#393 Dec 22, 2014 – Sony Hack brings International Tension

This week’s headline story: Sony Hack brings International Tension

The_Interview_2014_posterTwo weeks ago, Sony Pictures Entertainment was hacked compromising private company data. The hack came with demands for Sony to cancel the release of its soon-to-be released comedy “The Interview” which depicts a fictional assassination attempt on North Korean leader Kim Jong Hackers threatened the lives of Sony employees and their families if the movie was released. Sony ultimately canceled the launch of the movie, garnerring criticism for giving into terrorist threats. The FBI says that it has enough evidence to implicate North Korea in the attack. North Korea denies any involvement in the attack and says that any evidence to the contrary is flimsy at best. North Korea proposed a joint investigation into the attack. The White house has rejected the offer saying “The government of North Korea has a long history of denying responsibility for destructive and provocative actions.” President Obama says that the U.S. is prepared to respond “proportionally” to the attack, and said his staff was preparing various options. The White house has reached out to China in efforts to block any future attacks from North Korea. North Korean telecommunications are run through Chinese-operated networks.


in other tech news…

  • Cuba’s Internet Revolution Faces Economic and Political Realities [MIT Technology Review]This week President Obama announced the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba. Included in the agreement are efforts to increase Cubans’ access to communications and the Internet. Today only roughly 5 percent of Cubans have access to the Internet. The new U.S. agreement could bring Internet to everyone, if not hampered by the communist regime.
  • FTC Hits T-Mobile with $90 Million Cramming Fine [NewsFactor]FCC May Zing Sprint $105M for Customer Overcharges [NewsFactor]
    Wireless giant T-Mobile has agreed to pay more than $90 million as punishment for placing unwanted third-party charges on phones, also known as “mobile cramming.” If the announced agreement is approved by a U.S. District Court, it would resolve an FTC lawsuit filed in July that accused T-Mobile of billing customers for unwanted charges, including horoscope, love tip and celebrity gossip services. T-Mobile received 35 percent to 40 percent of each charge, the FTC said in its lawsuit, and the company reportedly made it excessively difficult for consumers to get refunds. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is reportedly weighing a fine of $105 million against Sprint for adding unauthorized third-party charges to its wireless customers’ phone bills.
  • Pew: Experts Cynical About Future of Online Privacy [NewsFactor]In a new survey by the Pew Research Center, more than half of Internet experts polled said Internet privacy will not improve over the next decade. According to “The Future of Privacy” survey, 55 percent of those polled disagreed that the coming decade would lead to some type of system allowing companies to innovate and make money while also letting people choose how they want their information to be shared. One expert is quoted as saying, “Big data equals big business. Those special interests will continue to block any effective public policy intended to ensure security, liberty, and privacy online.”
  • Geneticists Begin Tests of an Internet for DNA [MIT Technology Review]A coalition of geneticists and computer programmers calling itself the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health is developing protocols for exchanging DNA information across the Internet. One of the group’s first demonstration projects is a simple search engine that combs through the DNA letters of thousands of human genomes stored at nine locations. The search engine is the start of a kind of Internet of DNA that may eventually link millions of genomes together.
  • Chip-Making Tools Produce Ultra-Efficient Solar Cells [MIT Tech Review]Soitec, a French manufacturing company, says it has used techniques designed for making microprocessors to produce solar cells with a record-setting efficiency of 46 percent, converting more than twice as much sunlight into electricity as conventional cells. Although the cells are more complicated to produce, using established manufacturing techniques promises to keep production costs down.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • Just How Bad Was the ICANN Database Breach? [NewsFactor]ICANN, the nonprofit organization that manages domain names, has been hacked! The organization is investigating a system intrusion that compromised its domain name servers. ICANN described what it classified as a spear phishing attack that started in late November. Since ICANN stores passwords as salted cryptographic hashes, it’s highly unlikely that any major damage was done.
  • Is ISIS Attacking Enemies with Malware? [NewsFactor]ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which is famous for its videos of brutal beheadings on YouTube, is reportedly using malware as part of its arsenal of terror. A Syrian citizen media group critical of ISIS was recently targeted in a customized digital attack designed to unmask the group’s location.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • Will BlackBerry Classic Woo Business Users? [NewsFactor]Blackberry is getting back to its roots by unveiling the Blackberry Classic – a remake of it’s original handset that set the business world on fire a decade ago. BlackBerry is billing the device as a “no-nonsense smartphone that’s built to meet the needs of productive people who appreciate the speed and accuracy that can be found with a physical QWERTY keyboard.”
  • Sony Clip-On Device Makes Any Glasses Smart [NewsFactor]Sony plans to release a competitor to Google Glass. Rather than offering a pair of glasses equipped with processor, camera and display, Sony plans to offer a clip on device that can attach to any pair of glasses.

and finally…

  • Google Driving Toward Android-Powered Cars [NewsFactor]Google is working on getting its Android mobile operating system built directly into a variety of vehicles. Such a system would allow drivers to use mobile apps without having to connect their cellphones to their cars. Google isn’t alone in its automobile aspirations. In March, Apple announced a new offering called CarPlay with many of the same features that Google is working on. Soon you may have to select Apple or Google for your in-dash system when you purchase a new car.

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