E3: Cybersecurity Hits Gaming, Opportunity Exposed

The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), the annual trade show for computer and video games, is underway in Los Angeles. As the show opened, Sony Computer Entertainment America took the opportunity to apologize for the cyberbreach that crippled the Playstation Network during the past several weeks. Meanwhile, Nintendo was also attacked this week by LulzSec, the hacking group that had compromised Sony's system.

LulzSec, which has taken to Twitter to promote its escapades, posted the following message on the 5th:

Re: Nintendo, we just got a config file and made it clear that we didn't mean any harm. Nintendo had already fixed it anyway. <3 them!

The group has claimed it is a fan of Nintendo, going as far as to Tweet (on the same day as message above):

We love Nintendo and Sega, if anything we'd hack *for* them. If you're listening Nintendo/Sega, you, you uh... you want Sony hacked more?

While LulzSec's actions are criminal and should not be condoned, they do remind us that security must be taken seriously and there is a need for a new generation of cybersecurity experts and programmers.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education continues to lag in the U.S., though new attention is being focused on revitalizing our nation's efforts. STEM is key to our cybersecurity future.

As I have walked around E3 this week, it has become apparent that many of the video game makers "get" it. Games are becoming more sophisticated but they are also becoming more interactive -- even for young kids who are flocking to computers at a higher pace than their older siblings, parents, etc.

There is potential, especially in the gaming space, for innovation and security to meet. We've seen some of this already with the U.S. Cyber Challenge, which develops and conducts competitions and camps for high school, college, and post-graduates on cybersecurity. We could do ourselves a huge favor, however, by starting even earlier.

At E3, Microsoft announced that Minecraft, an independent game that allows players to build landscapes and their environment out of textured cubes in a 3D world, is coming to the Xbox 360. The company also announced the release of Fun Labs, a test bed (kinda) for developers to show off experiences. Nintendo, meanwhile, announced its next-generation Wii U, with an integrated 6-inch LCD touch screen that allows multiple users to see or share different things, a stylus, and various tools found in some of the tablets that are infiltrating the computing space. The potential for building games that promote collaboration and group problem-solving (something hackers seem to be excellent at) is significant.

So as cybersecurity woes strike the gaming industry, they also expose the potential for the industry to be a leader on our efforts to secure our networks and related devices. As companies think outside the box, or inside the Xbox as the case may be, the development of interactive and problem-solving games and hardware may just help us develop the next generation of cybersecurity professionals.