Microsoft president Brad Smith claims Russia is targeting video game communities in a bid to disseminate information.
During a chat at Semafor’s World Economy Summit, Smith was asked whether some video game apps and platforms represent a security threat. The question was posed after Discord recently played host to what appeared to be leaked Pentagon documents that contained classified material about the war in Ukraine.
In response, Smith said that while video games themselves shouldn’t be viewed as the issue–noting that “playing Call of Duty isn’t going to lead to deaths in the real world–he added that Microsoft’s digital threat analysis team believes members of the Russian intelligence community and paramilitary organization Wagner Group are attempting to infiltrate game communities.
“Around games, you have a community of gamers. They come together and talk to each other, including when they’re playing a game. For the last several months, our digital threat analysis team has been identifying threats by the Russians to penetrate some of their gaming communities,” he said, in a clip shared by Semafor on social media.
“We’ve been advising governments about this. It’s the Wagner Group. It is Russian intelligence. They’re, in part, using this to get information into circulation. That’s what happened here. It included the Discord channel around Minecraft. It included others.”
Smith, who has taken center stage recently as Microsoft attempts to convince regulators to approve its Activision Blizzard merger, quickly moved to downplay and fears those remarks may have caused, noting those perceived threats aren’t “the number one thing we should worry about.”
“They’re going to publish information somewhere,” he continued. “This just happens to be a good place for them to get the information into circulation, and then journalists find it.”