ISIS may have used PlayStations to plan Paris attacks

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The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) attacks that killed 129 people in Paris on Friday evening have been linked to a popular gaming network that officials say is incredibly difficult to monitor when it comes to terrorist communications.

"The most difficult communication between these terrorists is via PlayStation 4," Jan Jambon, Belgium’s federal home affairs minister, said at a Politico event days before the attack. "It’s very, very difficult for our services — not only Belgian services but international services — to decrypt the communication that is done via PlayStation 4.

"PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,” a popular instant messaging app that encrypts communications, Jambon added.

Unconfirmed reports show that a Sony PlayStation 4 console was confiscated from a suspect’s home during raids in Brussels, where at least some of the attackers are thought to have originated.

There are around 65 million active users on the PlayStation Network, which allows users to communicate with one another via text or voice chat.

The consoles have been used in other planned terrorist attacks.

Earlier this year, a 14-year-old boy from Austria was sentenced to two years in prison for downloading bomb-making plans on his PlayStation 4. Prosecutors said that the boy, a Turkish national, made contact with ISIS militants.

Some security researchers have slammed the suggestion that the Paris attackers used a PlayStation 4 to communicate as hyperbolic and unsubstantiated.

“My immediate response was ‘big deal,’” wrote security researcher and blogger Graham Cluley. “The PlayStation 4 is the best-selling video game console in the world. If you're raiding the homes of young men in their twenties, don't be surprised if they have a Sony PS4 stashed beneath their TV.”

“Anything which allows two people to exchange messages (whether it be by talking, typing, or waving semaphore flags at each other in a 3D virtual environment) could potentially be used by terrorists to communicate,” Cluley wrote.