ISIS released a new video yesterday threatening to attack countries taking part in airstrikes on the group’s stronghold and vowing to attack Washington D.C.just few days after a coordinated attack was launched against France in the Batlacan which left over 100 people dead and 500 injured . However One of the most sensational news making the rounds following investigations into the attack from Brussels in belgium involves the Sony’s Playstation 4 being used as a covert communication device between the extremists.
“It’s very, very difficult for our services—not only Belgian services but international services—to decrypt the communication that is done via PlayStation 4-The most difficult communication between these terrorists is via PlayStation 4,” Jambon a senior security official said at the WHAT WORKS Brussels talk hosted by Politico .
There was no indication that this particular attack was planned out or coordinated using the PS4 or any other gaming console, but in the days following the event, Jambon’s words became the subject of a well-meaning, but intensely erroneous media narrative. Over the weekend, it was gathered from reliable sources that investigations into the Paris attack had led officials to “a number of raids in nearby Brussels” that ultimately turned up a Playstation 4.
The information, was later quoted as incorrect. Not only was there no confirmation that a PS4 had been confiscated, but in fact no description of any of the evidence found as a result of the Belgian raids had been public.
But by then the damage had been done.
In the days following that initial report, stories describing how terrorists could use Playstation’s voice chat and PSN features to communicate covertly began popping up .
Technically speaking, this is possible, terrorists looking to plan an attack could link up with one another while playing a shared game of “CALL-OF-DUTY” and discuss plans, but there’s no telling if that was the case in this particular instance. It was further added that other platforms and games like Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker could be used to hide messages in plain sight that would be nearly impossible to monitor. In a statement to Kotaku about the allegations the service was being used to coordinate terrorist plots, Sony® insisted that it took its “responsibilities to protect [its] users extremely seriously.” PlayStation 4 allows for communication amongst friends and fellow gamers, in common with all modern connected devices,” Sony said. “When we identify or are notified of such conduct, we are committed to taking appropriate actions in conjunction with the appropriate authorities.”
There are a number of things that can be taken away from Sony’s statement. Like all of the major gaming companies, Sony does, in fact, have protocols in place to deal with inappropriate behavior when properly flagged for attention. In theory, this means that the company probably could access a user’s custom maps and look through them for information about illegal activity. When you consider that the Playstation Network has about 65 million monthly active users, however, it’s difficult to imagine a world where Sony had the time or resources for surveillance on that scale. In the government’s opinion, online gaming communities are worth paying attention to.
In 2013, Edward Snowden’s leaked NSA documents detailed how dozens of operatives were embedded in various corners of XBox live described as a “target-rich communications network.”
Ultimately, any headlines suggesting that ISIS is buying up gaming consoles to strategize away from the prying eyes of the government have to be read with caution. The virtual worlds that we game in, like the real world, are expansive and impossible to monitor in their entirety. Are there criminals lurking out there in cyberspace? Of course, but that doesn’t mean online gaming is the next big threat we should fear.
Credits: Fusion, Reuters, Forbes, The independent.
Compiled, Edited and posted by: jimmyadesanya (Facebook.com/LinkedIn)