The Lizard Squad continues to be in the news this holiday season. Yesterday the hacking group took down Xbox Live and on Christmas Day thousands of people are having problems with not just Xbox Live but also the Sony Playstation Network gaming network. It seems that Sony is getting hacked left and right these days.

The group comments on twitter: 

"jingle bells jingle bells xbox got ran, oh my fun it is to troll of you morons ... hey!"

— Lizard Squad December 25, 2014

These networks allow users of the Xbox One and Playstation 4 gaming consoles to connect with Microsoft and Sony servers in order to buy games and connect with other players. 

The "Lizard Squad" continues to be responsible for the denial of service attack (DDoS) of these networks. A DDoS attack is caused when attackers crowd a network with an insurmountable amount of traffic until it shuts down. Sony and Microsoft said they were both investigating the situation. The Microsoft current posted on the online page: "Having a tough time signing in?" read a service alert on the Xbox support page. "Don't worry! We're working to fix this right away!" Sony also responded with: "We are aware that some users are reporting issues accessing PSN this morning. Thanks for your patience as we investigate."

The Lizard Squad comments again:


"What should we let back online?
RT for XBOX 

FAV for PSN"

UPDATE: Liquid Squad comments: "Taking down Microsoft and Sony networks shows the companies' inability to protect their consumers and instead shows their true vulnerability. Lizard Squad claims that their actions are simple, take down gaming networks for a short while, and forcing companies to upgrade their security as a result."


 
 
The lizard squad strike again with a particular hacker group taking credit on Twitter. Xbox Live is currently in “limited” status for Xbox 360 users (the Xbox Live service status page). The Lizard squad promised earlier this week that this would happen.

The current outage is affecting Xbox 360, including IGN, Maxim, and MLG.TV.
 
 
The Bitcoin community has been talking since Dell starting accepting bitcoin as a form of currency for purchasing computers, which means that they joined other ecommerce businesses like Expedia.com, Overstock.com, Dish TV, Newegg, and Tiger Direct. In addition, Microsoft recently joins PayPal and other companies to accept bitcoins as payment. Who will be next? Best Buy? The world of e-commerce is quickly changing so let’s get up to date in the world of Bitcoin.

What are Bitcoins anyway and why should you care? Where can I get these Bitcoins and is it worth it? Well Bitcoin is currently still rising in value to $329.94 and the great thing about their currency is that they are not tied to economy changes or transactions fees. Many algorithms run the bitcoin market to generate 21 million and it is predicted that all these bitcoins will be generated by 2140. On the other hand, the Bitcoin currency is very unstable as quoted by Professor Magnus Thor Torfason Assistant Professor at the Harvard Business School as he mentions, “Bitcoin is a very volatile asset, and the recent developments in the price of Bitcoins do have some of the characteristics of an economic bubble.” You can even invest in a PC to earn your bitcoins for you without your input by combining the power of your CPU and GPU to constantly crunch code while you sleep.

Recently Microsoft users can now add bitcoins to their accounts and buy games, apps, music, and videos from the Xbox Games, Xbox Music, Xbox Video, and Windows. This is because Microsoft partnered with BitPay to make this possible. There’s a catch though because there is $1000 USD cap on how much users can add to their account. "The use of digital currencies such as bitcoin, while not yet mainstream, is growing beyond the early enthusiasts," says Eric Lockard, Microsoft VP of Universal Store. "We expect this growth to continue and allowing people to use bitcoin to purchase our products and services now allows us to be at the front edge of that trend." Currently Bitcoin payments are only available to US customers.  
 
 
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After days of instability with North Korean internet, Monday morning, 1,024 Internet protocol addresses in North Korea went dark for over an hour. It has gone completely dark in one of the worst North Korean network failures in years. 

The internet in North Korea collapsed after President Obama promised that the United States would respond to the recent attacks on Sony Pictures. These attacks have been linked to North Korea but there is no distinctive evidence yet.

The director of Internet analysis, Doug Madory, at Dyn Research, an Internet performance management company, mentioned that the "internet access in North Korea became unstable late Friday. The situation worsened over the weekend, and by Monday, North Korea’s Internet was completely offline."

“Their networks are under duress,” Mr. Madory said. “This is consistent with a DDoS attack on their routers,” he said, referring to a distributed denial of service attack. A DDoS attack is caused when attackers crowd a network with an insurmountable amount of traffic until it shuts down. "All we know for sure is that their networks are under duress and we have not seen this kind of outage there before.” CloudFlare, an Internet company based in San Francisco, also confirmed Monday morning that North Korea’s Internet was down.

Surprisingly according to some sources North Korea actually apparently does not perform commercial or government business via the Internet. Compared to the United States which has billions of internet protocol address, while North Korea has 1,024 Internet protocol addresses.

What caused this? Maintenance issues? Mr. Madory said that "such problems most likely would not have caused such a prolonged, widespread loss."

Was this attack of American origin?
 
 
After recent events of Sony being hacked and canceling the release of "The Interview", Sony has recently released a statement: “It is still our hope that anyone who wants to see this movie will get the opportunity to do so. Free expression should never be suppressed by threats and extortion,” Sony added.

There are rumors that Sony may release "The Interview" for free on a streaming service called Crackle.

President Obama had addressed this issue in a speech saying that Sony has made a mistake in responding to hacker's threats. “We cannot have a society in which some dictators some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States,” said President Obama. “If somebody is able to intimidate folks out of releasing a satirical movie, imagine what they start doing once they see a documentary that they don’t like or news reports that they don’t like.”

UPDATE:  Select US theaters say they'll show "The Interview" this Thursday.


 
 
This Saturday afternoon according to thedailybeast.com ,Guardians of Peace, the hacking group that broke into Sony's computer network, just recently replied with a message online via YouTube mocking the FBI’s investigation. 

The message reads:

“By GOP

The result of investigation by FBI is so excellent that you might have seen what we were doing with your own eyes.

We congratulate you success.

FBI is the BEST in the world.

You will find the gift for FBI at the following address.”

They included a link to the following video titled “you are an idiot!”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hiRacdl02w4

It appears that it is a link to a Japanese video that repeats the phrase "You are an idiot" in order to mock the FBI's investigation. There is speculation that this "You are an idiot" video is to criticize the FBI for blaming the Sony hack on North Korea. President Barack Obama this past Friday has already warned North Korea that the United States would respond to the cyber attack on Sony Pictures.
 
 
Today at least 1.16 million payment cards were compromised as a result of a recent Staples hack. At least 115 stores (list provided here) were infected from a recently discovered data breach which was possibly caused by malware through Staples' point-of-sale (PoS) systems.

“Staples believes that malware may have allowed access to some transaction data at affected stores, including cardholder names, payment card numbers, expiration dates, and card verification codes. At 113 stores, the malware may have allowed access to this data for purchases made from August 10, 2014 through September 16, 2014. At two stores, the malware may have allowed access to data from purchases made from July 20, 2014 through September 16, 2014.”
 
 
The Steam Holiday Sale has officially begun as of yesterday and will run until January 2nd 2015. It is the most wonderful time of the year! Where all gamers can save as much as 75% off of name titles such as the following: Assassin's Creed Unity (33% off), Borderlands the Pre-sequel (50% off), Batman Arkham Origins (75% off), Killing Floor (75% off), and much more (http://store.steampowered.com/search/?specials=1&os=win). 

There are new deals every 12 hours and like every year the community picks which gets a bonus discount. Theres a new vote every 24 hours that are associated with these bonus discounts of the 3 titles so go and vote! Every vote gets you one trading card. "Steam Trading Cards are virtual cards, earned by buying and playing games on Steam, that can be crafted into badges that grant rewards. Collect a set of cards to earn items that help you customize your profile and show off your gameplay. " There is more information here: http://steamcommunity.com/tradingcards/faq/.

All the steam sales are also listed here: http://store.steampowered.com/search/?specials=1&os=win

 
 
It seems that authorities are having problems shutting down Pirate Bay for good because the Pirate Bay is back online! There is something different about the website since IsoHunt has "unofficially" brought the Pirate Bay back back online using the old address: oldpiratebay.org. The Old Pirate Bay is only an archive plus a massive search engine working with magnet links. As the new website is up and running it continues to download content adding to the previous Piratebay.org right before it was shut down.

Isohunt symbolizes the Old Pirate Bay as "freedom and possibilities on the web," and the website that was shut down as "a symbol of liberty for a generation of Internet users. Isohunt concludes with, "Keep on believing, keep on sharing."







First seen on http://www.techtimes.com/

 
 
As a Windows user you have the choice to manually install Windows updates or have them installed automatically. On December 10th 2014, a recent Windows Update KB3004394 was released and Microsoft has verified it causing major software problems for only Windows 7 users. Hopefully this issue is addressed soon as many more users run Windows 7 compared to Windows 8.

Robert Hallock from AMD has stated that this update prevents updates of the latests graphics card drives such as the newest AMD Catalyst Omega drivers. According to PCWorld, there is a simple fix for this. Manually navigate to: Control Panel > Programs > Programs and Features > View Installed Updates, right-clicking on KB3004394, uninstall the update, and restart your system.