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DHS hires hackers to crack video game consoles

Reuters / Ina Fassbender

The US Department of Homeland Security might soon take the “joy” out of “joystick.” The country’s top counterterrorism unit has awarded a California company $177,235 to hack video game consoles under the guise of cracking down on criminal activity.

San Francisco-based Obscure Technologies is the recent recipient of a government contract for $177,235.50. For a small computer forensics firm with less than half-a-dozen employees, it’s a significant sum being awarded by Uncle Sam. The only catch, however, is that the small-time Silicon Valley company will be in charge of prying into the video game consoles used by millions of Americans during their personal pastime that was thought to be otherwise free of federal interference. According to the Department of Homeland Security, uncovering online communications conducted over video game networks could be key in thwarting terrorism.

As per the official contract awarded earlier this month to Obscure Technologies, the DHS is hoping the small time computer experts will be able to come up with “hardware and software tools that can be used for extracting data from video game systems.” If those powers can be made possible, the government wants to be able to get into the heavily encrypted computer data inside machines like Microsoft’s X-Box 360 and Nintendo’s Wii in order to build cases against could be criminals.

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