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U.S. Government Hires Company To Hack Into Video Game Consoles 121

An anonymous reader writes "The U.S. Navy is paying a company six figures to hack into used video game consoles and extract sensitive information. The tasks to be completed are for both offline and online data. The organization says it will only use the technology on consoles belonging to nations overseas, because the law doesn't allow it to be used on any 'U.S. persons.'" Should be a doddle.
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U.S. Government Hires Company To Hack Into Video Game Consoles

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Does the US Navy really want to spend it's time finding out what sort of porn slashdotters were storing on their consoles, etc. They've got more important things to do, like protecting us while we watch our porn. And so we have the RIGHT to watch it.
    • by khasim ( 1285 ) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:05PM (#39612725)

      What could THE NAVY possibly get from used game consoles?

      And why go that route to get it?

      • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:16PM (#39612777)

        I am sure they are looking for a fighter like they do here [wikipedia.org]

      • by gstrickler ( 920733 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:17PM (#39612793)

        Sorry for the delay, but military bureaucracy means it takes a while to get all the forms approved before posting AF jokes.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        In-game chat used to co-ordinate freedom-fighter manouvres?

        • by Sir_Sri ( 199544 )

          That's the sort of thing that poses a serious problem, since those voice chat services aren't necessarily as easy to eavesdrop on as say... anything on AT&T. Lots of terrorists are relatively young men, including for example the french guy who just drove around murdering people, presumably a number of the wealthier of that lot have game consoles.

          Another option is just general data harvesting on potential spy, or turnable asset. You want to know who they talk to, maybe inject yourself into their friend

          • by Anonymous Coward
            I have to disagree. If they had the disposable income level to own a game console and internet connection they wouldn't have so much time to be disaffected terrorists. Maybe the crazy leader type ones would, but most of the people those leaders use as their cannon fodder would never end up in terrorist training if they could afford luxuries like game consoles.
            • Osama bin Laden was the son of a billionaire and a millionaire in his own right.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        Certain countries like Iran have been buying PS3s to use for thee computational power. Maybe this has something to do with that?

      • You shouldn't think of Naval Intelligence being only devoted to things involving ships and the sea. They are an intelligence service first. In fact, it was Navy research that led to the Tor network [onion-router.net].
  • Woder what they are looking for.. Mostly wonder what can be found thats not already on facebook.
    • by Smallpond ( 221300 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:04PM (#39612723) Homepage Journal

      Woder what they are looking for.. Mostly wonder what can be found thats not already on facebook.

      They're looking for clues to beat the Ironman Challenge in WoW.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:48AM (#39612641)

    They're looking for the high scores of Taliban insurgents or what?

    • by AngryDeuce ( 2205124 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @11:55AM (#39612673)

      Yeah that's what I'm wondering. What useful information could be gleaned from a game console? Do they think that the terrorists are using Xbox Live and PSN to communicate now or what? How would that be any more beneficial than the plethora of pre-paid cell phones out there that cost next to nothing and can be tossed regularly?

      • Maybe terrorists like to relax with their buddies with a game every now and then? They're people too, and I wouldn't be surprised if some aren't all that security conscious. Contact networks of such people would be useful, but I would have thought the DoD could get such data from MS/Sony with a warrant/subpoena. Hard to know what could be useful on the console itself.

      • by Leuf ( 918654 )
        It would give them an excuse to start prying into the lives of anyone they associated with through gaming. Actually finding anyone who is a real threat is a secondary concern to having more people to have to look into and more ways to look into them so they can get more money and influence.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        Yeah that's what I'm wondering. What useful information could be gleaned from a game console? Do they think that the terrorists are using Xbox Live and PSN to communicate now or what?

        It's been reported that that's exactly what's going on [thesun.co.uk].

        • Never believe anything reported in The Scum.
          • I'm inclined to agree... but it seems plausible. Internet cafes overseas feature many of these games and it seems like a good alternative communication method.
        • Yeah, that article reeks of FUD. I can't imagine a terrorist would sit here and fuck around with an Xbox or PS3 when they can spend $10 American and get a piece of shit prepaid dumbphone to communicate with their terrorist friends.

          I think stupid people just see terrorists around every corner. They're the "commies" of the 21st century; convenient bogeymen to sell more papers and drive more hits to your ads.

      • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 )

        Here's an example that is admittedly a bit of a stretch.

        The military busts up a terrorist cell and finds a PS3. Turns out the PS3 was owned by a highly-wanted terrorist previously as evidenced by credit card/bank info still in the console (if it exists as such). They now have a definitive link from that cell to another person of interest.

        I dunno, it's either something like that, or maybe they just want to look on the friends list?

        "Oh yeah, look at this friends list. It's like a who's who of the scum of the

    • by Elbereth ( 58257 )

      A lot of people are asking, "What's the point? Why are they wasting their time doing this?" It makes me think that many people, if they saw a smartphone, a PC, and a game console, would take the PC and smartphone and perform data forensics on them, while leaving the game console behind. If that's the case, then it would certainly make sense to use the game console for one's crimes, essentially leaving the PC and smartphone as honeypots.

      In reality, I'm sure that the military and intelligence agencies are

  • and that includes the data on it.

    Besides, I wonder how they'll get the data if the thing isn't networked, eh?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some of the information provided in the article:

    “This project involves furnishing video game systems, both new and used, and creating prototype rigs for capturing data from the video game systems.”
    -- U.S. Navy listing

    "“R & D effort for the development and delivery of computer forensic tools for analyzing network traffic and stored data created during the use of video game systems.”
    -- Federal Business Opportunites website

    Some links from the article:
    Statement of Work [DOC] [navy.mil]
    Contracti [navy.mil]

  • As someone living 'overseas' I am not exactly relieved to hear that.

    On the other hand I don't own a gaming console.
    But why do get the strong feeling they meant to say 'after PCs now consoles too'? Am I reading too much between the lines here?

    • But why do get the strong feeling they meant to say 'after PCs now consoles too'? Am I reading too much between the lines here?

      Quite the opposite: you're reading too little.

      They're interested in game consoles because they already have the capability to hack into PCs, just like every other script kiddie on this planet.

    • If it makes you feel better, the line about it being applicable only to foreign nationals overseas is a line of BS to placate the public. Beyond the shadow of a doubt, this will be used on all consoles, regardless of whether the owner is a US citizen or not.
  • by cellocgw ( 617879 ) <cellocgw@gmPASCALail.com minus language> on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:08PM (#39612741) Journal

    Not that I support the Navy (?? what? why Navy?) doing this stuff, or paying so much, but there is possible precedent. It's been pretty clear for a long time that anything you throw out in the trash is no longer your possession. So, before you toss that old game console, take a hammer to the memory bits.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      Why? What do you have to hide? You MUST be guilty.

    • Depending on where you live, the ownership of trash can be quite complicated. There's at least one case of a city in the US prosecuting someone for theft after they took some discarded equipment (I think it was an aircon unit) from the trash. Not theft from the former own, but theft from the city: They saw that trash as recycling scrap-metal value, and didn't take kindly to someone else stealing what they regarded as city property.

      I can't remember enough details to find any links supporting it though, so y
    • anything you throw out in the trash is no longer your possession.

      Hah, as if those things "were" your property in the first place, considering all the DRM installed.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      practically, sony and ms would both kick you out for having a hacked(modded) console.

      it's just money thrown out of the window - or inside the window of this r&d company.

      and for what? those few consoles that have eyetoys and kinects attached?

  • Uh, yeah... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Higgins_Boson ( 2569429 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:17PM (#39612791)

    because the law doesn't allow it to be used on any 'U.S. persons.'

    As if that ever stopped them before. **rolls eyes**

    • Alternatively, I'm wondering if this violates the anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA.

      Even if this hacking would otherwise be legal, the anti-circumvention clause does not allow for such a defense.

  • More government spending, more invasion of privacy, more unauthorised behaviour, more deficit and debt, more government jobs (paid for with debt of-course), more government contracts, more money printing - inflation.

    Less real economic activity, less freedoms, less real value in money.

    Only one good thing hopefully will come out of this: fewer people supporting government actions, less desire to have this type of government, getting closer to the point when this becomes completely unbearable (of-course this w

    • The REAL drain on the system is GOVERNMENT.

      Are you referring to the current US government, or are you one of those people who think "all governments are evil, therefore we should get rid of the idea of government" and we should change to some variation of Anarchy (Anarcho-capitalism, Anarcho-syndicalism, etc)?

      • Are you implying that some form of government is immune to corruption?

        • no, but that doesn't mean you give up on the idea of government entirely, If you don't have a government-based system, you will end up with a corporate-based system. At least the government PRETENDS to be beholden to the voters, corporations don't even pretend, they are already quite used to telling their customers what to buy, how to dress, and how to think. There isn't even a FRAMEWORK for enforcing corporate responsibility, at least with politicians you can recall them and have a new election.

          What do you

    • This is my concern.... GEOHOT was criminalized and attacked using government resources based on his so-called violations of EULAs.... And now government directed entities do similar things but are not comparably criminalized....

      No. Getting sick of the corporations.gov concept here... the abuse of citizens is so blatant and the preference fr corporations is absurd.

    • I used to be quite sure you believed in what you said. Then I started to doubt it as your posts became more and more trollish. Now I'm almost certain you are just trolling to make the extreme right look silly. It is amusing to watch you do that and yet still repeatedly get moderated very highly for spouting off self-contradictory nonsense.

      Let's take a look at some examples you just provided:

      more invasion of privacy,

      This makes no sense in relation to the article. The summary plainly states that the Navy is purchasing used c

  • With today's consoles being walled-garden cryptographic playgrounds, I am hard pressed to think of any useful exploit tools that wouldn't run a substantial risk of qualifying as 'circumvention devices' for DMCA purposes...

    It makes me wonder if the law(s) that probably do make almost any sort of spying legal also enable otherwise illegal tools, or whether the MPAA just isn't going to be suing the Navy as a pragmatic matter?
  • Finding a console that will yield useful sensitive information is why it's worth 6 figures.
  • If you need a warrant for citizens, you also need a warrant for non-citizens, no matter where they are. The jurisdiction of the constitution constrains American government employees no matter where they are in the Universe.

  • maybe we should scale their budget back, since they have 6 figures and all that manpower to waste all while running a TV ad ever fucking hour, slash it to 25% and give them a real challenge

    cock minded morons

  • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Sunday April 08, 2012 @12:57PM (#39613013)

    Microsoft says Xbox hacking claims are ‘unlikely’. [bgr.com]

    "A report emerged last week from a security researcher claiming Microsoft’s Xbox lacked important security features that might protect owners who sell used consoles from having personal information stolen. Ashley Podhradsky of Drexel University claimed to have purchased a used Xbox console and used readily available hacking tools to recover the prior owner’s credit card number and other personal information. “Microsoft does a great job of protecting their proprietary information, but they don’t do a great job of protecting the user’s data,” Podhradsky said at the time.

    Microsoft has since responded to the researcher’s claims, stating that they are likely inaccurate."

  • "the law doesn't allow it to be used on any 'U.S. persons.'"

    Well that's a load off my mind. It's nice to know all we US persons have to worry about is being flagged as a terrorist and executed with no due process in a drone strike, but at least they won't hack our game consoles.

  • they will then spy on americans.

    hey, its the free market!

  • I always find it an odd amusement, us US'ers being so hell-bent on interfering with everyone's business--but our laws say you can't do it to us. Then we complain when some guy we don't like in a country we don't like does the same, as if our displeasure at being treated the way we treat others is acceptable.

    Then again, like hell they aren't going to do it to us Yanks if they can find loopholes.

  • why not just get MS, sony, and Nintendo to do it? they can use there own code and make it easier and maybe even hide it better.

  • but doing it on consoles of other countries, it means it's actually an act of war (IMHO) as it's not something that is allowed by INTERNATIONAL Law.. but oh wait, the US doesn't give a rat's ass about international law unless it is in their favor.. So now if the US does it to our consoles, we are allowed to do it to their consoles...
    • Espionage is something that international law will never allow and that every country does, has always done and will always do.

      If you're thinking "Oh, those nasty Americans" you are incredibly naive. The Chinese, Israelis, British, Russians and everybody else who thinks they might be able to get your information are already in there, or trying like hell to make it so.

      That is, if they happen to think that you know anything worth stealing. For most people, this means that they're not being watched, because

  • Hacking the USAF playstation cluster?

  • Wouldn't it be great for the big brother to access all the x-box cameras?

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