“Game of Threats” PwC’s new game to create awareness against hacking

PriceWaterhouseCoopers devises a new game to make corporates, retailers and employees aware of cyber security

Sony hack has hit the United States corporate world pretty hard. It never seemed possible that that a band of hackers could bring the entertainment behemoth to its knees but that happened.  How is corporate world or retailers fighting back. Well by playing games! More accurately playing “Game of Threats.”

Game of Threats game is a hacking simulator developed by management consulting firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers to convince all concerned to take cyber security and hacking very seriously. The strategy game is somewhat a mixture of Chess with turned based card game like  “Magic: The Gathering.”

Game of Threats

PwC says that the “Game of Threats” is a unique computer game  which makes all those who play it aware of the threats of hacking, phishing and other cybersecurity issues. The players who can be anybody from executives, retailers, system admin to those who are in direct contact with the system admin.

The players of the game are led into a room and split into two groups. Half of them play as hackers on the offensive. The other half is the unsuspecting Acme Corporation.

Each side gets playing cards with special abilities. For example, hackers can send scam emails laced with malware. But the company can train employees to avoid clicking on fishy emails. Hackers might use malware to lock employees out of their computers. But the company can restart its entire computer network.

The challenge is that money is limited and you can only make one decision per turn. The objective is simple but hard to decide. What do you do in the situation? Do you build up your team of experts? Invest in better cyber security? Or just continue with present scenario like Sony did?  Any wrong move might let hackers steal your company’s valuable intellectual property.

With 12 rounds of only 60 seconds each, the Game of Threat offers exciting fast-paced gameplay that tries to copy the real life situation of actual data breach. Time is of essence in the game, the admin of Sony and Home Depot didn’t have the luxury of time to respond. Neither do you.

Hence, its war games. Players learn every time the hacking team wins, or Acme Corp. runs out of money, or is forced to host a press conference to admit it lost customer data.

The game penalizes Acme Corp. if it talks publicly too quickly without assessing the facts. But Acme gets a boost for eventual honesty. Sound like real life?

“What this is at its heart is a critical decision-making game,” said Craig Stronberg, a consultant at the firm who designed the game.

PwC says that the idea of the game is to give company managers and retailers especially those have very little technical expertise to get a better perspective of what happens when they get hacked. That’s why they play as both sides. The game is played for up to eight hours at a time by finance auditors, compliance employees and other boardroom executives, so they each get a taste of the battle their cybersecurity team faces everyday.

Considering the bleak cyber security environment where a hack or a data breach is announced every day this game could be an answer to the cyber security problems. 2014 was designated with a cruel honorific of ‘Year of the Hack’ with hackers stealing more than 60 million credit cards from Albertson’s, Home Depot, Michaels, Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang’s, Staples and SuperValu. Chinese hacker spies took business plans from power plants. Russian hackers broke into oil and gas companies. North Korean hackers destroyed computers at Sony Pictures.

PwC may have found some fun way to fight the growing menace of hacking. But don’t expect to play this on your laptop or tablet anytime soon. PwC is keeping this one for clients only.

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