Terror Lurking in the Cloud

The title of this post likely conjures up disturbing memories of 9/11.  And it should.  A newly released book presents the disturbing possibility that online gaming and virtual world communications have provided terrorists with an ideal medium to communicate and plan deadly assault scenarios, all of which is flying under the radar of the CIA and NSA.

Dutchman Emile van Veen spent two years researching how terrorists could utilize so called Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs). These online games appear to be an unbreakable code for intelligence agencies and offer communication channels like email, chat and voice chat. They are violent by nature, making it virtually impossible to detect dangerous conversations. They can be accessed from any computer, anywhere, by using anonymous accounts.

Recently the danger of terrorists using computer games as a secure communication channel led to alarming news articles by major newspapers in Europe, following the release of Van Veen’s technothriller “MMORPG: How a computer game becomes deadly serious.”

Van Veen’s story is set in both the real and the virtual world, a novel concept in itself. The author said, “Especially reproductions of our real world are dangerous. Someone who wants to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge could examine the target in detail and scout his way in and out as well.”  He thinks the real-life danger is imminent.

The CIA tentatively acknowledged this threat in its 2008 Data Mining Report and started the Reynard Project as a “seedling effort” to detect suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world. Although online gaming has exploded and hundreds of millions of people participate in these games, not much has been heard about the Reynard Project since.

The book MMORPG: How a computer game becomes deadly serious [ISBN 9781456318086] by Emile van Veen is available through most retail channels in both paperback and eBook.

Admittedly, this isn’t the type of information I normally post on my blog.  But after yesterday’s post I figured most of my readers would be fretting about how far behind they might be in technology, and how it might hamper their ability to compete.  So now, to put things into proper perspective, I’m giving you something bigger to worry about!


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