Top Stories for the Week of December 9, 2014

  • Episode 377
  • December 9, 2014
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Here are the stories we're following for the week of Tuesday December 9, 2014


The recent Sony Pictures hack attack has revealed a fatal flaw in the company's security practices: storing private information in unprotected Microsoft Excel files!

The situation at Sony Pictures following a hack attack is much worse than originally thought, with personal information, social security numbers and even home addresses being compromized not just for regular staff, but even actors.

The situation surrounding a recent Sony Pictures hack continues to worsen for the studio, with a new batch of documents having been released by the hackers that includes thousands of usernames and passwords.

This includes a file directory called simply “Password” which includes, according to Buzzfeed, “139 Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, zip files, and PDFs containing thousands of passwords to Sony Pictures’ internal computers, social media accounts, and web services accounts.” One file the site found included hundreds of “clearly labeled” Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, and Twitter usernames and passwords for “major motion picture social accounts.” Others are for corporate news and research services and more.

The hackers, a group calling itself Guardians of Peace, have also released personal information garnered from the attack. That includes the Social Security numbers of more than 47,000 current and former employees, as well as stars (including Sylvester Stallone, director Judd Apatow and actress Rebel Wilson), actors, freelancers and others. According to Market Watch, an analysis of 33,000 Sony documents by data-security consulting firm Identity Finder LLC found “personal data, including salaries and home addresses, posted online for people who stopped working at Sony Pictures as far back as 2000 and one who started in 1955.”

The hack has once again brought to the spotlight the risk that companies face in the digital age, where highly sensitive corporate and personal information can be stolen -- especially when not properly secured.

Market Watch reports that “Much of the data analyzed by Identity Finder was stored in Microsoft Excel files without password protection”.


IBM hopes to reuse old laptop batteries to power LED lights in the slums of India.

IBM has found a way to reduce e-waste, help less fortunate and provide cheap power. Sounds like a win-win.

IBM's India-based research team has claimed that old laptop batteries still have enough life in them to power homes in slums.

An IBM study analysed a sample of discarded batteries and found 70% had enough power to keep an LED light on more than four hours a day for a year.

Researchers said using discarded batteries is cheaper than existing power options, and also helps deal with the mounting e-waste problem.

The concept was trialled in the Indian city of Bangalore this year.

The adapted power packs are expected to prove popular with street vendors, who are not on the electric grid, as well as poor families living in slums.

If the recycled units, which would last a year, are made in sufficiently large volume, researchers estimate the price per unit at just 600 rupees... just under 10 US dollars.

The researchers are aiming to help the approximately 400 million people in India who are off grid.


Chipmaker Imagination have unveiled a rival for the Raspberry Pi micro computer, and it starts shipping next month.

British chip designer Imagination has produced a barebones computer to compete with the Raspberry Pi.

British chip designer Imagination has produced a barebones computer to compete with the Raspberry Pi.

Called the Creator CI20, the board has a more powerful processor than the Pi, more memory and more onboard storage.

For its graphics, it uses a version of the Imagination chip that is also found inside Apple's iPad tablet.

The small computer enters a growing and competitive market, with the Raspberry Pi already having sold almost four millions units.

Like its rivals, the CI20 can run many different versions of the open source operating system Linux and it can also run the latest edition of Google's Android mobile operating system.

It also has built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth for wireless data connections. By contrast, the BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi B+ devices have only Ethernet connectors built in.

Tony King-Smith, a spokesman for Imagination, said the CI20 was aimed at people who wanted a "high-performance" board for their development projects.

The CI20 will cost 50 pounds--around $65--and can be ordered now, though the first units will not be sent out until next month.


The best of the BioShock series may be coming to Linux, if the Steam Database is any indicator.

In Linux gaming news, BioShock Infinite may be coming to Linux.

BioShock Infinite is considered the best game in the series and is one of the most acclaimed titles launched in 2013, and by the looks of it, it's coming to Linux.

BioShock Infinite features a very interesting storyline and it was brought to life by one of the characters in the game, Elizabeth.

The studio has been praised for implementing a very "human" interaction between the main character and Elizabeth, which made all the difference for this title.

2K Games has already brought a number of the titles in its catalog to the open source platform, like the Borderlands series, the Civilization series, and even the latest XCOM. It was just a matter of time until some of the other titles would also get the same treatment.

The Steam Database is a record of data describing every Steam game and subscription provided by Valve for the Steam service. Usually, the new entries are first visible in the Steam Database before their official launch and they should be released on all the supported platforms at once, but there is no guarantee that they will actually happen.

That said, the Linux version of BioShock Infinite is listed, so we're very hopeful.


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