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back to article To fel with you! There's an NSA spook in my World of Warcraft

The NSA placed spies in the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft in a bid to tackle info-swapping terrorists, it has emerged. According to the latest leaked document published by The Guardian, spooks were stationed in the virtual world of Azeroth and told to “hide in plain sight". The NSA briefing …

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Pirate

What? No Everquest 2 or Planetside 2 Spying?

It's a sad day for Sony I guess, when the spooks don't think there are enough users in these now free-to-play games to make it worth spying on them.

On the bright side, hackers still think it is worthwhile to hack into the Sony servers to steal usernames and passwords.

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Bronze badge

Re: What? No Everquest 2 or Planetside 2 Spying?

Not just the spooks. Any press release at all that mentions MMOs don't think anybody will know what they're on about if they mentioned PS2 or EQ2 because Sony never saw fit to advertise them properly (nobody has a clue what I'm on about when I tell them how I spend my spare time) so they say "WoW" as people have at least seen adverts on telly for it.

I've seen trolls (not the playable race kind) on EQ2 pretend they're the Feds but that's about it.

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Re: What? No Everquest 2 or Planetside 2 Spying?

Darn, I saw a suspicious guy on Guild Wars 2 last night, he was green and he had fire pooping from his butt. I could bet he was a terrorist :d

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What? No Everquest 2 or Planetside 2 Spying?

All the proper dodgy folk are in the port side playing wizardry.

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Joke

Re: What? No Everquest 2 or Planetside 2 Spying?

"he was green and he had fire pooping from his butt. I could bet he was a terrorist"

Or he had a curry and 5 beers...

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Bronze badge

They wouldn't have picked up ....

..... anything useful on the Trade channel ..... its like 4chan with graphics.

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Joke

Re: They wouldn't have picked up ....

Lowest prices for gold! 1000g for $12...

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Silver badge

Re: They wouldn't have picked up ....

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

/w Bottle_cap I can have 1g plz?

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jai
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Wasn't there a NCIS episode about exactly this?

Sometimes fact is stranger, or at least, exactly the same, as fiction...

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jai
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a cunning plan

Was this not just someone's bright idea of getting paid to play games while at work? It's awesome - you can probably spend all weekend gringing to level up AND put in a claim for overtime as well!! Where do i sign up to join?

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Re: a cunning plan

If there are any job openings, I'll sign up...

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Silver badge

Re: a cunning plan

I love the idea that some spook somewhere has convinced their superiors that they need the Mists of Pandaria expansion to better spy on the Chinese.

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Devil

Re: a cunning plan

Its not all fun and games, what with polite requests to twink your boss' spoiled 12 year old son, and having to explain to the hot redhead in counterintelligence that yes, you spend all your time playing WoW, but you're doing it for the red, white and blue....

Then again, maybe you can play the sympathy angle with the redhead-"We wiped so many times on Lich King. (Sniffle)...so many good men gone! (sob)...it really changes your perspective on what's important in life...."

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Re: a cunning plan

Why the hell would they be playing? I'd imagine that they'd just patch into the chat servers and create fake names on the channel like tech support / admins would do.

Of course this assumes that Blizzard actually designed the server architecture logically...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: a cunning plan

They'd probably of been noticed if they did that (by blizzard at least) also it did say hide in plain sight which would imply as players.

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Rob
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Nice job...

... if you can get it, being paid by the government to play online games, they even have their subs paid for them!

I bet the 'de-confliction' team is really there to sort out disputes between NSA guilds rather than who is spying on who.

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Silver badge

Re: Nice job...

Here I was thinking the 'de-confliction' teams was to make it easier to spy on NSA players. You never know if one of them is a double agent and conveniently using WoW to transfer information to their handler. Then again it could be to prevent anyone spying on the latest talks between Obama and Kim Jong Un.

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Devil

Re: Nice job...

"... I was thinking the 'de-confliction' teams was to make it easier to spy on NSA players. You never know if one of them is a double agent..."

That way lies madness! ;0)

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JR
Big Brother

Re: Nice job...

Reminds me of a line from Monty Python & the Holy Grail...

Guard (agent): Oh, yes of course. I thought you meant him! (to other Guard/agent) You know it seemed a bit daft me having to guard him when he's a guard.

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Holmes

The world is now a Philip K. Dick novel

Only with more boredom, inanity and death.

Must be nice to have a paid job hanging around in WoW looking for terrists. Any info on the mean age of WOW SPY GROUP?

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Were they all playing Rogues?

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404
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yep - I still think it takes a special kind of person to play a rogue effectively... sneaky bastiches. Would totally fit the persona.

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Mushroom

Here's the plan

1) Massive campaign to get all fanatics addicted to WoW - distribute copies of the game as "Blowing shit up for dummies"

2) Lots of spooks follow them in - in accordance with CPGB rules from the 60's I think it has to be 20 spooks per nutjob.

3) Open global pizza delivery and adult nappy changing service

4) Triple whammy - Profit, peace and freedom from oppression!!!!

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Playing Games

Is spooks the right description? Kids playing games and getting paid to do it.

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Silver badge

Hardly surprising

WoW and other MMOs could facilitate two physically disconnected people holding a conversation about something illegal. So it's not hard to see why the NSA would want to monitor it.

That said, anyone using such a high profile, fat client MMO run by a US company such as WoW is not doing it right. I bet there are dozens of free to play MMOs, many which launch from a web browser which would be far a better choice. Or IRC. Or some random forum. Or some random comment section (e.g. here) would be a better way to exchange messages.

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Re: Hardly surprising

Yeah, everyone knows all the kiddy fiddlers play Tera

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hardly surprising

The yellow duck is unDer the ivy tea leaves.

Anonymous, but they said to say, "you would know me by my hat".

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Trollface

Re: Hardly surprising

"Or some random comment section (e.g. here) would be a better way to exchange messages"

Given how much sense "aManFromMars" tends to make in his average posts, I'm guessing its already happening.

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Re: Hardly surprising

Listen very carefully, I will say this only once..............

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Anonymous Coward

I heard that ...

everyone on 4chan is a NSA employee ... what's next, infiltrating match.com and the Daily Mail ... have these people no shame?

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Hear that? that's the sound of every IT security bod in the known worlds drafting up a "security" business proposal to bring their gaming rig into the office.

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Can you imagine what the normal chat to criminal/terrorist ratio must be? Are they going to spy on every server? Every instance group? Impossible! What about all the other games? Private, passworded servers on COD for example?

I think time and money might be better spent elsewhere.

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Silver badge

They are going to go flat out to recruit patriotic volunteers.

"Are you involved in criminal/terrorist activities?" - "No Sir!" - "OK, you are now an NSA deputy. Stay in touch"

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Facepalm

Re: Duffy Moon

".....Are they going to spy on every server? Every instance group? Impossible!....." You haven't been following how the NSA/GCHQ chaps work, have you? I bet there is either a back door built into WoW or their chat servers have been hacked to allow automated surveillance, so no need to have an actual warm body listening in to every conversation. I suspect the warm bods then get given target lists of guilds or individual players to get chummie with off the back of automated eavesdropping. For example, players joining European or US WoW servers from Pakistan probably go top of the list......

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"Hey guv, its scary. We need to close down WoW urgently. Its a hotbed of therroristht activthy. EVERYONE talks abbout 'nuking the boss' continually!!!"

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Getting paid, plus a government pension, to play WoW (or whatever). What kind of metrics do they use? "I finally got that super rare shoulder drop in XYZ raid... Oh, and I reported a gold seller/terrorist."

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Anonymous Coward

I'm guessing you're not from the UK. A government pension might once have been better than the private sector but not these days, we're having to pay for all the long retired employees who are on "Gold-Plated" pensions.....

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Anonymous Coward

As someone who took a job that lets me accrue a civil service pension nearly 2 years ago, I can tell you they're fairly generous. The accrual rate is 1/43, although it is career average instead of final salary. I'm paying about 6% of my pay into it, and the actual value of the pension (the amount I'd have to put into a private pension to get the same benefits) is about 25% of my pay - so I'm not complaining!

Other areas of government may be less generous...

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Anonymous Coward

Sorry to say...

... some of us are still entitled to the Final Salary pension (Gold Plated) because of the date when we signed up to it (for now that is).

It's the only thing that's worthwhile in this job, sorry for not having more regret about it.

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Bronze badge

What about Puffin Party?

I thought all terror buddies used it, it was in that documentry, 4 Lions...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWyU7RWy0Mk

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Silver badge

Bah!

You want to see a prime example of a digital drop box (in the espionage sense) you need look no further than Amazon.

How else to explain stuff like this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0596100299/sr=8-1/qid=1386609099/ref=olp_page_5?ie=UTF8&colid=&coliid=&condition=new&me=&qid=1386609099&shipPromoFilter=0&sort=sip&sr=8-1&startIndex=40

or this:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/0844237639/ref=tmm_pap_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&sr=&qid=

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Gav

Re: Bah!

People trying/testing things without a test system to do it on?

Just create a obviously fake listing on some obscure publication that no-one is going to take you up on.

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Joke

Re: Bah!

"I speak Esperanto like a native" (Spike Milligan).

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By Grabthar's hammer!

That's one hell of a headline! :)

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Happy

The NSA spies also infiltrated EVE Online. But they all left several days later, crying...

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.... That's after their 14 day trial expired

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Wait, GoonSwarm aren't an NSA front?

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MMORPGs may not need spooks...

...but they do need cops.

I'm male, but typically play with female avatars because, well, they're easier on the eyes. I once made a female avatar which I gave a real-sounding name. I virtually got a virtual conga-line of pedos trying to groom me whenever I was in town.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: MMORPGs may not need spooks...

Why do you say pedos? Was your avatar a little girl, or do you mean you're underage in real life?

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Re: MMORPGs may not need spooks...

I say pedos because it was obvious that they were grown men thinking I was a little girl.

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