#394 Dec 29, 2014 – Sony vs. North Korea, Part III

This week’s headline story: Sony vs. North Korea, Part III

Kim-Jung-UnAfter pulling it’s new film, The Interview, over threats from North Korean hackers, Sony has flip-flopped and is offering a limited release instead. The comedy which includes a plot to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jung Un was released to roughly 330 small independent theaters and online streaming services. Many theaters reported sellouts, and “The Interview” was listed as the No. 1 seller on YouTube Movies and the Google Play store on Thursday morning. Many are watching the movie as an act of defiance against the hacker threats. The movie has received, at best, luke warm reviews. Meanwhile, the North Korean government is blaming the U.S. for cutting its access to the Internet, and describing President Obama as “reckless in words and deeds like a monkey in a tropical forest.”

in other tech news…

  • Drones Become Popular Holiday Gifts [NewsFactor]
    Drone aircraft were a popular holiday present this year, extending beyond just serious hobbyists to the general public. BestBuy, Amazon and other retailers were offering five times as many models as last year ranging in price from $60 to $6000. With the increase in camera-carrying drones comes increased concern over privacy, and safety. All three of the biggest personal drone makers — DJI, Parrot and 3D Robotics — have formed a coalition to lobby the FAA to help develop standards for personal drone use.
  • A Prototype Battery Could Double the Range of Electric Cars [MIT Technology Review]
    An experimental lithium-ion battery based on materials developed at a U.S. Department of Energy lab stores twice as much energy as the batteries used in most electric cars. If the technology can be commercialized, it could give affordable electric cars a range of over 200 miles per charge.
  • Singapore Wants a Driverless Version of Uber [Technology Review]
    Singapore will open one of its neighborhoods to driverless cars in 2015, with the idea that such vehicles will operate as a kind of taxi service, picking up passengers and taking them to trains or other modes of public transportation.

and in Information Security news this week..

  • These are the hackers who wrecked your holiday gaming [Engadget]
    Microsoft Xbox Live back up, Sony PlayStation Network still down
    [Reuters]
    Grinches steal Christmas for Xbox Live, PlayStation Network users [Ars technica]
    Those who received game consoles from Mircosoft or Sony for Christmas experienced some frustration as they atempted to play their first game. A hacking group called “Lizard Squad” brought down both the Xbox Live and PlayStation networks Christmas day. Xbox was down for one day, while Sony’s Playstation network was impacted for three days. Lizard Squad supposedly bombarded the networks with a denial of service attack at a rate of 1.2 terabits per second – three times the rate of the previous largest attack on record. Why’d they do it? For laughs and to expose the “incompetence” of the security teams at Microsoft and Sony, says a group spokesperson.
  • 2015 Could Be the Year of the Hospital Hack [MIT Technology Review]
    There is concern that hospitals and other health care organizations will become a primary focus of hackers in 2015. Carl Leonard, principal security analyst for Websense, says hackers are breaking into the computer networks of health-care facilities with increasing frequency and taking valuable personal information that is often secured improperly. 2014 saw more than a 600 percent increase in attacks on hospitals.

and in Tech Industry news…

  • The Startup Meant to Reinvent What Bitcoin Can Do [MIT Technology Review]
    A company named Blockstream has received $21 million from LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman and other Silicon Valley luminaries, to develop technology that will use the code that underpins Bitcoin to secure other kinds of assets, such as contracts or ownership of stock. Bitcoin has come a long way since its obscure debut in 2009, and the 13.5 million bitcoins in circulation are worth $4.7 billion. But the currency has yet to become widely used, and Blockstream’s founders and investors say significant technical improvements are needed for that to happen.

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