The US Military Wants To Hack Foreign Game Consoles, Steal User’s Information

The US Military Wants To Hack Foreign Game Consoles, Steal User’s Information

The Department of the Navy is looking very closely at used video game consoles. Only, they don’t want to play them. They want to crack them open and steal all the information on overseas users they can get their hands on.

To that end, the Department has contracted a company called Obscure Technologies to go overseas, buy a mountain of pre-owned video game consoles and obtain as much “significant and sensitive information from previous users” as it’s possible to get.

Why overseas? Because of the nature of the work, they’re not allowed to target any “US persons”.

Obscure will be given just under USD$200,000 to undertake the work, mostly aimed at developing tools for getting the data and determining just how feasible such a process is. Attempts will then be made to gather the information both from the storage of the console itself, as well as “analyzing network traffic”.

The company was awarded the contract because “its lead scientist [has] previously reverse engineered the Microsoft XBOX”.

To recap, in case you haven’t really caught the gist of this yet, if you live outside the USA and have ever traded in a current-gen video game console, you’re now at risk – a remote risk, but a risk nonetheless – of having your “significant and sensitive information” obtained by the US military.

Perhaps most interesting/terrifying is that, at the conclusion of the research, some of the software developed for extracting this data will be released as open source and made “freely available”.

You can read the full contract outline below.

A — R & D effort for the development and delivery of computer forensic tools for analysing network traffic and stored data created during the use of video game systems [FedBizOps, via LiveScience]


  • I’m going to play the other side of this. With the amount of hacking going on by China over the last couple of years, couldn’t this be seen as a test to see if it could be done to those consoles that are currently on American military bases, which are played by military staff who would be at risk of such an attack?

    Seems to me that they’re more or less trying to cover their own asses as much as they want to get information out of foreign consoles. When considering, they aren’t nearly as popular in the territories identified as hostile to America

  • If they’re going to do this sort of thing anyway, releasing the tools as open source seems like a good idea. That should make it easier to develop tools and guides for securely wiping the data from a console before selling it.

  • I hate Americans. On what level do they think that this is the right thing to do? Their going to go too far pretty soon and WW3 will be upon us thanks to their paranoid crap.

    • “Their paranoid crap” may have something to do with the inordinately large number of people in the world who’s favourite chant is “death to America”. I think you’d be paranoid too

      • considering how much unnecessary meddling america has done, their hatred is perfectly justified. Take a wild guess at how many dictators and tyrants came into power due to US support, all for the love of oil.

    • Coming from a US citizen, I’m not exactly pleased with the USA (far from it), but hating the unwilling citizens who are strong-armed into funding this sort of thing isn’t going to get you anything.

      These days, it’s a luxury to live in a nation such as Australia where the government is simply not massive enough to become so opaque as the US or its enemies.

  • Well it sure beats them just turning up with a massive army and killing their way to get what they want, which is their usual trick.

  • This is disgusting how dare they part take in terrorist activity, ohhh it’s Thursday nothing new here.

    Tip ensure you delete everything before handing it over for sale, not sure how well they can recover the info then.

  • All i want to know is why they can’t target US consoles? Or is it against their constitution, etc.? While i have never sold any consoles i’ve owned, the really don’t like the idea of America continually medelling with other countries for protection, it’s more like they are doing it in their own interests and protecting their ass, i.e. recent announcement of US navy ships stationed on Garden Island (i live pretty close to it) and spy drone being stationed on one of the islands near here.

    It also strikes me peculiar, that the US Navy show interest into a console, especially in obtaining data. Going from what the US have done previously with linking multiple ps3 systems up, it wouldn’t suprise me if they had something bigger planned with consoles in the future, and needed to see how easy it would be to break in to steal information.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!