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How terrorists could use video games to communicate undetected

Security analysis says ISIS members are using video game networks to communicate without being detected
Security analysis says ISIS members are using... 06:30

Could video games provide a secure way for terrorists to communicate? Security experts are concerned that members of ISIS or other dangerous groups may be taking advantage of video game networks to communicate undetected.

In the aftermath of last week's Paris terror attacks, security analysts are looking into a number of different ways terrorists could have used encrypted messaging technology to share information. One possibility is messaging through something as innocuous as Sony's popular PlayStation 4, for instance. It allows players to send messages to others anywhere in the world through PS4's online PlayStation Network or directly to one another within specific games like "World of Warcraft."

While no evidence has emerged tying this technology to the Paris attacks -- earlier reports of a link were unfounded -- CNET Senior Editor Jeff Bakalar told CBS News that investigators are taking the potential threat seriously.

"You don't necessarily need to be playing a game. You can have a conversation outside of a game within something like a PlayStation 4's firmware. They allow 'party chat,' they call it," Bakalar said.

While these systems use encryption for security, Bakalar added that it's important not to view such communications as completely under-the-radar.

There is "maybe potentially a misconception about how encrypted and impenetrable these systems are," he said. "We're not dealing with NSA-level security stuff on the PlayStation 4 and [Microsoft's] Xbox Live."

That being said, with the PlayStation system nearly ubiquitous -- roughly 30 million units have been sold -- monitoring all user activity is not practical.

Millions more people around the world use popular messaging apps like WhatsApp and Viber, which have also sparked security concerns. These conversations are "encrypted and not exactly accessible when it comes to security," Bakalar said.

"I think what this does is it opens the door for the conversation saying 'hey, we didn't really consider this as a vessel for this type of behavior,' but it exists. It's out there," he said. "I think the next step is, OK, now that we have that information, where do we go from there?"

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