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Terrorist Training now Possible on Virtual Worlds

In a critical examination on the blog for Counter-Terrorism, Roderick Jones, former policeman with the British Special Branch and Michael Schrage, innovation expert and advisor to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), point out that terrorist gangs are now first to adopt new technologies, more so if they are inexpensive and not difficult to acquire. United Press International published this in news on December 20, 2007.

Computer security researchers Charlie Miller and Dinoa Dai Zovi recently showed how a QuickTime flaw (which is yet to be patched) could be exploited to rob users of Linden Dollars in the virtual world of Second Life.

In Second Life, players can add media files to objects in the online game and use the QuickTime application to render those files. In addition, these media files could be constantly played. Furthermore, any player on Second Life who might land up in the area that has a malicious QuickTime file embedded could even exploit it.

Once the victim, a Second Life player, views the malicious QuickTime file, the attacker gains full control over his computer. In such a situation, the victim could be made to do anything the attacker desires by freezing the player with the exploit and making him send the hacker 12 Linden Dollars.

The two 'blog' writers argue that technologies of such kinds might in the end put aside the need to set up training camps for terrorists. Geographically scattered terrorist gangs could come together in a common place and learn the technical craft of terrorist activities, such as making bombs in virtual conditions. United Press International published this, December 20, 2007.

The authors further argue that undetectable, disposable and cheap timely virtual environments that amalgamate the advantages of Second Life or any other virtual world with the malicious ability of bot-infected networks are inevitable.

Obstacles that would restrict the creation of such an environment are being continually minimized as organizations ensure the easy availability of tools for setting up DIY worlds. With a relatively minor software interface from scattered servers hosting the environment, virtual worlds can be built. Botnets, in addition, could function as non-permanent servers, the authors concluded.

Related article: TRUSTe Certified Websites May Still Contain Malware

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