Fortnite: A LE and Intel Gold Mine

January 21, 2019

Fortnite is not something that old folks like me spend much effort understanding. That might be a problem if you are over 35 and engaged in enforcement activities.

Next Friday (January 25, 2019), I will giving a lecture to computer science students at one of Kentucky’s more interesting universities. I won’t define “interesting.” There is a reception with yummy university snacks, and I do not want to be dis-invited.

I have to mention the new mechanisms bad actors use to evade surveillance. One of the handy dandy tools is a game. Yep, Fortnite. That’s the game you probably don’t think about.

Consider these data points from one of my go to, real news, frightened of acquisition sources, USA Today:

  • One in five parents find it “moderately difficult” to get their progeny to stop playing
  • 27 percent of teens play Fortnite when in school classes
  • 50 percent of the teens in the survey use Fortnite to “keep up” with their friends
  • 44 percent have made a “friend” online within the game
  • 47 percent of teen girls play as well
  • 61 percent of teens have played.

Ah, the digital cocktail: Chat, in game money which can be used for money laundering, audio, an opportunity for grooming, learning new dances like the one Athletic Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann does when he scores a goal.


Now this game has made news in a different way.

Newsweek reported that Fortnite data have been compromised. “Fortnite Hack Could Have Accessed Accounts, V-Buck Purchases, & Chat” states:

Fortnite boasts more than 200 million active players, and a recent exploit found by Check Point Software Technologies could have put all of them at risk. The vulnerability, first discovered in November and patched by developers at Epic Games, could have been devastating. If leveraged, it would give third-parties full access to user account details, payment information and even in-game chat audio.

What’s the big deal?

Wherever there are young people, chat, digital currency, and minimal parental understanding, the game may provide:

  • A Petri dish for sexual predators looking for young people to groom
  • A mechanism for exchanging messages about drugs, weapons, and terrorist plans in plain view if one knows how and where to look
  • A conduit for money laundering. My hunch you, gentle reader, may not know how game currencies can be used to convert illegal gains into a hot property which can sell quickly to motivated buyers.

Net net: Fortnite may be more than a game, and it may be time to do more than say, “Put down that game. Come to dinner. Now.”

I will ask the audience on Friday, “Who plays Fortnite?” I will let you know if I learn anything or just get grumbles and blank stares from students and faculty alike.

Stephen E Arnold, January 21, 2019


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