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)

 
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Matthew WilsonTrust me i read the same sites.I have a Master's in Applied Politics. I get to see through the spin both Left and Right that tend to be put on news stories.09/30/2014 - 1:02am
WymorenceI also have an extremely hard time in listening to people who froth at the mouth when the POTUS does something almost identical to the previous POTUS, but for some reason is subhuman for it this time around09/30/2014 - 12:43am
WymorenceThe problem is that opposing views are a good thing, but sites like Brietbart and their ilk are the exact opposite. 9/10 times they tweak the news to benefit their own views instead of just giving their own side of it.09/30/2014 - 12:41am
james_fudgeIf I were in a cult I might try and shut myself away from opposing views...09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
james_fudgeoh and Nate Silver and Politico too.09/29/2014 - 11:48pm
james_fudgeI read a lot of sites every day, Drudge, Breitbart, Huffpo, DailKOS, Red State, Fox, MSNBC, CNN and i'm not infected. Time for people to get thicker skins.09/29/2014 - 11:46pm
james_fudgeNeo_DrKefka: you do know you visited "one of those sites" when you posted that article, right?09/29/2014 - 11:44pm
E. Zachary KnightOcarina of Time done up in the Link to the Past engine? You know I would buy this day one if it were official. http://kotaku.com/fans-are-remaking-ocarina-of-time-in-2d-164059481909/29/2014 - 11:14pm
MaskedPixelantehttps://twitter.com/raymond03155046/status/516735796754522113 "We're fundraising for the group who helped our pets out in their time of need." "lol ur just doing this for the money get over your cat."09/29/2014 - 9:26pm
MechaTama31https://www.humblebundle.com/store/p/dontmove_storefront <-- This looks like it might be the most incredible dollar I'll ever spend.09/29/2014 - 9:12pm
Matthew WilsonI agree. the same for MSNBC as well. both of them can go away, but like it or not its a free market and fox news make allot of money sadly.09/29/2014 - 7:46pm
quiknkoldI'm an independent voter. Vote Blue and Red. so I dont really visit any specific news sites(Though I know FoxNews can take a flying leap off a bridge)09/29/2014 - 7:02pm
quiknkoldFactcheck.org. there you go. neither left or right. straight down the center.09/29/2014 - 7:01pm
Craig R.When a website's tinfoil isn't enough, add your own!09/29/2014 - 6:32pm
Andrew EisenWe used to have a reader who constantly posted DailyKOS articles in the Shout box. I was amazed, not so much by the amazing and horrifically disingenuous spin the site put on these articles, but that our reader would add his own spin on top of it!09/29/2014 - 6:05pm
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quiknkoldproblem with Breibart is, despite I totally agreeing with Nero's articles.....its freaking Breibart. Its not the best place int he world when it comes to trust. if DailyKos or think progress reported it....well...things would be better. but here we are.09/29/2014 - 6:00pm
Neo_DrKefkaAt this point I need to stop visiting certain sites. At least now I have a list of people and where they work where I need to avoid http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-London/2014/09/21/GameJournoPros-we-reveal-every-journalist-on-the-list09/29/2014 - 5:56pm
E. Zachary KnightNeo, Where in any published accounts of the games journo pro mailing list do they call anyone "misogynists, racist, sexist and that we are horrible people"?09/29/2014 - 5:47pm
quiknkoldmy take is, try to write a nice long piece on it, post it somewhere, and then link it. something well written, siting sources.09/29/2014 - 5:42pm
 

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