On a slow news day like this, I was interested to find two completely separate stories regarding the world of hacking and the entertainment companies that make gaming consoles.
The first story was about a hacker known as “Predator” harassing the Xbox Live community by “hacking” into player accounts, leaving explicit voice messages, changing profile information, and other annoying hacker-antics. “Predator” claims that he was merely trying to make Microsoft aware of the security vulnerabilities on their end. I believe the bad guy from Die Hard 4 did the same thing.
A few prominent Gamertags were hacked, 15 in all as he claims, including Trixie360 and Xbox Live Director of Policy and Enforcement Stephen “Stepto” Toulouse. How embarrassed does this guy feel? His job is to enforce policies on Xbox Live, hacking being a breach in the user agreement I’m sure. Either way, he had some choice words for the hacker known as “Predator,” that seemed to make me cringe as a gamer. Listen to the way “Stepto” talks about this guy, like an old man telling those dang kids to get off his lawn:
“The kids sometimes try to go after me — it’s not that big a deal.”
“What these kids try and do is, all day long, they try and get my account or someone’s account who’s popular or prominent…It’s quite humorous sometimes to watch.”
Please, I’m an unashamed Xbox gamer, why must you talk like this on the internet for everyone to see? “Kids?” Probably not the best usage of words, considering “kids” make up a huge chunk of the Xbox Live community. But I digress. Send John McClaine after this guy or something. What an annoyance.
Another story in the hacking/gaming world today comes from Sony. It turns out that everyone’s favorite Scientology-harassing hacker group known as “Anonymous” is back, and this time they’re targeting Sony.
Sony has brought litigation against a “hacker” (I use this term loosely because most of the publications regarding any of these stories call them this, even though I prefer the more long-winded: “computer-code dominator.” Doesn’t quite roll off the tongue) named GeoHot for finding The Playstation 3’s root-key and sharing it online. This is what allows the system to distinguish between legitimate software or cracked versions, etc. Another use for this would be to install Linux, the operating system popular in software engineer circles for it’s openness. Ironically, Sony had once allowed the installation of this OS until an update over the past year and now it’s not allowed.
Anonymous posted their charges for Sony online and it’s quite heavy:
“You have abused the judicial system in an attempt to censor information about how your products work. You have victimized your own customers merely for possessing and sharing information, and continue to target those who seek this information. In doing so you have violated the privacy of thousands of innocent people who only sought the free distribution of information. Your suppression of this information is motivated by corporate greed and the desire for complete control over the actions of individuals who purchase and use your products, at least when those actions threaten to undermine the corrupt stranglehold you seek to maintain over copywrong, oops, ‘copyright.’”
Just as they’ve done in the past with other popular websites from giant corporations they don’t get along with, Playstation.com is as of this posting currently down. I wonder who’s responsible?
I’m not going to rule one way or another about what Sony should do. I believe a product’s usage should be determined by who makes it, so Sony is in their right to sue, but as long as it’s not being used to unlock copied versions of retail items, I’m fine with that. Where companies like Sony and Apple get it wrong is that they suppress movements like this at all costs when in reality, the usage of such techniques are miniscule in comparison to those using it as it was made right out of the box. I say give ’em a pass, let them use their PS3’s as they want to, and if you know for sure they are playing a cracked version of Little Big Planet 2, sue them if you’d like.
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