Talos Principle Traps Pirating Gamers in An Elevator

Every day hundreds of thousands of games are downloaded from various torrent sites. While it can be quite a challenge to get a pirated game working, most will play just fine.

The same is true for Croteam’s latest release The Talos Principle. A few days ago a pirated copy of the puzzle title surfaced online which initially appeared to work as a regular game.

However, the fun didn’t last long as the developers had previously embedded a feature that traps free-riding pirates in a virtual elevator.

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Croteam acknowledged the feature on social media by retweeting a mention of the puzzled Steam user, which must have been good for a few laughs among the developers.

Even more so, it probably led to a few extra sales as well. Apparently some pirates were hooked enough to get a legit copy of the game on Steam, to continue playing without any hassles.

“I hit the bug where the elevators stopped working correctly, so I bought the game on Steam and was able to import my save,” an anonymous user wrote on a popular torrent site, adding that it’s been worth the money.

Link (Torrentfreak)

This is one reason why you shouldn’t trust biometrics

Security researchers claimed to have cloned the thumbprint of the German Defense Minister by photographing her hand at a press conference.

In a presentation at the annual Chaos Computer Club hacker gathering in Hamburg, Germany, biometrics specialist Jan Krisller – known in the community as “Starbug” – explained how he’d taken a variety of photographs of Ursula von der Leyen when she gave a press briefing in October.

Krisller used a lens with a focal length of 200mm and shot the snaps from six feet away, he said. He then used commercial fingerprint software from Verifinger to map out the contours of the Minister’s thumbprint.

To get that into something that could be used on a biometric scanner, Krisller employed the same technique he demonstrated at the conference last year, where he successfully defeated Apple’s TouchID fingerprint lock. The technique, first used in the Gummi Bear attack of 2002, employs digital photographs, flexible materials, and laser printers to create false fingerprints.

Link (The Register)

Sony About to Get Sued For Pirating Music in The Interview

The way things are panning out, the Sony movie The Interview is on course to become one of the most controversial movies of all time.

The comedy, which depicts the violent death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, made headlines worldwide when the so-called Guardians of Peace hacking group threatened Sony if it was released. Facing what amounted to a “terrorist” threat, theaters all around the U.S. backed away from showing The Interview in the week leading up to Christmas.

After pulling the movie completely, Sony had a change of heart and on Christmas Eve released the music online via YouTube, Google Play and Xbox Live. Predictably the movie was quickly gobbled up by pirates, with the latest figures suggesting that in just two days the movie has been downloaded 1.5 million times.

But while Sony deals with rampant piracy issues at one end, it’s now facing copyright infringement allegations of its own. According to new claims, Sony used copyrighted music in The Interview without permission and without compensating an artist.

Link (Torrentfreak)

UK Cinema Calls Police on Kids With iPhones Over Piracy Concerns

The movie industry sees the illegal recording of movies as one of the biggest piracy threats and for years has gone to extremes to stop it.

It started well over a decade ago when visitors began sneaking handheld camcorders into theaters. These big clunkers were easy to spot, but as time passed the recording devices became smaller and easier to hide.

While recording a movie for strictly personal use is not illegal in UK cinemas (despite industry efforts to have the law changed), theaters continue to outlaw the use of recording devices. Most recently, Google Glass was banned, and phones and tablets need to be switched off as well.

In a code of conduct the movie industry and cinemas have agreed that employees will take immediate action when they spot someone with a recording device, but some cinema staff take these obligations way too far.

At a Cineworld cinema in Brighton Marina, UK, employees dialed the national 999 emergency number after they spotted a group of 12-year-old girls with iPhones and iPads at a showing of The Hunger Games.

The girls, accused of recording parts of the movie, were hauled outside where two police cars rushed towards the scene with flashing lights.

Link (Torrentfreak)

Irony 101: Study Ethics with Legal Ace Who Sanctioned NSA Wiretapping, CIA Torture

Waterboarding: Yes or no? It’s OK to selectively violate the Geneva Convention, right? Spying on Americans is illegal, but aren’t rules made to be broken?

The world is a confusing place and it’s hard for young people to answer complicated questions like these on their own. Fortunately, students at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, have Professor Robert Deitz to help them navigate the contemporary moral morass. “All of us are familiar with basic ethical notions,” he writes in the syllabus for his Spring 2015 course, Ethical Challenges in Public Policy. “We learn from childhood the idea that some conduct is right and other conduct is not right.”

How’d Deitz get so smart about ethics? He’s magna cum laude from Harvard (like President Obama) and then spent eights years as General Counsel at the National Security Agency, serving as the official Yes Man for General Michael Hayden, and after that three years as his Senior Councillor at the Central Intelligence Agency until 2009. At the former post Deitz rubber-stamped NSA surveillance. At the latter, he sought to derail an independent investigation by then-CIA Inspector General John Helgerson into the agency’s torture and rendition of terrorism suspects.

After retiring from public service Deitz joined GMU as Distinguished Visiting Professor & CIA Officer-in-Residence, and he’s now on the regular faculty. In his course syllabus Deitz (also author of “Congratulations — You Just Got Hired: Don’t Screw It Up”) promises that “ethical matters of current interest will be discussed in class.”

Link (Techdirt)

Iowa Dept. Of Transportation Announces Plan To Give Police Officers, Security Personnel Full Access To Your Smartphone

People of Iowa can soon use a mobile app instead of a physical drivers license. Sounds great, right?

Nowhere in the course of the Des Moines Register article are any concerns expressed about potential abuse by law enforcement. Perhaps that’s due to the sole source being Paul Trombino of the Dept. of Transportation — a government agency that, like many others, likely views law enforcement officers as “good guys” and defers to their judgment.

But what happens where you’re pulled over? The first thing an officer does is ask for license and registration and then takes both items back to his/her vehicle. How many people feel comfortable with allowing an officer to take and maintain control of their cellphone for an indefinite period of time?

Sure, we have a Supreme Court decision that states warrants must be obtained before cellphones can be searched, but how much of a deterrent is that? Let’s say the officer thinks you might be some sort of drug runner. Well, now he has both your cellphone and “exigent circumstances.” Even if the eventual search turns up nothing, he’s still had a chance to look through your cellphone and, quite possibly, your vehicle, all without a warrant. Iowa’s law enforcement officers already take advantage of the state’s asset forfeiture laws. There’s no reason to believe they won’t take advantage of additional opportunities to root around in the contents of someone’s cellphone. All it takes is a routine traffic stop.

Link (Techdirt)

The Sound of Torture

Have you heard the screams of a prisoner who is being tortured in America’s war on terror? I can’t forget them.

They pierced the walls of a detention center I visited in Samarra during an offensive by American and Iraqi forces in 2005. In a small room, I was interviewing a frightened detainee whose head was bandaged from an injury he unconvincingly attributed to a car accident during his capture. Bloodstains dripped down the side of a desk, and there was an American military adviser with us, as well as a portly officer of Iraq’s special police commandos.

Suddenly there was a chilling scream.

Link (The Intercept)

The Inside Story of How British Spies Hacked Belgium’s Largest Telco

When the incoming emails stopped arriving, it seemed innocuous at first. But it would eventually become clear that this was no routine technical problem. Inside a row of gray office buildings in Brussels, a major hacking attack was in progress. And the perpetrators were British government spies.

It was in the summer of 2012 that the anomalies were initially detected by employees at Belgium’s largest telecommunications provider, Belgacom. But it wasn’t until a year later, in June 2013, that the company’s security experts were able to figure out what was going on. The computer systems of Belgacom had been infected with a highly sophisticated malware, and it was disguising itself as legitimate Microsoft software while quietly stealing data.

Last year, documents from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden confirmed that British surveillance agency Government Communications Headquarters was behind the attack, codenamed Operation Socialist. And in November, The Intercept revealed that the malware found on Belgacom’s systems was one of the most advanced spy tools ever identified by security researchers, who named it “Regin.”

The full story about GCHQ’s infiltration of Belgacom, however, has never been told. Key details about the attack have remained shrouded in mystery—and the scope of the attack unclear.

Now, in partnership with Dutch and Belgian newspapers NRC Handelsblad and De Standaard, The Intercept has pieced together the first full reconstruction of events that took place before, during, and after the secret GCHQ hacking operation.

Link (The Intercept)

Furious Google Ended MPAA Anti-Piracy Cooperation

Each week Google removes millions of ‘infringing’ links from search engine results at rightsholders’ request, 9.1m during the last documented week alone. In the main Google removes these links within hours of receiving a complaint, a record few other large sites can match.

But no matter what Google does, no matter how it tweaks its search algorithms, it’s never been enough for the MPAA. For years the movie group has been piling on the pressure and whenever Google announces a new change, the MPAA (and often RIAA) tell the press that more can be done.

By most standards, this October Google really pulled out the stops. Responding to years of criticism and endless complaints that it’s one of the world’s largest facilitators of pirate content, Google came up with the goods.

But this, ofcourse, wasn’t enough for the MPAA.

In response to the snub, Google pressed the ‘ignore’ button. A top executive at Google’s policy department told the MPAA that his company would no longer “speak or do business” with the movie group.

In future Google would speak with the studios directly, since “at least three” had already informed the search engine that they “were very happy about the new features.”

Link (Torrentfreak)

Netflix Patiently Explains To FCC Commissioner Pai That CDNs Are Perfectly Normal, Not Diabolical ‘Fast Lanes’

This new push to discredit Netflix culminated recently with a bizarre letter (pdf) sent to Netflix by FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. In the letter, Pai proclaims he was “surprised to learn” that Netflix was being hypocritical and nefarious on net neutrality because it: (a) refused to join a new streaming video coalition spearheaded by Comcast and Netflix critics; and (b) operates a content delivery network (CDN). As we noted at the time, both allegations are more than a little stupid. Pai’s allegations that Netflix’s Open Connect CDN constitutes an unfair “fast lane” was particularly silly, since CDNs benefit consumers, ISPs and content companies alike.

In a response letter to Pai (pdf) sent last week, Netflix has to carefully spell out how the company’s free and entirely voluntary CDN, like all CDNs, caches content on the inside edge of the ISP network, making content delivery more efficient for everybody involved.

Link (Techdirt)