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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MattsworknameSo far, Win 8 gave me nothing but problems08/04/2015 - 11:18pm
MattsworknameI;ll see what I can come up with tomarow08/04/2015 - 11:16pm
ZippyDSMleethose is the issue.08/04/2015 - 10:47pm
ZippyDSMleeOdd, even with admin? I have UAC turned off so I do not have to fuss with it too much, also in order to run FO3/NV you need DX,VC++ 010, mmm might try and download VC++ distro pack both 32 and 64bit from 8 to 2012 or so and isntall them see if one of thos08/04/2015 - 10:46pm
MattsworknameTried that 2 zippy, it still wouldn't work08/04/2015 - 10:43pm
ZippyDSMleeI have had to run NV in compatibility mode before. I have both FO3 and NV running fine with a bunch of mods on win8.108/04/2015 - 10:24pm
MattsworknameI did the direct x 9 fix, issue remains08/04/2015 - 10:13pm
MattsworknameI've had issues with it since the start really, as soon as I tried to run it on Win 8.1, vegas woudl crash as soon as i launched it, even when using the base game08/04/2015 - 10:12pm
MattsworknameManta: I run into issues the moment I try to use any mods. and some times even no mods08/04/2015 - 10:09pm
MattsworknameChris ray gun on the gawker media scandel from a few weeks back https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apGv0KTV9IM08/04/2015 - 10:08pm
black mantaFunny, Matt. I've been able to run it from Steam no problem.08/04/2015 - 10:02pm
Big PermDo you need Directx 9.0c still? Should be a manual download for win 7/808/04/2015 - 9:55pm
MattsworknameBlack manta; I've been trying to get vegas and 3 to work on windows 8 for months and no method I tries fixed it manta08/04/2015 - 9:53pm
Big PermOh wow, yeah cleared my entire history and now suggestions are subs instead08/04/2015 - 9:15pm
Big PermI think you can mecha. Unless it's just removing it from your UI and still tracking it behind the scenes08/04/2015 - 9:11pm
MechaTama31It would be nice if Youtube just let you delete a video from your history, like Netflix does.08/04/2015 - 9:09pm
black mantaF3 and NV have long been since fixed. They run great on Windows 8 and 8.1. And there's also the Unofficial Patch for F3 and the Mission Mojave patch for NV in case they don't.08/04/2015 - 9:05pm
MattsworknameYeah Big, but for those who had the game for long times, it is to late for that08/04/2015 - 8:43pm
Big PermNow that steam refunds are a thing, I'd hope they care more about not releasing a buggy mess.08/04/2015 - 8:34pm
MattsworknameI really think someone should get on bethesda abotu this and find out if there gonna fix it for the anthology, and if those fixs will be provide to those who already own the software on steam08/04/2015 - 8:24pm
 

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