Category Archives: News

Sony Offers Directors and Writers Guilds Identity Theft Protection

Sony Pictures Entertainment is attempting to recover from a mass hacking that took place earlier this month. The hackers, reportedly from North Korea, sent threatening messages to the studio and to movie fans who were hoping to see the film “The Interview” on Christmas Day. The hackers leaked sensitive personal data, embarrassing emails, and subjected numerous employees to identity theft through the release of Social Security numbers along with a list of high-ranking officials within Sony.

In an attempt to try and make matters right within Sony, the company has offered identity theft protection to directors and writers who work for the studio. Identity theft protection will be offered through AllClear ID. The service was offered to Sony’s 3,803 employees when the massive leaks began. Sony is now offering it to the Directors Guild of America and the Writers Guild of America West.

“The DGA supports Sony in its efforts to combat any ill effects of the attack on DGA members,” the DGA told Variety. “We do not know whether or whose personal information may have been compromised, but Sony is offering one year of identity protection at no charge to any present or former employee who requests it.”

Sony is offering the identity theft protection service for one year, at no charge, to present or former employees who request it and who fit certain criteria.

The three largest movie chains in the nation canceled the Christmas screening of “The Interview” and there are currently no plans for when the film will be released. There is no reports about whether it will get to the big screen or if it will go direct to video.

 

Hackers Win Round Against Sony: The Interview Pulled from Theaters

Hackers have won a round against Sony Pictures Entertainment this week after a devastating cyber attact. Sony pulled “The Interview” from theaters nation wide after the hackers spread fear throughout the entertainment industry. “The Interview” was to be released in theaters on Christmas Day. Sony said they would no longer hold screenings of the film in any of their theaters.

U.S. intelligence has linked the cyber attack on Sony to the North Korean government. The film portrays the fictional assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. It is believed that the hackers from North Korea were given the order to hack Sony’s computer system targetting sensitive data including emails, financial records and salaries of Sony’s top stars.

It is unclear whether “The Interview” will be released soon. The hackers made threats against Sony by promising movie goers with a “bitter fate” should they head to theaters to screen the film. The hackers threated a 9/11-like attack on all movie theaters that screen the Seth Rogen and James Franco comedy.

The warning reads:

“We will clearly show it to you at the very time and places “The Interview” be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to.

  • Soon all the world will see what an awful movie Sony Pictures Entertainment has made.
  • The world will be full of fear.
  • Remember the 11th of September 2001.
  • We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time.
  • (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)
  • Whatever comes in the coming days is called by the greed of Sony Pictures Entertainment.
  • All the world will denounce the SONY.”

In addition to the terroristic threat, the hackers released the content of files called “Michael Lynton” (CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment) which included embarrassing emails and sensitive personal data. The tactics used by the hackers worked to caused the nations three largest movie chains to cancel showings of “The Interview” with an unknown release date.

Sony has no current plans to release the film either to theaters or direct to video.

Personal files containing financial data mistakenly sold at Goodwill stores

As the holiday approaches I begin to clean out my house.  I do this for several reasons.  First, I know that with the holidays there is going be some presents underneath the tree that are going to need so space to be stored in when they are not being played with.  I also know that especially during the winter months and holiday season charitable organizations are in big demand and can use all the help they can get in the form of monetary as well as physical donations to help meet the needs of the hundreds that call upon them.  Last but not least, I don’t like anything to go to waste and the coat my daughter wore four times (it doesn’t get really cold here in Houston) and has now outgrown doesn’t belong in the trash, but it does belong on another little girl who could use one.  But with all this peace on Earth and good will towards man, it’s important to pay attention to what’s going out the door and into the hands of others.

We have talked before about the importance of clearing your electronics like cell phones and computers of information, personal data and stored information and images.  But what I never imagined I would find is that important papers could be lost and then found again, but quite possibly the wrong person as many of us clean out closets and make donations.

NBC News recently reported about a purchase made at an Indiana Goodwill Outlet Store.  Edith Watson purchased a box during a bulk sale not knowing what it contained, but they were selling it for pennies per pound.  Hoping to find something good, she realized after she got home that if she was an identity thief she definitely would have “struck it rich” as the entire box contained document after document of financial information, social security numbers, credit card bills, medical records and more. After reporting it to her local televisions station a look at other Goodwill locations occurred, finding that this was not a singular incident.

Yahoo News reports:

Goodwill’s Marketing Vice President Cindy Graham admitted their mistake and told WTHR, “We do take this very seriously…They don’t want us to have it and we don’t really want to have it either.” Policy changes are on the way after the charity completes their internal investigation. Cindy Graham said, “We’re going to take a look and see how we can prevent that from happening. Our process would have been and should have been and will be, ‘Let’s shred this.’” She also adds that Goodwill encourages all donors to be cognizant of what they are donating so that sensitive documents do not mistakenly end up at their retail stores.

How did this happen?  Several different ways including cleaning out the home of a deceased family member and the cleaning service not properly disposing of or passing the information on to the family. In another case boxes marked for storage were sent to Goodwill instead of storage.  Apparently theses boxes were never inspected by Goodwill, simply placed in the outlet stores.

Graham told the Indy Star, “We’re looking at every one of our processes,” she said, “and seeing what needs to be done differently so that there isn’t a gap and that material that was donated doesn’t get into the wrong hands.”

I think it’s happened to everyone. You are cleaning out drawers and dressers, closets and desks and make stacks of to go, to stay to donate.  I know in our home one of my daughter’s beloved characters for her homemade videos were accidentally donated.  Not exactly on the same level as letting my personal documents out of my hands, but it’s just a small example of how anyone can make a mistake.

So, keep in mind this holiday season as you show goodwill toward men to double check your boxes, computers, cell phones and other items for anything personal.  It’s one thing to be charitable, it’s another thing to have your whole identity stolen.

U.S. Senate Launches Anti-Fraud Hotline

Victims of fraud are increasing on a daily basis. Everyone is a target, but some people are more at risk than others. Elderly people, lonely people, and immigrants are often targets of fraudulent activity. Scams to get credit card and other financial information include email scams for moving large amounts of money, phone calls asking for financial information because a loved one is in trouble, and online matchmaking gone horribly wrong.

People have lost their livelihoods by falling victim to these scams and schemes. The United States Senate wants to put a stop to them and wants to help victims of fraud, especially elderly victims.  A new anti-fraud hotline has been unveiled to make it easier for senior citizens to report suspected fraud and to receive assistance.

“If you Continue reading U.S. Senate Launches Anti-Fraud Hotline

New video sneak peek at ‘The Fifth Estate’

thefifthestate

We talk in here a great deal about online security and what can happen with that security is breached. Both good and bad things can happen. We have also heard a great deal in the media about “The Fifth Estate.” Not exactly a new concept, but one which is gaining in momentum:

***The Fifth Estate refers to citizen journalism. “Fifth Estate” is used to describe media outlets (including the blogosphere) that see themselves in opposition to mainstream media (the official press), any class or group in society other than the clergy (First Estate), the nobility (Second Estate), the commoners (Third Estate) and the press (Fourth Estate). It has been used to describe civil society, the poor or the proletariat.***

We have heard a great deal about WikiLeaks, which has forever changed the way people view information and data, both the release of it as well as the hiding it.  “The Fifth Estate” is a new thriller movie which is based on the real events.

Official description . . . “WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg (Daniel Brühl) team up to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful. On a shoestring, they create a platform that allows whistleblowers to anonymously leak covert data, shining a light on the dark recesses of government secrets and corporate crimes. Soon, they are breaking more hard news than the world’s most legendary media organizations combined. But when Assange and Berg gain access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history, they battle each other and a defining question of our time: what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society—and what are the costs of exposing them?”

I know I’m excited to see this side of the story and where actions like these may lead.

 

THE FIFTH ESTATE opens in theatres everywhere on October 18th!

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American’s Under Surveillance: NSA admits tracking cell phone locations

The National Security Agency (N.S.A.) has started to come clean about tracking Americans cell phone data and what data was being collected. NSA admits to tracking the cell phone location of Americans in a test pilot project in 2010 and 2011.

According to the New York Times, “it was unclear how many Americans’ locational data was collected as part of the project, whether the agency has held on to that information or why the program did not go forward.”

NSA  claimed that they never moved forward with the program.  The “experiment” pilot project was to test how location information would move into the massive databases containing other information on Americans.  Cell phone location is considered to be one of the most sensitive data that a cell phone emits, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.  Since most people carry their cell phones everywhere they go it is possible that the location data tracking could lead to the government knowing most intimate daily habits and movements of not only the person whose phone is being tracked but friends and family members whom the person had come into contact with throughout the day.

The biggest problem with NSA’s admission of the test pilot program is that it admitted to doing an illegal activity.  NSA’s chief Keith Alexander said during a Senate hearing, “Under Section 215, NSA is not receiving cell site location data and has no current plans to do so.”  The recent admission of past collection clearly violated Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

In order to counter-act negative reaction to the admission, Director of National Intelligence (DNI) James Clapper told Congress that if they started their location recollection program they would inform the intelligence committee and FISA court. That means that Americans could still be kept in the dark if the program, a clear violation of the Patriot Act and one that brings up Fourth Amendment issues, were to become restarted.

I feel safer already, don’t you?

FISA Court Releases Opinion Upholding NSA Phone Program

The federal surveillance court has released a declassified opinion that upholds the National Security Agency’s (NSA) phone program. The FISA court decided that the gathering of billions of phone records for counterterrorism purposes was constitutional and justified.

Gathering of “all call detail records” of phone companies by NSA is justifiable as long as the gathering of the data is relevant to an authorized investigation. The most significant part of the ruling is that it mentions that the data is justifiable if the government can show that there is an authorized investigation into unknown terrorists who may be in the United States. This begs the question of how there could possibly be an authorized investigation into unknown terroristic persons on reasonable grounds without the collection of the phone data.

According to the opinion, the government only needs “reasonable grounds to believe” that the phone records will be relevant to the investigation in order to legally collect the phone records.  The burden of proof the government needs is much lower than that needed in a criminal investigation.  The court claims this is because the goal is not to solve a crime but to prevent a terrorist attack.

Critics claim that the opinion released by the court is not justifiable by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) or the Constitution.  Jameel Jaffer, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director, told the Washington Post, “This isn’t a judicial opinion in the conventional sense. It’s a document that appears to have been cobbled together over the last few weeks in an effort to justify a decision that was made seven years ago. I don’t know of any precedent for that, and it raises a lot of questions.”

Privacy issues have come into question when Edward Snowden leaked information about the NSA spy program. The government’s stance from the beginning has been that the broad collection of data is needed to find unknown terrorist operatives in the United States.  It is still unclear how much scope the NSA program actually has over the data it has collected from billions of homes across the nation.

And, now we also hear about  . . . N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

Dove’s Trojan Horse Shaming Potential Body-Shamers

Consider this whole new form of a Trojan Horse as it attempts to do good.

Dove is waging a war against the unrealistic depictions of women in advertisements. The company has been using its long-running “Real Beauty” campaign to fight the false images portrayed in ads and commercials. One of the latest methods Dove is using to fight the war on body-shaming is one that body-shamers already use –Photoshop.

Dove is fighting fire with fire by using photoshop to “hit perpetrators of such ads right at the source –their computers.” Dove Canada’s latest endeavor is a Photoshop creation by Ogilvy Toronto called “Beautify”. It is a downloadable file that Continue reading Dove’s Trojan Horse Shaming Potential Body-Shamers

Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy

Bradley Manning was found not guilty of “aiding the enemy” by a military judge on Tuesday, July 29. Private Manning became notable for his release of hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic documents. Manning released the documents to WikiLeaks for publication in 2009 and 2010.

Manning was arrested in May 2010. He was charged with 1 count of aiding the enemy, 9 counts of failure to obey a lawful order or regulation, and 24 counts of violating the General article of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The last 24 charges included violations of the Espionage Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and Embezzlement and Theft of Public Money, Property or Records.

The total number of counts that Manning was charged with was 34. If he had been found guilty of “aiding the enemy” he could have potentially faced the death penalty.

While the court-martial judge, Col. Denise R. Lind,  ruled that Continue reading Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy

The Fifth Estate Reveals Quest to Expose Deceptions and Corruptions of Power

the fifth estateBeing a watchdog and exposing the privileged and powerful was the idea behind WikiLeaks. The website which allowed whistle blowers to anonymously leak covert data shined a light on government secrets and corporate crimes. DreamWorks Pictures’ The Fifth Estate is a dramatic thriller based upon WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange and his colleague Daniel Domscheit-Berg’s quest to become underground watchdogs of the privileged and powerful.

The Fifth Estate highlights one of the most fiercely debated organizations –WikiLeaks– and focuses on the story of Assange and Berg gaining access to the biggest trove of confidential intelligence documents in U.S. history. The Fifth Estate asks “what are the costs of keeping secrets in a free society –and what are the costs of exposing them?”

The WikiLeaks platform rocked the media and journalism community. It began reporting and breaking more hard news than the world’s most legendary media organizations combined. The website exposed over 76,000 documents about the war in Afghanistan, a set of almost 400,000 documents called the “Iraq War Logs,” mapped over 109,000 deaths in significant attacks by insurgents in Iraq, and published files related to the prisoners detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. And that was just the start.

The film “The Fifth Estate” presented by DreamWorks Pictures and Reliance Entertainment is based on Continue reading The Fifth Estate Reveals Quest to Expose Deceptions and Corruptions of Power