Pokemon Go down: Hacking group claims responsibility for bringing down game’s servers ‘with DDOS attack’

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HYPEBEAST/Independent:

If you’ve been having a little trouble connecting to Pokémon Go today, take some solace in the fact that you aren’t the only one: fresh off a rollout in Europe, the beloved mobile games servers have gone down across both Europe and North America.

Due to the incredible number of Pokémon Go downloads, some trainers are experiencing server connectivity issues. Don’t worry, our team is on it!” explained developer Niantic on its website. However, something slightly more sinister may be at play here: according to reddit, PoodleCorp — who has previously targeted the likes of popular YouTuber Pewdiepie — is actually responsible for the downed servers thanks to a DDoS attack.

PoodleCorp has recently targeted high profile YouTubers such as Pewdiepie, according toGearnuke.

A DDOS, or Distributed Denial of Service, is a way troublemakers crash servers by flooding them with so many requests every second that they cannot cope.

On Saturday, users across the US and Europe complained they were unable to access the game, or that it was freezing.

When news spread of the attack, players took to social media to voice their outrage.

The evidence that North Korea hacked Sony is flimsy

A poster for the movie "The Interview" is taken down by a worker after being pulled from a display case at a Carmike Cinemas movie theater, Wednesday, Dec. 17, 2014, in Atlanta. Georgia-based Carmike Cinemas has decided to cancel its planned showings of "The Interview" in the wake of threats against theatergoers by the Sony hackers.

WIRED:

The New York Times reported that North Korea is “centrally involved” in the hack, citing unnamed U.S. intelligence officials. It’s unclear from the Times report what “centrally involved” means and whether the intelligence officials are saying the hackers were state-sponsored or actually agents of the state. The Times also notes that “It is not clear how the United States came to its determination that the North Korean regime played a central role in the Sony attacks.” The public evidence pointing at the Hermit Kingdom is flimsy.

Other theories of attribution focus on hacktivists—motivated by ideology, politics or something else—or disgruntled insiders who stole the data on their own or assisted outsiders in gaining access to it. Recently, the finger has pointed at China.

In the service of unraveling the attribution mess, we examined the known evidence for and against North Korea.

Attribution Is Difficult If Not Impossible

First off, we have to say that attribution in breaches is difficult. Assertions about who is behind any attack should be treated with a hefty dose of skepticism. Skilled hackers use proxy machines and false IP addresses to cover their tracks or plant false clues inside their malware to throw investigators off their trail. When hackers are identified and apprehended, it’s generally because they’ve made mistakes or because a cohort got arrested and turned informant.

Nation-state attacks often can be distinguished by their level of sophistication and modus operandi, but attribution is no less difficult. It’s easy for attackers to plant false flags that point to North Korea or another nation as the culprit. And even when an attack appears to be nation-state, it can be difficult to know if the hackers are mercenaries acting alone or with state sponsorship—some hackers work freelance and get paid by a state only when they get access to an important system or useful intelligence; others work directly for a state or military. Then there are hacktivists, who can be confused with state actors because their geopolitical interests and motives jibe with a state’s interests.

Distinguishing between all of these can be impossible unless you’re an intelligence agency like the NSA, with vast reach into computers around the world, and can uncover evidence about attribution in ways that law enforcement agents legally cannot.

So let’s look at what’s known.

Sony and FBI Deny Connection to North Korea

First of all, Sony and the FBI have announced that they’ve found no evidence so far to tie North Korea to the attack. 2 New reports, however, indicate that intelligence officials who are not permitted to speak on the record have concluded that the North Koreans are behind the hack. But they have provided no evidence to support this and without knowing even what agency the officials belong to, it’s difficult to know what to make of the claim. And we should point out that intelligence agencies and government officials have jumped to hasty conclusions or misled the public in the past because it was politically expedient.

Nation-state attacks aren’t generally as noisy, or announce themselves with an image of a blazing skeleton posted to infected computers, as occurred in the Sony hack. Nor do they use a catchy nom-de-hack like Guardians of Peace to identify themselves. Nation-state attackers also generally don’t chastise their victims for having poor security, as purported members of GOP have done in media interviews. Nor do such attacks involve posts of stolen data to Pastebin—the unofficial cloud repository of hackers—where sensitive company files belonging to Sony have been leaked. These are all hallmarks of hacktivists—groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, who thrive on targeting large corporations for ideological reasons or just the lulz, or by hackers sympathetic to a political cause.

Despite all of this, media outlets won’t let the North Korea narrative go and don’t seem to want to consider other options. If there’s anything years of Law and Order reruns should tell us, it’s that focusing on a single suspect can lead to exclusionary bias where clues that contradict the favored theory get ignored.

The Interview a Red Herring?

Initial and hasty media reports about the attackers pointed to cyberwarriors from North Korea, bent on seeking revenge for the Sony movie The Interview. This was based on a complaint North Korea made to the United Nations last July about the Seth Rogen and James Franco flick, which was originally slated to be released in October before being changed to Christmas Day. North Korea’s UN ambassador said the comedy, about a TV host and his producer who get embroiled in an ill-conceived CIA plot to assassinate North Korean President Kim Jong-un, was an act of war that promoted terrorism against North Korea.

“To allow the production and distribution of such a film on the assassination of an incumbent head of a sovereign state should be regarded as the most undisguised sponsoring of terrorism as well as an act of war,” UN ambassador Ja Song Nam wrote the UN secretary general in a letter. “The United States authorities should take immediate and appropriate actions to ban the production and distribution of the aforementioned film; otherwise, it will be fully responsible for encouraging and sponsoring terrorism.”

In other statements, North Korea threatened a “resolute and merciless” response if the U.S. didn’t ban the film.

But in their initial public statement, whoever hacked Sony made no mention of North Korea or the film. And in an email sent to Sony by the hackers, found in documents they leaked, there is also no mention of North Korea or the film. The email was sent to Sony executives on Nov. 21, a few days before the hack went public. Addressed to Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton, Chairwoman Amy Pascal and other executives, it appears to be an attempt at extortion, not an expression of political outrage or a threat of war.

“[M]onetary compensation we want,” the email read. “Pay the damage, or Sony Pictures will be bombarded as a whole. You know us very well. We never wait long. You’d better behave wisely.”

To make matters confusing, however, the email wasn’t signed by GOP or Guardians of Peace, who have taken credit for the hack, but by “God’sApstls,” a reference that also appeared in one of the malicious files used in the Sony hack.

A person purporting to be a Guardians of Peace spokesperson then emphasized again, in an interview with CSO Online published Dec. 1, that they are “an international organization … not under direction of any state.” The GOP’s members include, they wrote, “famous figures in the politics and society from several nations such as United States, United Kingdom and France.”

The person also said the Seth Rogen film was not the motive for the hack, but that the film was problematic nonetheless in that it exemplified Sony’s greed and fed political turmoil in the region:

“Our aim is not at the film The Interview as Sony Pictures suggests,” the person told CSO Online. “But it is widely reported as if our activity is related to The Interview. This shows how dangerous film The Interview is. The Interview is very dangerous enough to cause a massive hack attack. Sony Pictures produced the film harming the regional peace and security and violating human rights for money. The news with The Interview fully acquaints us with the crimes of Sony Pictures. Like this, their activity is contrary to our philosophy. We struggle to fight against such greed of Sony Pictures.”

It was only on December 8, after a week of media stories connecting North Korea and the Sony film to the hack, that the attackers made their first reference to the film in one of their public announcements. But they continued to trounce the theory that North Korea was behind their actions, and they denied ownership of an email sent to Sony staffers after the hack, threatening them and their families with harm if they didn’t denounce their employer.

At this point, it’s quite possible the media are guilty of inspiring the hacker’s narrative, since it was only after news reports tying the attack to the Sony film that GOP began condemning the movie in public statements. This week the hackers have pounced on that narrative, using it to escalate the stakes by making oblique terrorist threats against the film’s New York premiere and theaters scheduled to screen it Christmas day. Even if members of GOP lack the means or intent to pull off a terrorist attack on their own, they’ve now created an open invitation for opportunistic attackers to do so in their name—in essence, escalating their crimes and influence to a level no other hackers have achieved to date.

So why do some people continue to claim that North Korea is the culprit? There are two forensic discoveries that fuel this assertion, but they are flimsy.

Evidence: Malicious Files Point to Possible Korean Speakers

Four files that researchers have examined, which appear to be connected to the hack, seem to have been compiled on a machine that was using the Korean language. This refers to the encoding language on a computer; computer users can configure the encoding language so that content on their machine renders in a language they speak. But an attacker can set the language on a compilation machine to any language they want and, researchers note, can even manipulate information about the encoded language after a file is compiled to throw investigators off.

Evidence: Files Show Up In Other Hacks

The Sony attackers didn’t just siphon data from the studio’s networks, they also used a wiper component to destroy data. To do the wiping, they used a driver from a commercially-available product that had been used by other attackers before. The product, called RawDisk, uses drivers that allow administrators to securely delete data from hard drives or for forensic purposes to access memory.

The same product was used in similarly destructive attacks that hit Saudi Arabia and South Korea. Since some people have claimed those were both nation-state attacks—U.S. officials blamed Iran for the Saudi Arabia attack; South Korea blamed China and North Korea for its attack—people assume the Sony hack is also a nation-state attack. But the evidence pointing to those other attacks as nation-state attacks is also flimsy.

The 2012 attack in Saudi Arabia, dubbed Shamoon, wiped data from about 30,000 computers belonging to Saudi Aramco, the state-owned oil conglomerate. Although U.S. officials blamed Iran for it, researchers found that malware used in the attack contained sloppy code riddled with errors and attributed it to hacktivists with political motives rather than a nation-state. The malware displayed part of an image of a burning U.S. flag on infected machines before they were wiped. What’s more, a group calling itself the Cutting Sword of Justice took credit for the hack. “This is a warning to the tyrants of this country and other countries that support such criminal disasters with injustice and oppression,” they wrote in a Pastebin post. “We invite all anti-tyranny hacker groups all over the world to join this movement. We want them to support this movement by designing and performing such operations, if they are against tyranny and oppression.”

That sounds like a call to recruit other like-minded activists who might also be opposed to, say, a “criminal” company like Sony.

Last year, a similarly destructive attack, dubbed Dark Seoul by researchers, struck computers at banks and media companies in South Korea. The attack used a logic bomb, set to go off at a specific time, that wiped computers in a coordinated fashion. The attack wiped the hard drives and master boot records of computers at three banks and two media companies simultaneously, reportedly putting some ATMs out of operation and preventing South Koreans from withdrawing cash from them. As with the Sony and Saudi Aramco hacks, the attackers used a RawDisk driver for their attack. They also left an image of a skull on the web site of the South Korean president’s office. And an IP address used for one of the attackers’ command-and-control servers matches an IP address the Sony hackers used for one of their command servers.

South Korea alternately blamed North Korea for the attack as well as China—since an IP address in China appeared to be part of the campaign. Officials later retracted the allegations.

The same group behind this attack are said to be behind other attacks in South Korea that occurred on the anniversary of the Korean War.

OK, So Who Hacked Sony?

Regardless of whether the Sony, Saudi Aramco and South Korea attacks are related, the evidence indicating they’re nation-state attacks is circumstantial. And all of the same evidence could easily point to hacktivists. Our money is on the latter.

This is likely a group of various actors who coalesce and disperse, as the Anonymous hackers did, based on their common interests. But even with that said, there is another possibility with regard to the Sony hack: that the studio’s networks weren’t invaded by a single group but by many, some with political interests at heart and others bent on extortion. Therefore, we can’t rule out the possibility that nation-state attackers were also in Sony’s network or that a nation like North Korea was supportive of some of these hackers, since they shared similar anger over Sony. Another interesting scenario was recently posited by Deadline, suggesting that China may have initiated a breach at Sony during business negotiations with the studio last year, before handing off control to freelance hackers.

‘The Interview’s’ Kim Jong Un actor, Randall Park, knew it was ‘insane’

Randall Park
Randall Park says video of Kim Jong Un with Dennis Rodman — and Forest Whitaker’s performance in “The Last King of Scotland” — informed his performance as the North Korea dictator in “The Interview.” 

Los Angeles Times: (By Josh Rottenberg)

Before signing on to play North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the comedy “The Interview,” actor Randall Park understandably had a few concerns. After all, this wasn’t just another outrageous Seth Rogen comedy; this was an outrageous Seth Rogen comedy about a plot to assassinate an actual dictator who has actual nuclear weapons at his disposal.

Before he fully dove in, Park wanted to run the idea past two very important people in his life: his South Korean-born parents.

I was super-excited to do it, but I still felt a little nervous about it and I felt like my parents would be a good way for me to test if this was OK,” said Park, who was born and raised in Los Angeles. “They’re immigrants, and they understand what’s going on over there a little better than me.

“As soon as I brought it up to them, they thought it was hilarious.”

With “The Interview” now at the center of a headline-grabbing international incident, not everyone seems to agree.

To say that “The Interview,” co-directed by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, has become the subject of controversy is a massive understatement. In June, a North Korea official branded the film — which centers on a harebrained attempt by a tabloid TV host and producer (James Franco and Rogen, respectively) to assassinate Kim — “an act of war.” Many believe the country may have orchestrated last month’s devastating cyberattack on Sony Pictures as retaliation for making comedic hay out of the killing of its leader, resulting in the release of embarrassing internal emails that have become the talk of Hollywood.

But up to this point Park, who in a very literal sense has a key role in this whole affair, has hardly been heard from at all.

On a blustery late November afternoon — coincidentally the very same afternoon that news began to emerge of a mysterious attack on Sony’s computer system — the actor, 40, sat down to talk about the film, which is scheduled to hit theaters on Christmas.

Previously best known as Gov. Danny Chung on the HBO comedy series “Veep,” Park, who didn’t begin his acting career in earnest until he was 28, hasn’t done a ton of interviews. With blaring headlines about security breaches and leaked emails still days away, this was the first time he was speaking in any great depth about “The Interview” — and he was clearly happy to do it.

I’m just so thrilled to be a part of this movie,” he said. “I want to do as much as I can to help.” (After the leaks, Park was unavailable to comment further on the Sony hacking.)

In the original script he was sent, Park said, the role was not specifically Kim but “a vague North Korean dictator.” Still, he was well aware that the film would push some serious buttons with the regime in Pyongyang.

I thought it was insane but a great idea,” he said. “It’s the type of thing that, if one thing is off about the movie, it just won’t work. But that’s how Seth and Evan approach things in general. They take big risks. When I got the part, I remember thinking, ‘This will be a great way to let people learn what’s going on over there because I don’t think enough people know.'”

'The Interview' premiere

Before taking on the role, Park — whose mother is retired from a job at UCLA and whose father works at a souvenir shop on Hollywood Boulevard — discussed the movie with people he knew in the local Korean community. Los Angeles’ population of ethnic Koreans is the largest in the United States, numbering roughly 60,000 as of 2008. Park — who grew up in West L.A. and whose grasp of the Korean language, he said, is “pretty bad” — wanted to gauge what the reaction within that community might be.

I talked to friends who are deep in the Korean American community here, friends who are leaders of different subsections of the community,” he said. “I asked them what they thought and felt, and they all seemed to think it was a great movie idea. That helped.”

Park had initially been suggested for the role of Kim by director Nick Stoller, who had cast him in small roles in “The Five-Year Engagement” and “Neighbors.” “Nick was like, ‘I guarantee you’re going to hire him,'” said Rogen.

In fact, Rogen and Goldberg were so blown away by Park’s audition that they cast him almost on the spot without seeing anyone else. “He was the only person we auditioned or discussed,” Goldberg said. “He just delivered.”

In the film, Kim is portrayed as simultaneously a megalomaniacal despot and a vulnerable, overgrown man-child with daddy issues who fawns over Franco’s Dave Skylark. Though very little video footage of Kim exists, Park sought out whatever information he could find to help craft his performance.

There was an episode of ‘Vice’ on HBO where they went to North Korea with Dennis Rodman — I watched that a lot,” he said. “Seeing Kim’s behavior around Dennis Rodman was really telling. I know Kim Jong Un is obsessed with the NBA and he looks nervous around Dennis Rodman — he’s kind of avoiding eye contact. He’s trying to be a leader but also losing it a little bit. That really informed how I approached the character.”

In shaping his take on Kim, Park — who put on more than 20 pounds for the role — was aware he was walking a fine line. He didn’t want to create a cartoonish version of the leader, but he didn’t want to make him too sympathetic either.

We talked a lot about making sure this guy was real,” he said. “I never wanted to play a caricature. But I did think, ‘Am I humanizing him too much?’ Because he doesn’t deserve to be humanized too much.”
For further inspiration, Park studied Forest Whitaker’s Oscar-winning turn as Idi Amin in the 2006 film “The Last King of Scotland.” “I had that on repeat while I was working on this movie,” he said.

Park was at his home in the Valley, where he lives with his wife, actress Jae Suh Park, and their 2-year-old daughter, when he heard the news in late June that North Korea was threatening “a decisive and merciless countermeasure” over the film. Concerned friends called to make sure he was OK, but he wasn’t frightened.

I was kind of expecting it,” he said. Making threats “is kind of their M.O. It’s what they do.”

At some point, Park said, Rogen and Goldberg told him that it was quite possible North Korea had already seen the movie because “they are so good at hacking and getting into things.” But he didn’t think their response would go much further than alarming-sounding bluster.

I know that North Korea, although they seem crazy, they’re smart and there’s no way they would make policy based on a comedy movie,” he said.

Even as the firestorm over “The Interview” continues, Park is already looking ahead to his next major role as the patriarch of a Taiwanese American family in the upcoming ABC sitcom “Fresh Off the Boat.” Slated to begin airing in February, the show is the first network series in 20 years — since Margaret Cho‘s “All-American Girl” — to focus on an Asian American.

It’s a lot of pressure,” Park said. “We’re conscious of the community and we want to do right by it. We don’t want to delve into stereotypes. Hopefully people will like the show in the community and outside the community.

In the more immediate term, though, Park was thinking about one very specific audience member and what he might think of “The Interview.” He wasn’t so sure he’d hate it — after all, Adolf Hitler was a fan of Charlie Chaplin and is said to have watched Chaplin’s 1940 satire “The Great Dictator” twice.

I think it’s a great movie and aside from the obvious stuff — like him getting killed — I think Kim might like it,” Park said. “I don’t know. He’s kind of a cool character, you know?

'The Interview' premiere

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Hacker group “Anonymous” takes down Japanese prefecture’s website to protest dolphin killing

 

RocketNews 24:

 

anonymous

International hacking group “Anonymous” has stated that it breached and shut down the official Wakayama Prefecture website earlier today as a taste of what may come should local fishermen continue to hunt dolphins. The prefecture is home to Taiji, the coastal town that shot to infamy in 2010 following an exposé in the film The Cove, which documented the mass slaughter of thousands of dolphins that takes place in the area each year.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 11.15.33 AM

At 9:05 a.m. today, a message from Twitter user @YourAnonPriest stated that Taiji (which is, in fact, a city rather than a prefecture) was “offline”. Animal news site The Dodo reports that when checked the website was indeed inaccessible, though it came back online a few minutes later, with the same Twitter user stating that the intrusion had been a “warning”, and hinting that more attacks could follow should the Japanese government not bow to pressure and put an end to the hunt.

Screen Shot 2014-01-21 at 11.25.03 AM

Dolphin and whale hunting has been a part of Taiji City’s heritage since the 17th century, with dolphin hunts taking place each year between September and April. Animal rights groups have long protested the annual killings, which involve herding migrating dolphins into a narrow cove before trapping and slowly killing them, but Taiji spokespersons, particularly following the release of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, protested that the fishermen in the area are acting within the law, and contested much of scientific evidence put forward by the film.

Source: The DodoTwitter Wikipedia

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Hacker group “Anonymous” takes down Japanese prefecture’s website to protest dolphin killing