Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke White House

September 16, 2008 -

Planning a high level raid is tough enough in World of Warcraft, but a Pentagon researcher warns that al Qaeda could plan a nuclear attack on the White House via the popular MMO.

Wired's Danger Room reports that  Dr. Dwight Toavs, a professor at the Pentagon-funded National Defense University laid out such a scenario at the National Intelligence Open Source Conference in Washington, D.C. last week:

...two World of Warcraft players discuss a raid on the "White Keep" inside the "Stonetalon Mountains." The major objective is to set off a "Dragon Fire spell" inside, and make off with "110 Gold and 234 Silver" in treasure. "No one will dance there for a hundred years after this spell is cast," one player, "war_monger," crows.

 

Except, in this case, the White Keep is at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. "Dragon Fire" is an unconventional weapon. And "110 Gold and 234 Silver" tells the plotters how to align the game's map with one of Washington, D.C.

 

... details are a little fuzzy. The terminology doesn't match World of Warcraft lingo, all that precisely. There is no "White Keep" in World of Warcraft; "Dragon Fire" is a spell in EverQuest, the old-school role-playing game, not WoW. But the banter is reminiscent enough of World of Warcraft talk, to give outsiders an idea of how such a conversation might go down -- and how hard it would be to identify.

But Steven Aftergood of the Federation of the American Scientists was skeptical:

This concern is out there. But it has to be viewed in context. It's the job of intelligence agencies to anticipate threats and counter them. With that orientation, they're always going to give more weight to a particular scenario than an objective analysis would allow. Could terrorists use Second Life? Sure, they can use anything. But is it a significant augmentation? That's not obvious. It's a scenario that an intelligence officer is duty-bound to consider. That's all.

For his part, Toavs believes that anti-terror operatives may have to go undercover in games like WoW.

GP: This issue comes up periodically from the counter-terror community. Usually, Second Life is the main suspect. But would terrorists really go to all the trouble of using WoW as an assembly area when IMs, PGP-encrypted e-mail and steganography are readily available?

Besides, wouldn't WoW-playing terrorists become addicted like everyone else and neglect their jihad?

Finally, We've reported previously that Middle-East expert Juan Cole has dismissed the MMO terror cell notion:

What's the real game here?

...The notion that wandering around such an imaginary world with a computerized body is dangerous to anyone seems itself cartoonish and calls into question the public hand-wringing by security experts.
 

 


Comments

Re: Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke

If anything in stonetalon gave 110 gold and "234" silver.... it'd be camped day in and day out. This is paranoia, nothing else to see here, move along.

Re: Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke

It should also be noted that those names as they currently appear couldn't even exist within WoW....

But I think these intel guys should realize that it's harder than hell to glean information from MMOs or online games in general.  Some much shit is spewed out... everything from racist remarks to absolute shock statements.  I don't think you could even tell what is real and what isn't.

Dragonspine Trophy anyone?

Re: Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke

i think i smell.... bush fueled parnionia? anybody else feel that way /:|

Jesus Jack Jones Thompson told me to do it!

Jesus Jack Jones Thompson loves you, so kill for his amusement so we can get money for the new "People's Temple of Jesus Jack Jones Thompson"

Re: Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke

Um couldn't someone just use alternative words to mean "Go Blow up the White House" in other things besides a MMO?

Re: Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke

Excuse me, but if I were a memeber of a terrorist cell I wouldn't use the General chat function, nor would I /yell in the center of Ironforge.

Honestly, how are "undercover operatives" going to listen in on an /tell or /party?

Re: Pentagon Paranoia? How Terrorists Might Use WoW to Nuke

Porn Terrorist Ad or chat:
Go blow the white stuff with the...

Or they could be smart enough to come up with a system that was set up before hand that uses certain letters, like the first, last, or the 23rd, and start back at the beginning of the word if there isnt enough letters.  Then using different languages mixed together, invert the letters in each word and every third word be switch with the word 2 words before it.  It is all stuff the CIA knows pretty well.  They even use it.  They even have a statue in the courtyard of their building that uses it, and no one has EVER decoded the last segment of the statue.  The only person that knows what the last part is, is the guy who made it for them, but he hasn't even told the CIA what it is, haha.

It is pretty cool stuff though, there are computer programs out there to decode and encode messages too, or you can convert letters to binary... I used to do that for the hell of it and see if anyone would take the time to figure it out... no one ever did... (therefore, I am a loser, but I can live with that fact)

 
Forgot your password?
Username :
Password :

Shout box

You're not permitted to post shouts.
Papa MidnightSpeculation from PC Gamer. Don't hold your breath. http://www.pcgamer.com/2014/07/21/microsoft-job-listing-says-nice-things-about-pc-gaming-isnt-clear-if-it-means-them/07/21/2014 - 5:58pm
MaskedPixelanteI dunno, it's probably Vevo powertripping.07/21/2014 - 5:52pm
Andrew EisenMP - Makes you wonder what the intention behind the removal was. Stop the RickRolls? Yeah, like removing that one video is going to make a difference.07/21/2014 - 3:27pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.billboard.com/articles/business/digital-and-mobile/6165313/youtube-blocks-original-rickroll-video Moment of silence, the original Rickroll video has been blocked in many regions.07/20/2014 - 3:53pm
PHX CorpUseless DLC news: Killzone Fart Pack http://ps4daily.com/2014/07/killzone-fart-dlc/07/20/2014 - 12:56pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uU1mK2ig_GU They did their research beforehand.07/19/2014 - 4:41pm
Sleaker@james_fudge - are you sure the FCC can pick and choose? the general rules I read as passed in the act don't really indicate that, but I didn't read through the entirety.07/19/2014 - 4:19pm
MaskedPixelanteOf course, Saban's entire point hinges on them not knowing what the tokusatsu genre is.07/19/2014 - 1:57pm
lomdrLink to where you saw this, Sora-chan?07/19/2014 - 1:50pm
MaskedPixelanteThis is just... confusing to me... They're not being sued, but it looks like extortion, but maybe now the devs can make demands of Saban? I dunno...07/19/2014 - 1:47pm
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/18/chroma-squad-dev-agrees-to-royalty-split-ultimatum-from-power-ra/07/19/2014 - 1:43pm
Sora-ChanSo apparently, Towns is updating again. Not sure what that means, since last we heard it got abandoned.07/19/2014 - 5:42am
Matthew Wilsonthe 10c is based of the fact that it only cost them 2c a gig to send data around to start with, and that does include infrastructure07/18/2014 - 5:24pm
Matthew Wilsonhere is the thing the average user does not use enough bandwidth to justify usage based billing at most they would be allowed to charge 10c a gig. the avrage user would need to use around 600 gigs a piece.07/18/2014 - 5:23pm
james_fudgeThe FCC can apply what rules it sees fit and ignore rules that make no sense under Title II.07/18/2014 - 4:57pm
Sleaker@MW - ahhh thanks for the info. I still don't see how Title II or reclassifying would benefit industry or do what people are asking the FCC to do.07/18/2014 - 2:43pm
Matthew Wilsonif they do, they would than be subject to the utility commission for price approval. the short answer is no because it would bring even more regulations.07/18/2014 - 1:50pm
SleakerIf Internet gets rebranded as a Title II do you think cable companies will start charging per-usage similar to every other utility?07/18/2014 - 12:57pm
MaskedPixelanteI guess 'recommiting to classic style JRPGs like the upcoming Bravely Second' is coming later, now is the time for microtransactions at a level that would make EA say "guys, take it easy on the paywall".07/18/2014 - 10:39am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/07/17/final-fantasy-record-keeper-relives-the-series-battles-for-mobi/ Square is really, really, REALLY hoping you all forgot that Final Fantasy: All The Bravest was a thing...07/18/2014 - 10:36am
 

Be Heard - Contact Your Politician