Microsoft President warns of Russian intelligence infiltration in gaming communities

Art of spies taking pictures of a computer screen.
(Image credit: Bing Image Creator/DALL-E)

What you need to know

  • Speaking at Semafor's World Economy Summit, Microsoft President Brad Smith has stated that Russian intelligence is attempting to "penetrate" gaming communities.
  • When asked about the recent leak of classified US documents spread in a Minecraft Discord server, Smith said that Microsoft's digital threat analysis teams have identified Russian efforts to infiltrate gaming circles and spread information in them.
  • Smith wouldn't say if Russian intelligence was directly involved with the document leaks themselves, but did allege that the groups spread the leaks in the Minecraft Discord server and "others."
  • The recently leaked documents reportedly included details about the war in Ukraine and other types of security data.

Microsoft President Brad Smith has said that Russian intelligence is attempting to "penetrate" gaming communities in order to spread information. Notably, this statement follows reports from earlier this week that indicate classified US documents were recently leaked and spread throughout a Discord server for Minecraft, one of the most popular games of all time.

When asked about the leak at Semafor's World Economy Summit, Smith warned that "for the last several months, Microsoft’s digital threat analysis team has been identifying efforts by the Russians to basically penetrate some of these gaming communities."

“We’ve been advising governments about this,” Smith continued. "You know, it's the Wagner Group, it is Russian intelligence, and they're in part using this [gaming communities] to get information into circulation."

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Though he declined to say if Russian intelligence was responsible for the Pentagon leaks themselves, Smith did allege that these groups were involved with the spread of the sensitive information.

"That's what happened here," he said. "It included the Discord channel around Minecraft. It included others of these ... They're going to publish information somewhere, it [gaming communities] just happens to be a good place for them to get the information into circulation and then ultimately, journalists find it."

The leaked documents were also shared on Twitter, 4chan, and Telegram. Reportedly, they contain information about the state of the war in Ukraine, China, "defense and security issues in the Middle East," and more. Chris Meagher, the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, said that some of the documents "appear to have been altered."

The leak is being actively investigated by various agencies of the US government. Recently, US President Joe Biden said that the Justice Department is "getting close" to identifying the culprit responsible for the leaks.

Brendan Lowry

Brendan Lowry is a Windows Central writer and Oakland University graduate with a burning passion for video games, of which he's been an avid fan since childhood. You'll find him doing reviews, editorials, and general coverage on everything Xbox and PC. Follow him on Twitter.