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North Korean leader plays Homefront on Xbox to practice taking over US

Mar 30, 20144 mins
Data and Information SecurityMicrosoftSecurity

While North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is playing Xbox to plot World War III and the downfall of America, South Korea is using Kinect sensors, modified for military use, as border surveillance.

When Microsoft created Xbox and later Kinect, do you suppose the company thought its products would be used for war in a context other than gaming? Before we jump to South Korea using Kinect sensors to watch for invading enemies, let’s look at how North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is using his Xbox to practice “strategizing all-out nuclear war against the U.S.”

Kim, who is full-on-crazy and has even reportedly executed family members for “half-heartedly clapping,” reportedly told his military chiefs to prepare for war with South Korea in 2015. But an unnamed North Korean source claims Kim is playing his favorite game Homefront on Xbox to plan nuclear war on America. According to the Daily Star:

A North Korean source said: “Kim Jong-Un is a computer wizard and already has a stash of western games, including Homefront.

“He loves the idea of the Korean army taking over the U.S. To be able to play as them taking on the Americans has put a smile on his face.”

The Homefront video game was described as:

The year is 2027, and the world as we know it is unraveling after fifteen years of economic meltdown and widespread global conflict over dwindling natural resources. A once proud America has fallen, her infrastructure shattered and military in disarray. To make matters worse, crippled by a devastating EMP strike, the USA is powerless to resist the ever expanding occupation of a savage, nuclear armed Greater Korean Republic. Abandoned by her former allies, the United States is a bleak landscape of walled towns and abandoned suburbs. This is a police state where high school stadiums have become detention centers, and shopping malls shelter armored attack vehicles. A once-free people are now prisoners… or collaborators… or revolutionaries.

Kim may love the first-person-shooter setting of Homefront and actually believe “his prowess as a gamer will help defeat his enemies in the West.” However, Kim and the people next to him who don’t want to be executed may be the only ones to believe it. As an unnamed former U.S. diplomat, who has monitored North Korea for more than a decade, told the Daily Star, “This might be his only chance of racking up any kind of victory against America.”

While the crazy North Korean leader uses his Xbox to plan and practice war against the U.S., South Korea is using Kinect sensors, modified for military use, to protect its border.

We learned last month that South Korean engineer Ko Jae-kwan modified Kinect to act as a motion detector capable of watching the Demilitarized Zone for invading North Korean soldiers. At 2.5 miles wide and 155 miles long, the DMZ depopulated no-man’s land between the North and South was already heavily fortified; but that security was prone to errors and would sound “false alarms because of falling leaves or roaming animals.” Ko told AFP, “Existing sensors, which had been in place along the border, were highly efficient but could not tell the difference between humans and animals, sending wrong signals frequently.”

Ko’s modification, which was sold to the South Korean military last year, can “detect the shapes and sizes of people, animals or objects, as well as speed of movement.” The tweaked Kinect sensors provided “a significant improvement on conventional security sensors” and were placed in some areas along the DMZ in August 2013. “Such devices are established as part of our project to strengthen surveillance with scientific equipment, but we cannot provide details for security reasons,” added an anonymous defense ministry official.

Microsoft confirmed Kinect was modified for military use and that the “technology had sufficient accuracy for non-videogame applications.” Last Thursday, the Kinect for Windows blog revealed the Kinect for Windows v2 hardware, adding that it’s getting closer to launching the “next generation of Kinect for Windows.” I wonder how the next generation of Kinect might be used to plot war or help protect against those possibilities?

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ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.