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The digital world, explained.

Xbox rumors of ban on used games spark complaints, fall in stock prices

Following rumors that Microsoft's next generation Xbox console will not allow users to play cheaper used games, video game reseller GameStop suffered a fall in stock prices while the internet erupted in outrage and speculation.
The report’s accuracy almost seems beside the point as the speculation over used games being forced out of the market is already affecting the gaming industry.

Anonymous' OpLastResort releases user information for thousands of US bank executives

Anonymous has released user and personal information belonging to 4,000 US community bank executives, in an escalation in their online battle against the US Department of Justice.

UPDATE: The Federal Reserve admitted on Wednesday that hackers did gain access to computers used in communication with local banks after the Anonymous hacker collective released the personal information of over 4,000 US bank executives earlier this week.

“The Federal Reserve System is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product,” A Federal Reserve spokesman said in a statement.

“The exposure was fixed shortly after discovery and is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve System,” the spokesman said.

Citing federal law enforcement officials, ABC news stated that the FBI has opened an investigation into the incident.
The Federal Reserve hack was part of an Anonymous campaign, OpLastResort.

“The Fed calls our hack claims 'overstated', like their qualification for an unregulated and opaque role in determining US economic policy,” said Twitter account @OpLastResort, the account used by the organization for this particular operation.

Anonymous released the security credentials for over 4,000 US bank executives on Monday, posting their user account information, passwords and personal information online as part of OpLastResort.

OpLastResort is an Anonymous operation calling for sweeping reforms of the US criminal justice system.

Anonymous claimed that the bank executives' information was taken from networks associated with the US Federal Reserve.

The dox – or release of personal information online – was posted as a spreadsheet on a domain belonging to the Alabama Criminal Justice Information center: To publish the spreadsheet, the hackers gained access to the domain and added “oops we did it again” to the URL.

Banks listed in the dox included a large number of small community banks. Lacking the security infrastructure of larger national banks, local banks are more vulnerable to security breaches and cyberattacks.


Are China's cyber soldiers unstoppable?

It's not science fiction. Cyber warfare is becoming reality as the US ramps up efforts to challenge China's digital hegemony.

Just days after news broke of the Pentagon’s efforts to recruit IT professionals into Cyber Command’s new fighting force, the four-month-long online siege of The New York Times by Chinese hackers was revealed to the public, suggesting that protracted cyber warfare is a real danger.

According to the Times, evidence suggests that the Chinese government was behind the cyber-attack, using methods that some consultants have previously associated with the Chinese military.

China employs large numbers of government hackers that launch attacks against their enemies, including the United States, using methods not unlike those used in the attack against the Times. 

"Hacking is now a regular business,” Nazli Choucri, a professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told GlobalPost. Choucri specializes in researching international cyber relations.

But is the US arsenal equipped to fight back?

“Our values prevent us from the type of recruitment and organization [of hackers] that China has. On the other hand, evidence suggests that US capabilities — offense or defense – are great,” Choucri said.


US Defense Department ramps up recruitment for cyber army

Responding to threats of cyber espionage and state sponsored cyber attack, US Cyber Command looks to expand its forces by 4000.

In a major expansion of the US Defense Department’s Cyber Command, the Pentagon reportedly plans to recruit thousands of code crackers, online security professionals and even hackers to deploy the nation’s largest ever cyber army.

The command will recruit an additional 4,000 troops and civilians in the expansion of Cyber Command’s personnel to respond to the growing threat of cyber espionage, state-sponsored cyber-attacks and hacker collectives, The Washington Post reported. 

“Given the malicious actors that are out there and the development of the technology, in my mind, there’s little doubt that some adversary is going to attempt a significant cyber-attack on the United States at some point,” William J. Lynn III, a former deputy defense secretary who helped fashion the Pentagon’s cyber security strategy, told The Post. 

“The only question is whether we’re going to take the necessary steps like this one to deflect the impact of the attack in advance or… read about the steps we should have taken in some post-attack commission report,” he added. 


Google defies law enforcement, demands warrants for user data

Defying dated US law, Google demands law enforcement demonstrate probable cause before turning over user data.
Google is now demanding that US law enforcement agencies present probable cause search warrants to access user data from Gmail and Google Drive accounts.

Kim Dotcom's Mega site launch mired in controversy and security concerns

Kim Dotcom's latest project, Mega, is struggling to maintain viability as the security community expresses concerns over the site's encryption tools.
“The massive global PR around the #Mega launch is simply to[o] big to handle for our start-up. I apologize for poor service quality,” said Dotcom in a tweet.

Anonymous Mexico targets Defense Department in support of Zapatistas

Publicly aligning itself with the Chiapas-based Zapatista movement, embattled Anonymous Mexico defaced and temporarily brought down websites belonging to Mexico's Department of Defense on Thursday.

Embattled Mexico-based hackers associated with the Anonymous collective hacked, defaced and launched DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against the website belonging to the Mexican Defense Department on Thursday.

Anonymous Mexico also claims to have hacked the ministry’s server, and says it will release the information taken from the network soon. The hail is said to include 60 gigabytes of data, including emails and credit card information.

The Defense Department, however, claimed that no internal networks or information had been affected or compromised during the site’s downtime. 

As part of their defacement of the website, Anonymous Mexico posted a statement in support of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), based in the Mexican state of Chiapas.

The statement expressed the collective’s grievances with the Mexican army and their exploitation of the indigenous poor in the state of Chiapas. 


Old Republic devs to segregate same gender relationships to one gay planet

As Bioware prepares to make Star Wars: The Old Republic free to play, adding same-gender relationships to the game is proving a difficult and controversial endeavor.

Anyone in the know can tell you that Star Wars: The Old Republic (SWTOR) was one of the biggest massively multiplayer online (MMO) flops of the decade.

But is that about to change?

SWTOR is getting some new exposure after changing the game to a free-to-play model and allowing for same-sex relationships between characters in the game.

Bioware, the developers of SWTOR, are well known for their open-minded approach to sexuality in previous games like Dragon Age and Mass Effect. But same-gender relationships were conspicuously absent from SWTOR. Now the developers are having to allow for all characters to enter into same gender romances. That could take a lot of coding. 

“I realize that we promised [same-gender relationships] to you guys and that many of you believed that this would be with a companion character. Unfortunately, this will take a lot more work than we realized at the time and it (like some other pieces of content we talked about earlier in the year) has been delayed as we focused on the changes required to take the game Free-to-Play,” wrote executive producer Jeff Hickman in post to a developers' blog


CES 2013: 'Big Brother' gadgets trade privacy for data

Consumers are expected to volunteer more personal data to use the new gadgets unveiled at this year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
As the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show comes to a close, one thing has become clear – more and more companies are expecting consumers to voluntarily give up their personal information while using the latest gadgets.

In defense of LGBT rights, Anonymous adopts "scorched earth policy" for Ugandan online infrastructure

More Ugandan government sites have fallen under cyber attack by LGBT rights advocates within the Anonymous collective in protest of the country's anti-homosexuality bill.

LGBT rights advocates within the hacker collectives Anonymous and GreySecurity (Gsec) have continued their campaign against Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill as government sites and .ug domains have fallen victim to further online attacks.

The websites belonging to the Ugandan Petroleum Exploration and Production Department of the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development and the Department of Agriculture came under attack by Anonymous on Sunday night, and the attacks have not abated. 

The Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development’s website was defaced with the Anonymous logo and a message from the collective. 

“Citizens and government of Uganda, take heed, Anonymous is calling,” read the message. 

“If nobody else will take action and the government of Uganda refuses to see reason, Anonymous will adopt a scorched earth policy towards Uganda's network infrastructure. You should expect us, for we do not forgive and we will not forget.”