Dept of Homeland Security is hacking into Xbox, game consoles
The Department of Homeland Security is working on ways to hack into the Xbox, as well as other game consoles, to obtain whatever personal information they can from the devices. DHS plans to target overseas consoles to avoid Privacy Act issues related to US citizens.
DHS is getting interested in game consoles because they see those devices as evolving into more of a personal computer than simply a toy. Originally this project called the “Gaming Systems Monitoring and Analysis Project,” began in 2008 as a possible way to go after pedophiles who were using the consoles to target children. That project has evolved to include terrorists in the groups of people who could potentially be targeted.
A San Francisco company called Obscure Technologies is at the front of this project. The small San Francisco company responsible for computer forensics has been granted a $177,237 contract to develop “hardware and software tools that can be used for extracting data from video game systems.” The contract was awarded by the US Navy.
In the wake of privacy concerns revolving around hacking game consoles, the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) has decided to get involved in this issue. Parker Higgins, a spokesman for the online privacy group talked about the potential information stored on the console saying,
“These consoles are being used as general purpose computers. And they’re used for all kinds of communications. The Xbox has a very active online community where people communicate. It stands to reason that you could get sensitive and private information stored on the console.”
Higgins adds that all of the information stored on your Xbox like who you played games with, who you were chatting with, message logs, and other online activity could reveal a great deal. “Taken in context, it could end up revealing more than you expect,” Higgins warns.
There is an obvious issue with privacy and this type of work. The DHS is very aware of those issues. “This project requires the purchasing of used video game systems outside the U.S. in a manner that is likely to result in their containing significant and sensitive information from previous users,” states the contract. Simson Garfinkel, a computer science professor at the Navel Postgraduate School (NPS) adds,
“We do not wish to work with data regarding U.S. persons due to Privacy Act considerations. If we find data on U.S. citizens in consoles purchased overseas, we remove the data from our corpus.”
Another issue with this project is whether or not manufacturers will cooperate with these efforts. None of the three gaming hardware manufacturers made any comments to the Foreign Policy website regarding the issue, but the EFF’s Higgins spoke a bit about these companies.
“I’ve spoken with privacy people at Microsoft, and they’re aware that it’s something that can be personal and sensitive. If you don’t use Xbox, you might think it’s just a frivolous video game. But a lot of real communication happens between people in this form. Just because it’s a form associated with games doesn’t mean it deserves less privacy protection.”
Regardless of how people feel about this project and the related privacy issues, it is moving forward. If DHS finds some way to expand this to U.S. consoles then the gaming space won’t be safe from monitoring for anyone anymore.
6 Comments on Dept of Homeland Security is hacking into Xbox, game consoles
- Mr. Belvedere
- Posts: 18833
- Posted on: 06 Apr 12 00:29
|But a lot of real communication happens between people in this form|
sheesh DHS .. thinking the terrorists will somehow communicate via Xbox Live or use Kinect to train new members?
- Posts: 269
- Posted on: 06 Apr 12 13:40
- Mr. Belvedere
- Posts: 18833
- Posted on: 06 Apr 12 16:26
Did you or did you not supply the Konami Code to foreign countries!?!?
Do you want us to waterboard you or will you confess!? Do you have any idea what the impact of the Konami Code has on civilizations?
Don't you care about the children?!?? Well.. DO YOU!?!?!?"
- Posts: 13328
- Posted on: 22 Apr 12 13:11
- Posts: 5
- Posted on: 24 Aug 12 00:27
- Posts: 1299
- Posted on: 24 Aug 12 07:01
And it's about time, too.
Boy, do you realize how dangerous XBox's are? When you load them up with fuel for coast-to-coast flights, and then plunge them into all of our skyscrapers?!!
We are now SOOO much safer! Yessirree. This is clearly wisely-spent gov't money. Uh huh.
I bet those Blackwater contractors are getting millions for these contracts, too.
Most popular headlines
- Tue 16 Apr 16:12 by DoMiN8ToR
- Software, Windows 8
The upcoming update of Windows 8 might allow users to boot to the desktop again.
- Fri 12 Apr 15:10 by DoMiN8ToR
The number of jobs in the film and music industry in the United States has increased despite the claimed negative effects of illegal downloads.
- Tue 9 Apr 14:23 by DoMiN8ToR
The PirateBay has moved to the domain thepiratebay.gl in fear that their previous domain would be ceased by Swedish authorities
- Wed 17 Apr 13:57 by DoMiN8ToR
- Solid State (ssd)
A Chinese tech site has posted a picture that reveals details on Intel's 9 series chipset.