The cyber attack on Sony"s Playstation Network that caused Sony to pull the plug on the online gaming network"s servers for several weeks, made a lot of people nervous. Users of Microsoft’s Xbox Live service might have been worried that a similar attack could have occurred on their side of the tracks. Now Microsoft has decided to give the general public a glimpse of how the company tries to keep Xbox Live safe from hackers, phishers and other generally nasty cyber bullies.
In an article on Microsoft"s press site, the company gives some info on the Xbox Live Policy and Enforcement team. This is the group that polices the 35 million users of the Xbox 360 online gaming service. According to the article, even though Xbox Live"s player population continues to grow, the number of players found to be engaged in illegal or threatening activity is very small. Stephen Toulouse, the group"s director, says, "Looking at the stats, the cross-section of bad apples we deal with every day is small – typically less than one percent of the overall population. The user complaint volume has tended to stay relatively flat compared to the line of new users."
One of the ways that the Policy and Enforcement Team keeps the malicious players in check is a software program it developed called Vulcan, that helps to better handle complaints from players. The team is now working with a second generation version of the software, Vulcan 2, that sorts out and deals with player complaints even faster than before. Sometimes, the team works with outside law enforcement organizations on particular Xbox Live cases.
Even with software such as Vulcan helping the team out, players shouldn"t expect that Xbox Live enforcement will be turned over completely to a Skynet-like AI. Team member Boris Erickson says, “Most of the decisions need human eyes to keep it real, though we are moving into a realm where we’re applying more automation to the process.”