Microsoft’s president has said its own security analysis teams have discovered that Russian intelligence has been working to share information within video game communities. This should not be surprising, though, as organizations have used gaming communities to discuss plans and share information for years.
In response to the recent news that sensitive information from the Pentagon was shared on a Minecraft Discord server, Brad Smith spoke at Semafor’s World Economy Summit this week about how state-sponsored actors are infiltrating video game communities to disseminate information.
“It’s not like playing Call of Duty is going to lead to deaths in the real world. These are video games. Around games, you have a community of gamers–they come together. They talk to each other, including when they are playing a game. And for the last several months, our digital threat analysis team has been identifying efforts by the Russians to basically penetrate some of these gaming communities,” Smith said (via GI.biz). “We’ve been advising governments about this. It’s the Wagner Group, it’s Russian intelligence. They are, in part, using [gaming] as a place to get information into circulation.”
The Wagner Group is a private military company that works on behalf of Russia. You can watch Smith deliver his comments in the video below.
Microsoft President @BradSmi says the Wagner Group and Russian intelligence have been working to penetrate gaming communities to use them “as a place to get information into circulation.” pic.twitter.com/F7CCmaqOvu
— Semafor (@semafor) April 12, 2023
According to reports, leaked documents containing information on Russian casualties and weapon systems available to Ukraine were posted on a Minecraft Discord server. An expert said Russia was not likely behind this leak, but Smith believes Russia is involved in other information releases via gaming communities.
In 2015, Belgium’s Minister of the Interior said terrorists were using the PlayStation Network to communicate. Before this, the Edward Snowden NSA leaks revealed that the United States government was monitoring conversations on Xbox Live and World of Warcraft. It also came to light that a British spy agency considered conducting surveillance through the Xbox Kinect camera.