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Was a Playstation 4 used in Paris terror attack planning?

Published Nov 17, 2015, 6:24 pm IST
Updated Mar 27, 2019, 2:16 am IST
Game consoles offer their own P2P communications that are below the radar

It’s a scene straight out of a Criminal Minds episode: A group of terrorists compromising national security by using a video game console as a secure mode of communication. According speculation swirling in technology circles, perpetrators of the Paris terrorist attack on Friday may have planned their strategies via Sony's PlayStation 4 consoles.

They take as their cue, the finding of a PS4 among the equipment systems in raids on the homes of the terrorists, linked with the statement of the Belgian federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon: “The thing that keeps me awake at night is the guy behind his computer, looking for messages from IS and other hate preachers.” He added “PlayStation 4 is it’s notoriously hard to monitor. It is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp."


An article in Forbes suggests that PlayStation 4 could have offered a range of ways to communicate secretly. As well as voice calls between players and online chat messaging, conspirators could discuss plots without speaking or writing a word by exchanging secret messages within specific games.

For example" terrorists could spell out an attack plan in Super Mario Maker’s coins and share it privately with a friend, or two Call of Duty players could write messages to each other on a wall in a disappearing spray of bullets."

Security agencies are not unaware of the potential of video games and their closed peer to peer networks like the Playstations's PS for clandestine communication.

Interestingly, this may not be the first time video games are used for plotting terror -- or busting them. Forbes claims that documents leaked by renowned whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013 made a dramatic revelation that the NSA and CIA actually embedded themselves in games like World of Warcraft to infiltrate virtual terrorist meet-ups.

The single biggest reason why games consoles like the PS4 or for that matter the XBox 360 are likely candidate for classified communication is the range of options they offer. You can voice chat, message each other, or even write temporary messages on walls in a game like Call of Duty – all this without being actively tracked. One, the console offers communication channels and two; most games – especially multiplayer war games -- come with their own innovative communication modules.

There are 2 million plus PS consoles out there. It’s a scary scenario, if indeed; the Paris infiltrators have used a war game to induce terror in real-life. Virtual and real - the lines seem to be blurring.

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