Cyber Week in Review: NES Games, Verizon-Yahoo Deal & Press Documents

Media Division | January 20, 2017

At the risk of sounding meta, it’s the week of the not-hack hack; which isn’t to say it’s the sound of one hand clapping: it’s the sound of interfering.  From the NES games hack that will have you playing like a man called mega, to the little email deal that could (not) and the press documents heard round the world: this is a week where the cyber verse admits to getting the raw deal.

Games of Days Gone By

Nintendo had a moment of genius when they decided to release the minute NES Classic Edition.  The scaled down small gray box of joy sold out in minutes at many retailers across the country.  You can find a few of the classically styled little game systems on eBay and other sources, and when you do they come pre-loaded with some of your favorite childhood games.

But that wasn’t enough for some gamers.  Some Darkwing Duck lovers got a raw deal.

This is where that other definition of “hack” comes in, the one where you alter something to make life better: hackers hacked the NES Classic Edition to let you play games that didn’t come on the system.  The method isn’t for the faint of heart, but you can read the details on ArsTechnica.  Basically, you use a micro USB connection to load the software onto your own computer, alter it (adding in the games you want), and then put it back onto your NES Classic Edition.

You may gain Mega Man or Battletoads, but you also may lose your software, so this is a system hack for the somewhat experienced hacker.

A Mega Deal Gone Belly Up

Chances are, you heard about the Yahoo data breach that earned the dubious title of not only the biggest hack of 2016, but the biggest single data breach of all time.  You’re not the only one: would-be buyer Verizon seems to have gotten a whiff of the smell of cyber insecurity, and now it may be getting cold-acquisition-feet.

At the very least, an investigation is underway.  It’s a bit like buying a used car: you want that thing to be certified pre-owned, and if not, at least inspected by a mechanic, before driving home a known clunker.

Industry insiders are hopeful.  AOL Chief Executive Tim Armstrong spoke to CNBC and said he expected the Verizon-Yahoo deal to go through.  He’s been there, after all, since Verizon bought up AOL in 2015 for $4.4 billion dollars.

So maybe it won’t be a raw deal for a Verizon and Yahoo merger.  It does have us examining acquisitions and mergers in the age of cybersecurity, however.

Playing a Game with the Press

Many Americans have gotten a little tired of politics, so we better say right away: this is not a political message.  It’s hard to talk about events leading up to the election without a collective sigh, “Oh, geez, can we just drop it!?”

We’re not talking about who won or who didn’t win or whether or not that matters, but what we cannot avoid when we are talking about hacking is beating the press at their own game: the hacking of public opinion using the press.

Ironically, this is news that has also come out in the press:  many of the “leaked” documents leading up to the election appear to have been Russian hacks.

Let’s say WikiLeaks gets ahold of something completely different, like insider emails from a car manufacturer (made up example, not political in nature).  So the juicy details talk about how the car manufacturer had data on competitors, and a strategic plan to overtake the market for sedans.  WikiLeaks releases the documents, the press gets ahold of them, everyone goes a little giddy in the cyberverse for a few weeks, and then moves on.

What happens if instead, a seemingly similar platform gets press documents, we will call it “AutoLeaks,” a newly emerged website claiming to want to expose the truth in automobile manufacturing?  Mainstream news will likely still pick it up and broadcast it all over the place, and the aforementioned giddiness ensues.

Well, that’s about what happened with the site DCLeaks, which in retrospect was likely a Russian front.  Then there was the “hactivist” Guccifer 2.0, who wasn’t an individual seeking to expose the truth at all, but instead another Russian front.

When a hactivist reaches out to a news outlet with an “exclusive story,” including backing press documents, they aren’t exactly going to turn away from the lead.  That’s the mechanism the Russian GRU manipulated leading up the election.

As for “why” and who got the raw deal on this one, we’ll stay out of that and let you have your own politics.  The point is, what does the press do in the future with such documents?

Probably the same thing they’ve done all along: release them.  After all, it does seem to make people go a little giddy for a while.

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