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U.S. Navy Contracts to Build Tools for Extracting Info from Video Game Systems

June 7th, 2012 | Posted by Jason Staggs in privacy | Social networks | Terrorism

Before deciding to participate in your favorite online games, you might be interested to know what the government is potentially cooking up that would potentially allow them to monitor your online gaming activities.

According to an article on ZDNet, The United States Navy has awarded a six-figure contract to a company based in California to develop computer forensics tools for analyzing network traffic and data stored on video game consoles such as Sony’s PlayStation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360, and Nintendo’s Wii. The U.S. government says it is interested in using these tools to acquire any sensitive data exchanged through the in-game messaging chat room services and to easily extract any data that might be stored on these consoles.

Today’s video game systems serve as a single multipurpose device allowing users to do everything from storing and playing back multimedia content to social networking, online banking, and even watching informative YouTube videos demonstrating how to make a bomb. All of these activities leave behind a trail of evidence that could be used against a user. Couple that information with data like the handles of chat room partners, messaging logs, and even what video game was being played at a specific time and you have some great admissible evidence that could be used in the courts.

It has been speculated that terrorists have and are using these online gaming systems as a means to communicate information with one another, which is another reason the government is pushing for this kind of research and development. For those of you who are concerned about your privacy (as we all should be), the government has stated it plans to use these tools only for international military operations, not domestically. However, seeing these same tools applied on consoles within the U.S. in the near future is something I personally think will inevitably happen.

The U.S. Navy’s statement of work for this project calls for the development of proof of concept prototype rigs for capturing data from the video game systems, with final deliverables including hardware and software extraction tool sets. All of this is expected to be completed in a little over a year.

Jason Staggs

Jason Staggs

Jason is True's Security Analyst Intern and is currently a senior at Oklahoma State University. He is pursuing his Bachelors in Information Assurance and Forensics and will be obtaining CNSS 4011-4016 certifications upon graduation in the summer of 2012. Jason plans to pursue his graduate degree in the near future. His information security interests include penetration testing, social engineering and forensics.

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