D.C. police tackle the PSP terror threat
Could a terrorist use a Sony PlayStation Portable to hack into government networks? In theory, yes, writes Robert A. on PSP3D.com, a videogame-news discussion site. "The PSP has all the prerequisites" for penetrating government networks," says Robert: Wi-Fi and a decently powerful computer chip. "What's stopping terrorists and malicious individuals from sending a child, armed with a PSP ... to walk by the FBI ... building in Washington, D.C. (whose wireless networks reach the public sidewalk alongside the building), and gather data which could be used to thwart the government which protects us?"

That's the theory that Robert A. came up with after he innocently parked his car on Constitution Avenue and decided to play a round of Tekken. Sitting there with the car's lights off, he attracted an officer's attention, and soon found himself sitting on the curb, handcuffed, and interrogated by a crowd of policemen. It seemed absurd at the time, and the police eventually let him go, but reviewing the incident later, Robert concluded that the threat was real: "A portable device equipped with wireless capabilities ... is capable of anything," including hacking into government computer networks. The good -- if discomfiting -- news is that if Robert's theory is accurate, the D.C. police are aware of the threat.

What do you think? Were the police right to question someone who was just playing games?
Posted by Owen Thomas 10:42 AM 23 Comments comment | Add a Comment

I believe that falls under the classification of a strange and unusual act that deAserves to be questioned. This fact is amplified by the fact it is outside of a government building.
Posted By Adam, Baltimore, MD : 1:13 PM  

I would say it's the right thing for the police to question someone sitting outside of a federal building getting free internet access. But, on the flip side, let's be realistic. The capabilities of the PSP are over-stated in this piece. The PSP is a very powerful handheld system but it's main purpose is entertainment through movies, music, and games via the UMD not the internet. I've tried the browser on the psp and it's just not that good. So the possibilites are there for some kind of malicious code to be transmitted but highly unlikely.
Posted By me, somewhere in the US : 1:26 PM  

Yes. Although playing video games is an innocent activity, the hacking capabilities inherent in the PSP pose a serious threat to the security and integrity of our national government's classified data. People should be free to play video games wherever they want; except for alongside government buildings.
Posted By Brandon - Greensboro, NC : 1:51 PM  

It is the most idiotic article I have read today: the writer probably doesn't know that 99% of laptops, and over 50% of ultra-portable devices like PDAs and smartphones have wi-fi, so there are 1000s of devices that could potentially present such a threat. I am more worried by the threat portable game consoles- and not just PSPs- pose for the brains of our already degenerate youngsters.
Posted By Lorenzo, Miami, FL : 2:18 PM  

Yes the police were right in checking out someone using wireless equipment especially close to any goverment building....we HAVE to protect our country anyway we can, no matter what it takes. But we should also place blocks in walls to protect airwaves. Like cell phones that receive no reception along walls equiped with such material.
Posted By Janet , Pleasant Prairie Wi : 2:29 PM  

It wasn't that he was playing the PSP, but that he was loitering in that location that made them suspicious.
Posted By B, New York, NY : 2:38 PM  

Yes, considering the police didn't really know what he was doing. They saw a car: a)lights out, b)a figure sitting in his car, c) obviously he must have been in a red zone.

So the police had a reason for checking him out. Now since he was using a device in a red-zone then that would cause for further investigation.

Now to see if he was using that particular device for criminal intent would need be to analyze it to see if in deed it has been modified.
Posted By Joe, Washington DC : 3:01 PM  

the reason he was detained is because he was sitting in a car with the lights off. Not because of the psp he had.
Posted By dave davis AZ : 5:37 PM  

Definitely. It is casual snooping that can be most dangerous to security. If your not breaking a law you have nothing to fear.
Posted By Jack Percival , Phoenix, AZ : 5:53 PM  

Yes, the police were right to question him but that is not a foolproof way to stop eavesdroppers on wireless networks.
Posted By Milwaukee, WI : 6:11 PM  

You people are crazy! Robert is a fool to justify that type of action against himself he should move to china where they get off on that type behaviour welcome to the awakening of the facist state in America!
Posted By I'm thinking are you? : 6:27 PM  

Absolutely. Compromise the nations security/defense/offense for nothing.
Posted By Charlotte, NC : 6:47 PM  

I think the handcuffing went a bit far but a few questions and realease is a wise action considering what is happening in the world.
Posted By Barry, Sunnyvale Ca. : 9:16 PM  

If police don't question, HOW can they know if someone is play game or hacking the network?
Question is not a punishment or break of anyone's any rights.
Posted By Toronto,CA : 12:39 AM  

Of the police were justified. We live in a dangerous world and this guy is sitting outside a gov't building, inside his vehicle,without lights. The police had no way of knowing what he was doing there and it was a responsible action to investigate exactly what he was doing there.
Posted By Becky, Caledonia, WI : 12:45 AM  

sure if your in question a good citizen would not mind at all
Posted By Anonymous : 11:01 AM  

That is the Price to pay for technology. The BIGGEST problem I see isn't the PSP it is that the FBI building has WiFi signal leaking out. People are ALREADY using blackberries to do WiFi hacking. BESIDES you could be A LOT further than the side of the building or sidewalk with a good antenna, which I imagine a professional would do...
Posted By IntheKnow Ohio : 11:32 AM  

The whole war on terror has become a little out of hand, when we start arresting innocent children playing video games.

Why not start arresting people using
PDA'S, BLACKBERRY Phones, Cell Phones, Laptops, Tablet PC's.

Ruling should be based on the type of device, more so on the data found within the transmission.

Due to fact that individuals with Blackberry Phones, PDA's, Laptops and Tablet PC's pose a higher threat than Sony�s PSP.
Posted By Edward Folsom, Ca. : 1:05 PM  

no it is not right, it violates the 4th ammedment
Posted By reston,va : 9:50 AM  

It never amazes me on the stupidity of the federal government and the use of wireless networks in secure areas. Not only is this a violation, but anybody with a wireless devices can collect personnel information on you the citizen from the lack of security by our federal agencies.
Posted By Jeff in Ohio : 1:46 PM  

It is good that DC police knows the threat. Government units/ buildings and its movements are always visible, while terrorists are less visible. hence, it is important to make sure that government does not becomes an open target. How that is a million $ question, as it (the established process)will violates civil right,freedom and so on. The best way is to lead the technology and monitoring mechanism. I hope DC police can pull the string to close the gaps using and coordinating resource, technical or human.
Posted By m, ellicott city, md : 3:31 PM  

No, they weren't right. If the FBI or anyone else wants to protect their information then don't use wifi. Information in the air should be fair game for anyone.
Posted By David Tubbs, Memphis, TN : 1:50 PM  

The PSP cannot be feasibly be used as a pentration and hacking device because only* Sony signed and/or licensed code and programs may be run on it.

*Yes, the PSP may be modified to run "homebrew" unsigned code, but Sony's protections are so rubust that it would not be feasible to run hacking or penetration applications.
Posted By Brian, Saint Paul, MN : 1:33 AM  

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