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April 1, 2008

Security Implications of Nintendo DS and Sony PSP

I had a really interesting talk about a month ago with some staff members from a maximum security facility for minors somewhere in the USA. I agreed to keep tany identifying information confidential and it is irrelevant anyway. They wanted to know what I thought about the security implications of residents (mostly teenagers) having Nintendo DS and Sony PSP in the facility. They had seen that I write a lot about network security for different magazines and sites and also seen this blog so they thought I would be a natural choice to speak about these issues. I thought it was an interesting exercise.

On the surface, what harm could there be from allowing some kids to play portable video games? It doesn't seem like such a bad thing.

This is what I came up with. There are probably more things that can be done that I might have gotten to if I had some more time to brainstorm.

1. The Nintendo DS and the Sony PSP can physically be used as weapons. You could hold one in your hand and hit someone with it. You could sharpen a stylus and shank someone with it. You could break a UMD and use the sharp edge to attack someone. If you allow the kids to have the device then you have to allow the chargers and maybe the headphones; the cords of either could be used to strangle someone.

2. The Nintendo DS has a plastic blank filling the compartment where a GBA cartridge gets plugged in. The inside of that blank can be used to conceal contraband. Likewise with the UMD bay of the PSP, and maybe even the Memory Stick Slot of the PSP.

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