The Sony Incident

    Oh what a world we live in.  If you haven’t been following the most embarrassing story of the year, you probably are now with the recent announcement to pull “The Interview” from being shown on Christmas day.  I’m not sure anyone saw that coming.  Or maybe you did?

    With the incredible damages that have been done to Sony, one would wonder whether or not, the “Interview” was worth everything terrible that had happened to Sony.  Leaked emails burning bridges with major stars, medical records of every employee stolen along with a class action law suit to follow, racist conversations leaked from corporate leaders regarding the president, and 5 major films leaked prematurely including Brad Pitt’s “Fury’ which hadn’t made it to the theater yet before being downloaded over a million times.  This was truly a mega-disaster.  100 Terabytes is a breach unheard of.  To cap it off, today Sony announced that they won’t be releasing “The Interview” thus caving in to ‘Terrorist” threats.   
    With some time to think about this response, I decided that I wasn’t really surprised by it.  Sure, everything about the situation is unethical, but the contents revealed from this company is alarming.  Are we just supposed to pretend that we didn’t see it?  Howard Stern stated on his morning show, that this was a terrorist attack and that it was no different then 9/11.  He said that the media should be ashamed of themselves for reporting on the hacked information, an that we should all unite together as a country and strike back at these terrorists.  He said we were “attacked.” As a listener of his show for my entire life, for the first time, I thought he sounded like an idiot.  Sure, innocent people had their personal information stolen.  But where were these comments when Home Depot and Target were hacked.  There we none.  Now that its happened to Hollywood, we are supposed to get all up in arms?  There is a reason why Sony went after news outlets and threatened them with lawsuits if they did any further reporting on the breached info.  Sure, they didn’t want everyone to know that the company leaders exchanged black jokes about our President, or they didn’t want the salaries of their workers posted for the world to see.  They didn’t want comments made about major actors being made public.  All of this is obvious and not that surprising.  Oh I forgot to mention their plan to destroy the Internet.  I forgot that little detail.
    Leaked emails revealed the MPAA plans to pay elected officials to attack Google.  The MPAA has been after the internet for years stemming back to 2011 with the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a dangerous and deceiving bill to combat piracy.  Fortunately it was shut down thanks to the great internet blackout when over 7000 websites protested by shutting their services down.  Wikipedia stated that they had successfully reached 162 million people with their banner to fight this issue.  It was a legendary day for the internet that paid off immensely.  The MPAA has not given up and their lawyers are turning their focus to attacking the DNS (Domain Name System) that directs traffic across the internet.  This was one of the practices included in the SOPA bill, and now looking for a way to practice this in existing law, working with ISP’s like Comcast to see how the system could work technically.  If it does work, this could be the key to the MPAA’s long standing goal blocking sites from delivering content to the U.S.  At the same time it also threatens the basic engineering of the internet.
   A memo commissioned by the MPAA in August proposes a legal case for blocking infringing sites from the DNS entirely.  It would be the equivalent to wiping out addresses and phone numbers from a phone book.  This powerful new tool they are working on would essentially threaten ISP’s with potential secondary liability if they do not cease connecting users to infringing sites.  This wouldn’t fully block users from reaching “infringing” websites as they could still use a DNS friendly server, but it would make it much more difficult for the casual user to find the sites.  Sounds reasonable?  Think again.  A system like this would make it extremely easy for anyone to knock a site offline with a fake copyright claim.  The MPAA’s legal argument is that the DNS records are acting like a directory or index rather than simply routing the data.  If this holds true, the DNS links could be subject to the same take-down rules used to wipe torrent searches from Google links.  It would make it as easy to remove an entire website as it is to remove a video from Youtube.  Sure, there are easy ways around any of these tactics for someone that wants to use a little effort.  VPN, Tor, and typing the address directly into the address bar are a few, but the goal of the MPAA is to stop the majority of the people, people with “101” knowledge of the Internet.
    The DNS system is already a security issue as it stands, exploited by hackers to hijack websites and any authentication measures like DNSSEC would quickly run into issues under this new MPAA system.  If users leave standard DNS servers in search of pirate sites, it would essentially create an underground DNS market, exposing people to unknown security risks.
     Above all this represents another massive attack on the open Internet by an individual corporate interest group.  The hack on Sony may be looked at by some as a “Terrorist” attack, but if you look closer, it’s just a greedy corporation being outed for doing (and planning on doing) a bunch of terrible things.  I”m not sure I feel all that bad…
     Protect the Internet at all costs!

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