Microsoft president Brad Smith has claimed that Russian intelligence groups are trying to “penetrate” gaming communities to spread information. This follows reports of leaked Pentagon documents that were shared through a Minecraft Discord.
Earlier this week, it was reported that classified intelligence documents from the United States were leaked and subsequently spread through a Discord server for Minecraft.
The leak has been described as a “massive intelligence breach” and included documents that detailed America’s involvement in the Ukraine war and information on its allies.
Addressing the leak at Semafor’s World Economy Summit, Microsoft’s Brad Smith has warned that Russian groups are looking to “penetrate” gaming communities to help spread similar information.
Describing social media sites like Discord and their communities, Smith said that for several months, Microsoft’s “digital threat analysis team has been identifying efforts by the Russians to basically penetrate some of these gaming communities”.
Microsoft President @BradSmi says the Wagner Group and Russian intelligence have been working to penetrate gaming communities to use them “as a place to get information into circulation.” pic.twitter.com/F7CCmaqOvu
— Semafor (@semafor) April 12, 2023
“We’ve been advising governments about this,” added Smith, who alleged Russian intelligence and the Wagner Group – a Russian private military group – were behind the attempts Microsoft observed.
While Smith declined to comment on whether either group was responsible for the recent Pentagon leaks, he explained that gaming communities “just [happen] to be a good place for them to get the information into circulation, and then journalists find it”.
“It included the Discord channel about Minecraft, it included others,” he added.
When Russia’s invasion of Ukraine started in 2022, Smith halted the sale of Microsoft products in Russia, and accused the country of violating the Geneva Convention by using cyber-attacks to target civilian sites.
In the war’s first month, Smith also claimed Microsoft had acted against “destructive or disruptive measures against more than 20 Ukrainian government, IT and financial sector organisations”.
Elsewhere, Microsoft’s proposed acquisition of Activision Blizzard has continued, and one UK watchdog has moved closer to approving the deal.