Monday, 16 November 2015 13:56

PlayStation 4 implicated as comms tool in Paris terror attacks Featured

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Speculation is rife that the terrorists who attacked multiple locations in Paris on Friday night, killing at least 129 people, may have communicated when planning and carrying out their attacks using Sony PlayStation 4 gaming consoles.

According to a growing number of media reports, investigations in France and Belgium have found at least one PlayStation 4 which they suggest may have been used by the terrorists.

But, the reports that PlayStation 4s may have been used are speculation at this stage, and there has been no confirmation of this by authorities investigating the terrorist attacks.

One media outlet – Forbes – reports that Belgian federal home affairs minister Jan Jambon has said that that the PS4 is used by ISIS agents to communicate, and was selected due to the fact that it’s notoriously hard to monitor.

Writing in Forbes, contributor Paul Tassi says: “When the new generation of consoles launched, there were concerns that they would be too light on privacy, with peripherals like Microsoft  MSFT -1.92%’s  Kinect and PlayStation’s Camera possibly having the ability to spy on users if say, the government wanted a window into your living room.

“While the idea is certainly Orwellian, it’s the non-peripheral based communication on consoles which may provide terrorists a channel to effectively converse with one another. The comparatively low-tech system may offer a more secure means of communication than even encrypted phone calls, texts and email,” Tassi observes.

Tassi does say that while it remains unclear whether the Paris ISIS terrorists employed PS4 to communicate, “there are a few options, from sending messages through the PlayStation Network (PSN) online gaming service and voice-chatting to even communicating through a specific game”.

In another media report, the tech website Geek says the Paris terrorists are “suspected” of using PlayStation 4s to communicate.

“It’s been suggested that the ‘communication tool of choice' for the Paris terrorists was the PlayStation 4,” writes Matthew Humphries.

“While that may seem like a surprising choice, from a terrorist’s point of view it’s one of the safer options.

“The authorities have been able to monitor standard communication channels (land lines, cell phones, email, Internet browsing) easily for years, but the IP-based voice communication offered on the PS4 is much more difficult to listen in on, as is any peer-to-peer systems used,” Humphries says.

And, the video game website Gamenguide also reports that in raids on suspected terrorists bases in France and Belgium, shortly after the Paris attacks, there was a report that at one of the bases a PlayStation4 was seized and officials are “speculating that it might have been used as a tool for communicating”.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham is a co-founder of iTWire and a 35-year veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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