditonal methods of communication, and increases the likelyhood of an unexpected attack on a high profile target.

-Will G. Eatherly

Sources:

Daily Mail article on topic: http://tinyurl.com/pxxekka

List of Countries according to population: http://tinyurl.com/qb8f8mv

Forbes article on topic: http://tinyurl.com/omftmlk

 

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