Category Archives: second life security

Criminals in Virtual Worlds – itsReal

By Dean Takahashi Tracking criminals in virtual worlds

I’ve been wondering what would happen if there were drug dealers or terrorists lurking in virtual worlds such as Second Life. If the FBI or National Security Agency wanted to place wiretaps on conversations in those worlds, would they be able to do it? And if they did record conversations in virtual worlds, could the people spied upon escape prosecution by saying that they were only pretending to be terrorists or drug dealers?


My interest is theoretical at the moment. Interpol has said there are criminal elements operating in virtual worlds, but let’s not panic. There is enough fear-mongering out there about all the trouble we can get into online.But this topic is a persistent one at conferences such as Virtual Worlds, which drew more than a thousand people to San Jose last week.

Under current laws, the authorities can’t conduct fishing expeditions. They can’t order companies to incur huge expenses building eavesdropping systems in the virtual worlds that would make it easy to reclaim conversations from a long time ago, said Jim Dempsey, policy director of the civil liberties group Center for Democracy and Technology in Washington, D.C.

In other words, the government can’t ransack an entire virtual town just to find one possible drug dealer. The Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizures hold true in cyberspace as they do in the real world.

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Security in Second Life – itsReal

7 Things You Need to Know About Security in Second Life

Source of: Metaversed

Security in a virtual world like Second Life is a major concern. There always seems to be someone around who wants to amuse themselves by making others unhappy (“griefers”), and businesses need to know what do to when that happens. According to Dharma Austin of LSD Security Inc., an in-world security company that has worked with dozens of sim owners, most well-populated sims in Second Life are completely vulnerable to attack. I asked her what people really need to know when it comes to security.

1. Don’t rely on Linden Lab to do everything. – There is a time to file abuse reports, of course, but for the most part you will be able to handle situations on your own much faster. Waiting on the customer service of a company that has tens of thousands of people using its system at any given time isn’t the best idea in an emergency. Prepare to do things on your own.

2. Train the staff. – Often staff members on a sim don’t have any idea how to deal with estate tools. They need to be walked through the buttons, made aware of how to turn on/off scripting and building, how to ban people, and even the media controls. An uninformed staff might as well not be there at all, and could potentially make things worse.

3. Get over your fear. – An avatar getting shot by guns in Second Life doesn’t kill them and explosions won’t maim them. Much of what happens in griefing attacks involves intimidation, and everyone needs to realize that they can’t actually be hurt. This is a surprisingly common mistake, and staffers have been victimized a number of times by being “held at gunpoint”.

4. Know the three types of griefers.Type 1: Newbies who just don’t know what they’re doing and rez 10 sailboats by accident. Give them a landmark to a sandbox. Type 2: Amateur griefers with guns trying to assault people. Kick and ban them immediately. Type 3: Professional griefers there to do a bombing, sim crashings, or mass spam. They’re still not dangerous, but make sure to mute them in addition to kicking and banning them.

5. Particle spamming requires immediate and definitive action. – One quirk of Second Life allows “particles”, intangible floating graphics, to potentially fill the air. Train your staff to immediately turn scripting off in the estate tools until the problem particle generator is found and removed.

6. Beware of “alts”. – People who come to a sim with the intention of causing trouble generally don’t do so using the avatar they use every day. A well-dressed unverified avatar that’s only a few days old is a dead giveaway of an experienced Second Life resident using a new account to hide their identity. Don’t pre-emptively ban them, but be ready for trouble.

7. Security is not a popularity contest. – Banning people will always upset someone, but if you’re careful it will only be the griefer themselves. “The price I have had to pay is a bad reputation for banning people,” said Dharma, “but our sims are safe and our residents love it here.”

One thing you might have noticed about this list is that none of it involves a fix-all gadget that you install on a sim. This is about staffing your area, and making sure that they know what to do. If you’re too busy to handle this yourself there are a number of consulting companies like LSD Security Inc. out there who can run the training sessions for you and offer advice custom-tailored to your needs. No matter what you do, remember that the key here is prevention – prepare now, not after your sim is filled with spam.


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