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Xbox Live among game services targeted by US and UK spy agencies

Xbox Live among game services targeted by US and UK spy agencies
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 files were obtained by the Guardian and are being published on Monday in partnership with the New York Times and ProPublica. The agencies, the documents show, have built mass-collection capabilities against the Xbox Live console network, which has more than 48 million players. Games, the analyst wrote, "are an opportunity!". If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the NSA document.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/09/nsa-spies-online-games-world-warcraft-second-life

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NSA Spying on Online Gaming Worlds The NSA is spying on chats in World of Warcraft and other games. There's lots of information -- and a good source document. While it's fun to joke about the NSA and elves and dwarves from World of Warcraft, this kind of surveillance makes perfect sense. If, as Dan Geer has pointed out, your assigned mission is to ensure that something never happens, the only way you can be sure that something never happens is to know everything that does happen. Which puts you in the impossible position of having to eavesdrop on every possible communications channel, including online gaming worlds. One bit (on page 2) jumped out at me:

Top-Secret Document Reveals NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit 'Radicalizers' WASHINGTON -- The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target's credibility, reputation and authority. The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are “viewing sexually explicit material online” and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

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Report: NSA spying on virtual worlds, online games LONDON (AP) — American and British intelligence operations have been spying on gamers across the world, media outlets reported, saying that the world's most powerful espionage agencies sent undercover agents into virtual universes to monitor activity in online fantasy games such as "World of Warcraft." Stories carried Monday by The New York Times, the Guardian, and ProPublica said U.S. and U.K. spies have spent years trawling online games for terrorists or informants. The stories, based on documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, offer an unusual take on America's world-spanning surveillance campaign, suggesting that even the fantasy worlds popular with children, teens, and escapists of all ages aren't beyond the attention of the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ. Spy agencies have long worried that such games serve as a good cover for terrorists or other evildoers who could use in-game messaging systems to swap information.

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Spy Games: NSA and CIA Allegedly Tried to Recruit World of Warcraft and Second Life Players The Internet is vast in ways no country’s clandestine security apparatuses could have anticipated: there’s simply no way to police it all. But that hasn’t stopped the NSA and CIA from poking around in interactive entertainment back corners and alleyways, trawling games like World of Warcraft and Second Life for cyber-ne’er-do-wells, according to a new report jointly published by the New York Times, the Guardian and ProPublica. In a report titled “World of Spycraft: NSA and CIA Spied in Online Games,” ProPublica lays out the framework by which the NSA and CIA allegedly worked to snoop in online games, attempting to zero in on terrorists or criminals who might try to use the hypothetically anonymous virtual environments to communicate, move money or plot attacks. As such, says ProPublica: The findings stem from the trove of classified information released by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. Information from that stack has been released intermittently since June 2013.

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