Friday, January 2, 2015

If you try to ban it, it will go viral

“Our Beloved Leader is wise. He is gentle, kind and strong. We wish him joy. We wish him peace. We wish him love.  [...] They are arrogant and fat. They are stupid and they're evil. May they drown in their own blood and feces." ‘The Interview' could have been just another movie released, it could have been just another title stored in video libraries. But it is about to become film of the year, thanks to hackers. The question is... what hackers?

Although US authorities pointed quickly and decisively to the North Korean regime, it is increasing the number of voices calling such statement into question. There are even references to hacktivism groups which mock the FBI’s "effectiveness", and several researchers at cybersecurity firm Norse carried out a research linked to a group called "Guardians of Peace" (GoP): six individuals, including a former employee of Sony, would be behind much talked about cyber criminal operation.

In fact, the GoP itself claimed responsibility for the attack, and could cause more episodes like that. According to The Intercept, this group is getting ready for a massive attack against one of the largest American media. While all eyes point to the CNN, the fact is that US authorities are pressing major media to be alert (more than usual) to address any possible attack.

The episode of The Interview became even more famous because Internet "turned off" in North Korea just some days after the attack. Any retaliation? And if it was so...  Did it come from US intelligence, or hacktivist groups? At Vox.com they recently pointed out that the second choice was unfeasible, because not even all Anonymous’ power together could shut down the network of an entire country, while at Erratasec Robert Graham explained that it is not only virtually possible, but any of us can promote a digital blackout at Kim Jong Un’s regime. And he also details how it can be done. It's a simple matter of bandwidth.

Meanwhile, there are those who take advantage of the situation to offer their products. This is the case of some Israeli startups, who are working on "alternative" approaches. For example, they propose to use fake computers in which it shouldn’t happen any activity as baits for cybercriminals. If someone access a device that should not exist, it clearly has a malicious goal. One of these startups says this methods would have made easier the task of identifying the responsible for the attack on Sony Pictures.

Apart from this issue, 2014 left behind major incidents such as the ones suffered by Target, Home Depot or Jewel Osco. That is, consumers’ personal and financial data leaks. It is a permanent risk in online industry, but it is especially dangerous when adequate measures are not taken. A recent study calls into question the protection of such data by most companies. Figures leave no doubt: six out of ten companies do not have "mature" methods to control and monitor the most sensitive data stored.

Another study presented at the Chaos Computer Club Conference in Hamburg highlights a type of content representing only 2% of all that can be found on the Web Deep... but means 8 out of 10 queries. Guns? Drugs? Hacking tools? No, something much more sad and gloomy: child pornography. A famous Spanish speaker says in his speeches: "Hackers are not the wicked ones, the bad ones are you who are asking bad things." News like this give reinforces this statement.

By the way, have you already watched The Interview? Are you thinking of doing it? Who would say that this film would reach such notoriety, right? Well, come people in Gop, Korea, or wherever the attackers are from must be nervous witnessing how the movie they wanted to kill goes viral. The new digital rules apply to everyone... including criminals.

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