Week in Review: No Man’s Sky, Russian Foreign Ministry & Overseas Voting

Media Division | November 11, 2016

In cyber news this week the topic could be summarized as disappointment.  A video game with a disappointing post-launch (but hilarious hack), a foreign ministry attack that amounted to nothing (though also humorous), and the potential disappointment of overseas voters (not to mention the un-funny results that may occur state-side).

Here’s a look at some of the top cyber stories this week, to amuse (or disappoint) intelligent (or intelligence) readers.

“No Man’s Sky” a “Mistake”?

In August 2016 the game No Man’s Sky launched as the number two game for PlayStation 4 and PC, only to drop the very next month, even prompting an investigation for potentially leading advertising by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority.

The development team at Hello Games has been alternately praised for their creativity and ambition, and criticized for failing to meet expectations.  Against this backdrop came a tweet credited to the studio’s founder, Sean Murray.  “No Man’s Sky was a mistake” it said on October 28th, 2016 (the tweet has since been deleted).

Once the fraudulent tweet was revealed, Hello Games said in an email, “The tweet came from a disgruntled employee.  We’re currently trying to solve the issue internally.”

The other possible source of the hack?  It seems the giant LinkedIn hack of 2012, where more than 117 million LinkedIn accounts were compromised, may have also been related to this Twitter hack.  The real Sean Murray tweeted, “If anything was a mistake, it was using Linked In [sic] without 2FA” (two-factor authentication).

While 2FA is always a great idea, another tip to avoid embarrassing tweets: change your passwords much more often than every 4 years (and don’t use the same password on multiple accounts).

As for No Man’s Sky players?  New features may be added overtime as free DLC.  We shall see.

Fake-hacking the Russian Foreign Ministry

After all the talk lately of Russia potentially hacking the US, it seemed only fitting that some retaliation would occur.  It sure looked that way when the Russian Foreign Ministry website displayed the public service announcement, “Comrades! We interrupt regularly scheduled Russian Foreign Affairs Website programming to bring you the following important message…know it off.  You may be able to push around nations around you, but this is America. Nobody is impressed.”

Was it a hack?  In a way.  It seems the hacker known as the Jester found a hole in the website’s programming that allowed him to hijack content and insert his own, but only to those who followed a link he posted on Twitter.  The main site itself appeared perfectly normal the entire time.

The Jester’s message may have been a response to the massive Denial of Service attacks on Dyn last week.  The hacktivist stated, “Now, you can do the usual, shrug, smirk, and say ‘there’s no evidence’ that points to Russia being behind any of this stuff, and you can get the Russian Ambassador to US to post some mildly amusing quips over Twitter, but let’s get real, I know it’s you, even if by-proxy, and you know it’s you.”

Such vigilante responses likely serve to fuel mounting cyber-tensions between Russia and the US, with all eyes on the election results coming this week and how the next POTUS will handle both Russia and cybersecurity.

Overseas Voting Drama

In other news of disappointments, both real and potential (and political), all eyes turn this week to the heated United States presidential election.  Among some of the most dedicated voters: the men and women serving abroad in the military.  Those and other ballots are coming under question, with increased scrutiny surrounding cybersecurity.  Some of the major (potential) situations:

1.    Hacking the vote—could electronic ballots, used by Americans abroad and legal in nearly 30 states, get tampered with, remotely?

2.    Attacking the system—could hackers use the electronic transmission system to send malware to government systems?

3.    Undermining the process—could a disruption in accuracy of computerized voting systems lead to widespread panic or distrust in an already difficult election season?

Historically, Uncle Sam has been the poster child for the democratic process.  And while presidential elections have often included some mudslinging, this one has been on a scale unlike any other.  The question remains, could a disruption in the democratic process make the United States look somehow even more ridiculous than it has so far during this electorate?  Quite possibly.

The only way to really see how this one plays out: stay tuned in the coming weeks. One thing’s for certain: never a dull week.

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