The Stack Archive

PS4 network an unlikely terrorist tool, security experts say

Mon 11 Jan 2016

A group of security researchers have looked into recent controversial claims that the communications facilitated by games consoles such as the Sony PS4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One are being used by terrorists because of their strong encryption capabilities, concluding that the notion is nonsense. Additionally the researchers investigated the practicality of terrorists spraying evanescent messages to each other with bullets in Call of Duty and found it to be an extraordinarily unlikely and unwieldy method of communication.

The researchers, from Duo Labs, posted a video (embedded below) in which they discuss their own tests sending voice and text messages via PSN, and note that the transmissions are protected by nothing more than TLS encryption, now considered to be perfectly capable of compromise by any well-resourced government capable of obtaining encryption keys either by subterfuge or legal edict.

They Duo Labs guys go on to examine the practicality of zero knowledge messaging via virtual gunfire in the Call Of Duty franchise, establishing not only that even the most expert marksman would have tremendous difficulty in creating one distinguishable letter with CoD firearms, but that the chances of running out of ammo before creating a meaningful missive are pretty much 100%.

Following the Paris attacks Belgian federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon contended that the PS4 is used by ISIS agents as a communications network tool, opining that PSN “is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp”.

The Duo Labs researchers disagree, stating outright that Whatsapp’s end-to-end encryption is likely to present a significantly harder challenge to government entities looking to listen in on potential terrorist communications.

However, even if Call Of Duty is a frustrating tool for terrorist scribes, commenters have noted that some of the obstructions, such as ammo limitation and the recoil that makes wall-writing with bullets problematic, can be overcome with game mods – though it’s not entirely clear how effective these would be on rigidly-controlled games networks which are traditionally harder to ‘customise’ than PC-based participation in online gaming.


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