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Edward Snowden: Is he a Level 12 Orc Mage?

By now, we’re all familiar with the exploits of Edward Snowden. Recently, he spoke, via web, to conference attendees at SXSW. And whatever your feelings on him and his release of classified information, it is clear that we have a challenge with folks interested in stealing data and releasing it. Whether it’s hackers pilfering your credit card, an insider conducting industrial espionage or, in Snowden’s case, an insider bent on releasing classified information. We have a problem.

As it so happens, and as you may know, I am quite the gamer. I love games. Video, board, psychological. You name it, I’m into it. So I was pleasantly surprised when I read this article by Patrick Tucker and its reference to World of Warcraft and insider threats.

Using insights gained from the social networking habits and psychological profiles of World of Warcraft players, the research team at Palo Alto Research Center have identified a model for using large-scale data from massively mulit-player online role playing games, or MMOs, to identify insider threats.

Could this be more in my wheelhouse?

The PARC team observed 350,000 game characters over six months. In their examination they were looking for indicators that an individual player would quit their guild and what in-game personality traits they might exhibit. All towards the end of proactively identifying a guild-quitter. If you can identify who will quit their guild before they actually quit (and if they will harm their guild in the process), can you identify someone who exhibits similar characteristics in the real world and possible identify folks interested in quitting their job (and maybe doing harm to their employer in the process)?

This is fascinating stuff. Equating the large-scale behavioral characteristics of WoW players to behaviors in the real-world might seem challenging, but it turns out that it works. At least that’s what the PARC team determined.

My point is that it seems we can use games to help us solve the insider threat problem. I wonder what else we could solve with games?

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