The Guardian reports today that, according to classified documents leaked by Edward Snowden, the NSA had agents infiltrate online worlds like World of Warcraft and Second Life in order to gather intelligence.
The NSA document, written in 2008 and titled Exploiting Terrorist Use of Games & Virtual Environments, stressed the risk of leaving games communities under-monitored, describing them as a “target-rich communications network” where intelligence targets could “hide in plain sight”.
If properly exploited, games could produce vast amounts of intelligence, according to the NSA document. They could be used as a window for hacking attacks, to build pictures of people’s social networks through “buddylists and interaction”, to make approaches by undercover agents, and to obtain target identifiers (such as profile photos), geolocation, and collection of communications.
Being paid by the NSA to play World of Warcraft sounded like a pretty sweet gig to quite a few.