Pentagon Researcher Details Hypothetical WoW-hatched Terror Plot

By Nick Breckon, Sep 15, 2008 8:20pm PDT A researcher working for the Pentagon last week presented to members of the US intelligence community a hypothetical scenario that would see foreign militants using World of Warcraft to evade spy agencies in the planning of a terrorist plot.

Dr. Dwight Tovas of the National Defense University presented slides featuring WoW maps and chat logs to illustrate how a group of terrorists might use the global, unmonitored MMO to communicate in secret.

Says Wired of the scenario:
In it, 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.

A February report from the Director of National Intelligence notes that the US intelligence community is already looking to perfect software that would automatically detect suspicious behavior within virtual worlds such as World of Warcraft.

But some are skeptical of whether the policing of MMO games is a high priority for national security.

"Could terrorists use Second Life? Sure, they can use anything," said intelligence analyst Steven Aftergood. "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."

Click here to comment...

advertisement