Jan Scheuermann went from Wheel Of Fortune to a wheelchair, to being able to control a robot arm.
‘Breakthrough’ they say. 60 Minutes’s Scott Pelley used the term to describe the thought-controlled robot arm, though I suspect he may not have seen such machinery before. But given how this arm is controlled, “breakthrough” might be the appropriate term.
Jan Scheuermann appeared on Wheel Of Fortune in 1995. A year after her appearance, she was diagnosed with a hereditary condition called spinocerebellar degeneration (ataxia), which causes parts of her brain and spinal column to degenerate, leaving her a quadriplegic. Researchers at University of Pittsburgh’s Pitt School of Medicine attached two electrode arrays to her brain near the areas used for arm movement, and in a year she was able to use the arm as well as a normal person.
Four years in the making. The arm is the result of a Defense Department project called “Revolutionizing Prosthetics,” a project looking at making a new generation of prosthetic limbs that restore normal functions for soldiers who lost limbs in battle.
This old Associated Press video shows an early stage of the project where a monkey uses his mind to control a robot arm.
Sooner or later, this technology had to come to the average person, not just paraplegics but amputees as well.
In Jan’s case, having to connect the arm directly to her brain was necessary since her ataxia has ruined the connection(s) between her brain and limbs. For amputees, the connections are still intact so the connection can be made at the nerve endings.
Further refinements. Jan’s new arm is impressive, but still far from perfect. In the 60 Minutes video Jan has problems with grabbing objects she looks at. One possible solution is to use ‘touch’ sensors in the fingers to give feedback. Another possibility being considered is the use of Wi-Fi to eliminate the skull connectors.
Restoring arm and leg functions for amputees and paraplegics are only the beginning. They’re also looking at eyes (no pun intended), ears, and even artificial internal organs for for stroke and cerebral palsy victims, and even the elderly.
Once such artificial limbs and organs are ready for the general public, the only thing left to worry about is…
More preview than preview. I only planed a two-week vacation, but an infected (and eventually amputated) toe extended that to two unplanned months, expected to last to the end of the year. Now would be a good time to catch up on some stuff I’ve been planning on reviewing.
Starting off would be a movie so far into early development that it only exists as a script. User feat747 (aka Hashim Bannaga) written it for the Pulsar Sci-Fi Screenplay Contest and made it to the semi-finals. He’s looking for producers to bring the script to the screens. From I’ve read of the script, any willing producer will have something pretty good to work with.
The Story: In 2022, a highly-advanced A.I. named Avalon was created and begins learning at an incredible rate. Eventually, all companies and governments would relinquish control to Avalon. In 2053, Avalon creates a hacker program that launches a nuclear apocalypse that destroys ninety percent of humanity, and allows Avalon to take control of all electronics to become CyberNet.
It is now 2099, and Avalon has gathered survivors into the walled city of The Metropis Sector while building Elsia City and The Citadel for itself. The humans are given some of the basics (shelter, stipends, and a COM unit) and are allowed to regulate themselves. But some humans exist in the wastelands outside the city, raiding convoys for supplies.
Other cyberpunk stuff to look forward to: While the main story may sound like a Terminator rehash, there is a background story involving people being transferred into android bodies that makes for a major twist on human’s being. There’s also a bit of hacking, adventures in cyberspace, and other cyberpunk themes involved.
While it’s too early to rate (no visuals to check), it looks like The Citadel is off to a good start with its script. At last communication, feat747 was looking to bring it to life with the right producer(s). Let’s hope this comes out good, at least better than Snakes On A Plane.
Overview: Not everyone is a team player (I’m still getting used to the concept myself); They would rather play the “lone wolf” type. Then again, sometimes those massive multiplayer servers suffers downtime every so often. Whatever reason leaves you offline, it’s good to have single-player games to occupy your time or practice your (lack of) skills. Hard Reset is one such “offline” game for soloists.
Created by Polish company Flying Wild Hog, Hard Reset is one hardcore action shooter originally released in 2011, but after complaints that it was too short, the extended edition downloaded this past July. The story and visuals definitely recall some favorite cyberpunk media
particularly Blade Runner
while the action is reminiscent of early run-n-gun FPSs like Doom and Quake where an itchy trigger finger can help you survive, and a bit of exploration can uncover secrets to help you get ahead.
The Story: It is the year 2436. Humanity has been fighting a loosing war against the robots. Now the remaining humans have been relocated to the walled city of Bezoar. The Sunshine corporation runs and protects a network called “Sancuary,” where billions of (formerly living) human personalities are stored for possible future resurrection. The robots want Sanctuary to expand their limited A.I. and finish humanity off for good.
You are Major James Fletcher, a veteran soldier currently working with CLN. Word comes down that robots have breached Bezoar’s wall, and you are the only one in the area. Time to grab your CLN assault rifle and EEF-21 plasma gun and kick ass.
Strategy? We don’t need no stinkin’ strategy! Unlike modern shooters with their dozens of fighter classes and hundreds of weapons for each requiring players to selectively choose the right combo of fighter, weapons, and field strategy, Hard Reset simplifies things by giving you only two weapons; The CLN standard-issue modular assault rifle, and the EEF-21 plasma gun. Both weapons can be upgraded by collecting “n.a.n.o.s,” the currency used at any upgrade station. Each station gives you options for you guns like a shotgun module and grenade launchers for the CLN rifle, and tazer, rail, and smartgun options for the plasma gun. These weapon modules also have additional abilities like optical zoom, higher fire rates, and secondary firing modes. So the only strategy you need is having the right weapon at the right area.
Gorilla bot in your face? Go apeshit!
You also have defensive options like more life, better shields, more ammo with each pick-up, and time-warping drugs for when you are near death.
You’re going to need all that stuff for when you face the bosses.
Hard Reset is HARD. Make no mistake about this, this game is HARD, and not just hard-core. Just how hard?
This is you.
This is you after two minutes of Hard Reset. Any Questions?
This was probably done intentionally to compensate for the short length. But also making things hard is the save-game system; There isn’t a way to save your progress normally. Instead, you have to cross certain “checkpoints” or defeat certain foes to get the game to save your progress for you. In between those save-points you’ll face several waves of bots who will hand your ass to you, and negate the progress you may have made.
Extended Play. Going back to the game’s length, originally a good player can complete the missions in about six hours, even with several deaths in the process.
The extended edition gives you about two hours of additional bot-kicking with a junkyard and factory to fight in, and new bots including a new boss.
The extension, referred to as “Exile,” continues Fletcher’s journey as he leaves Bezoar to pursue the bots.
The extension is certainly impressive, especially the junkyard with giant blades overhead shredding metal that rains down. The only problem with it is, there are no comic book style cut-scenes like in the original, except one at the very end. Those cut-scenes could help advance the story further as you venture out of the city and into the unknown.
Conclusion: Will all the military-themed MMO shooters looking to become the next… whatever military-MMO title is big this time of year… Hard Reset is a refreshing change for cyberpunk fans. Visually appealing, dangerously difficult, and a blast to play for early FPS vets. Just what the doctor ordered for the offline life.
Overview: Seems every time I do a game review, someone has to mention Dystopia. Well, I’ve heard your voices and checked it out. I can definitely say that Dystopia indeed needs to be reviewed.
I’ve been sort of reluctant to do a review because, unlike G String, Dystopia is strictly a multiplayer mod and lately there haven’t been many servers in operation to play. But maybe once this review is seen by able fans, there may be more servers going online.
The Story: Dateline 2069: After a series of wars, recessions, mergers, etc., governments have practically vanished as corporations now run everything. Anti-corporate resistance exists as mercenary “punks” have taken up arms against the private security “corp” forces seeking to bring law and order to the chaos of the arcologies.
There’s no “I” in “team.”
Teamwork is important in Dystopia. Like having a heavy guard a decker who’s jacked in and vulnerable.
To survive in Dystopia, you need to rely not only on your own skills in FPSs, but in your teammates whether they be corp agents or punk mercenaries. First of all, once you log into a server and select a map, you have to decide if you want to be corp or punk. Then you need to decide which of the three classes you want to be. The light class has little armor and has to rely on speed and stealth to survive. Fortunately, they also have four implant slots to augment their stealthiness. Heavy classes don’t have implant options, but their firepower options really don’t require augmentation. Medium class is a balance of the others, with two implant slots available.
Now you can select from the weapons and implants available to your selected class.
Make certain one of your light/medium members has a cyberspace deck installed. You’ll need a deck to access cyberspace.
From there, all you need to do is complete the objectives shown within the time limit to win.
Lone wolves need not apply. Dystopia is very much a multiplayer mod. Single players will be out of luck in playing, unless they can set up a server where only one player can log in… or develop bots that can act as allies/enemies. There is a tutorial that shows the basics, but you’ll only be able to experience it as a corp “light shotgun decker” (light class with a shotgun and deck, working for the corps).
Not too long ago, there used to be a couple of dozen servers available to play on. You might even find a few without anyone logged in so you can explore the maps and practice against the automated defenses by your lonesome, until someone logs in as an opposing player. Recently, there have only been one server (if any) with only one map at a time available. That might be due to my timing, as I do work a forty-hour work week.
Besides, death is an experience best shared.
Conclusion: It’s hard for a long-time solo player to get into a game like Dystopia, especially one who’s deathmatch experience comes from Quake Reaper-bots. For fans of cyberpunk, the atmosphere and background just might be what brings those soloists into the multiplayer venue (unless they’re trapped in Neocron for some odd reason). Though a single-player campaign or career would be nice.
In the mean time, how about setting up some servers so we can get into the Dystopian groove, K?
If you think the world today is messed up, try living in Myo Hyori’s world.
Overview: Following the footsteps of games like Doom 2, Quake, and the Unreal series, Half Life 2 released the tools, like the SDK (”software development kit”), to allow talented hackers and modders to literally change the game. They have made mods and conversions that allow for realistic or overpowering weapons, deathmatch bots, and whole new dytopic worlds to explore.
G String is the latest mod that throws us into a cyberpunk world. Against a background of a dying Earth dominated by civil unrest against air-supply corporations, you’ll be traveling and fighting through corporate fascists, berserk robots, and your own mutations as you join the “War Against Money.” Just be prepared for a few surprises along the way.
The Story: Dwindling oil supplies spark a nuclear war in the Middle East, leaving what little bit remains unreachable and unusable. This triggers massive earthquakes that shake North America and sink Asia, while Africa and South America are raped of their natural resources. The polar ice caps didn’t melt, they just moved to Europe. The fallout, pollution, and deforestation has made the air poisonous so that people who wander outside must wear environmental suits with air-filtration systems or risk destroying their lungs. Whole cities are encased in domes that allow large air filtration and recycling systems make the air a bit more breathable. But as the companies that run the systems collect all currency in the world, some have begun to fight back against those who finance them.
This video should give you an idea of the future Myo lives in.
You are Myo Hyori, a Korean girl living in the North American Union. Your family moved here to TokyoTwice when tsunamis sink Asia. You wake up one morning discovering that you can shoot fireballs and telekinetically move objects… and you’re not the only one with such abilities. The corporations view you and your mutated kind as a threat to their profit margins, and are taking steps to stop you before you can put them out of business.
Another “mutant” that’s out there… somewhere. If you can meet up with her maybe you can stop the madness that’s killing this planet.
See the sights, hear the tunes. You start off in your room in the suburban slums with your television on fire. Once you make it outside you get to travel to many different places. From back alleys to main streets, rooftops to sewers, squeezing through ventilation ducts to precariously balanced on a narrow ledge some fifty stories above the streets, you’ll be traveling across some interesting and dangerous terrain. Along the way, you may encounter some of the living who may be resistance or corporate. Corporate types will shoot you without provocation, so shoot them back preferably before they start shooting. DON’T SHOOT THE RESISTANCE FIGHTERS! They’re only trying to help (even if they do get in the way), and shooting them will not only make them shoot back, but they may call you some nasty things as well.
Keep your ears open as well as your eyes… or you might miss something.
Sounds also play a role heightening the atmosphere. Distant gunfire, screams of agony from behind closed doors,… even announcements from the hidden public address system can give you encouragement, or a warning of what’s ahead in your travels. An eerie psychic whisper in your head can be expected as well.
Most of the music is the standard ambient background music, but some spots (like a nightclub in the slums) have J-pop blaring through your speakers, even while you’re engaged in combat. If you find the right spot while traveling through the ruins, you’ll even get to hear the Zager & Evans tune “In The Year 2525.”
At several points in your adventure you’ll be subjected to a “mindfuck”. Some you just have to endure for a minute or two, others you will need to find an escape.
Future imperfect. MyoHyo said she spent some five years developing this mod. For the most part, the quality shows through. Even so, there are some technical issues. While making my way down from a roof, I kill two corp guards only to have the game abort with a “no free edicts” error (or something similar). After restarting and luring one of the guards to the door and killing him, I was able to continue without any further major errors. But the ladders gave me the most problems, especially when trying to jump across a deep drop off one. I did make it, after a few deaths, but it’s still hard for me to do consistently. Also, throwing fireballs requires that you press forward and backward simultaneously. Not the hardest thing to do with a keyboard, but it would have been better if you can bind that function to a single key or button for joystick/gamepad users.
MyoHyo is currently working on a version 2.0 that, hopefully, will address these issues. She’s looking for a couple of voice actors, so v2 looks like it may be an expanded edition. Just keep an eye on her site to see when it comes out, along with the soundtrack.
Conclusion: G String has what it takes to be a classic HL2 mod. MyoHyo has certainly created a serious cyberpunk trip for her first version. Can’t wait to see what 2.0 has in store.
Overview: Ever see a short movie and wished it could be made feature-length? OK, 9 made that jump in 09. Now, a new short has similar designs. Thieves made its debut in film-festivals in July, claiming audience choice at the Mitten Movie Project with a nomination for short of the year, and is now available for online viewing (like above).
The Story: America has created a new prototype energy cell that is now powering New Detroit. To protect both the cell and the city, an agency known only as “Butterfly” is formed to foster patriotism and stability, and to “recruit uniquely skilled people” to make it all possible. However, a terrorist organization has taken the prototype cell and plan to dismantle it. While the world waits for Armageddon, Butterfly has captured a high-value terrorist and plan to “recruit” him.
Sheldon Simmons: Remember his name. I got a feeling his name will be called at some future Oscar ceremony.
A Piece of a Larger Puzzle. Fourteen minutes hardly makes for a feature, so this short may make you feel like you’re missing a lot. THAT was intended:
From the beginning, Thieves was conceived as an excerpt from a much larger saga of feature films. As such, Thieves is not a self-contained piece. It’s made quite clear from its opening moments to its closing frame that there is most certainly a hell of a lot more going on before and after the events showcased in the short film.
Of course, there is the danger that if Thieves does become feature length it may become another Snakes on A Plane. But as long as the Zenisphere crew keeps true to their vision (and creative control of the project), that danger should be minimal.
Conclusion: If you haven’t heard of Thieves before, be ready to hear more of it in the future. Zenisphere has made a slam-dunk short that’s going to leave you wanting more. Already gathering high praise from indie film bloggers, Thieves is set to garner even bigger accolades (like ours), and possibly become the next Blade Runner, or at least The Matrix.
A quick one to hold you over: People have been PM-ing me to check out projects they have been working on. SSJKamui is one of the most recent, drawing (sic) my attention to a comic of his over on DeviantArt. It’s actually a remake of a previous comic of his to improve the quality of the story and pics. Though nowhere near DC/Marvel studio quality, this comic still manages to get its point across, making you wonder about the nature of humanity and “fear.”
The Story: At a time when cybernetic implants, planetary colonization, and megacorporations rule, an alien force obliterates a Mars colony and are now appearing on Earth. Because the “aliens” appear to be human, they are called the Caine.
Because the Caine kill people, whether accidentally or on purpose, the World Government classify the Caine as terrorists. A computer algorithm was developed to predict Caine “attacks”, but with a huge margin of error. An investigative group is being formed to improve the algorithm, but when a member of the group is “attacked”, the World Government is ready to destroy the group and the city of Kyoto to stop the Caine.
The Nature of Fear. The main theme of Essence is the nature of fear: What is it that scares us, and what do we do to reduce the fear? What freedom do we sacrifice for (the illusion) of security, and does the loss of that freedom only generate more fear?
Sounds familiar? Those are the questions we’ve been fighting with since 9/11/01. Only now SSJKamui has put those questions into a cyberpunk comic. Or as Benjamin Franklin one put it “Those who give up much liberty for a little security deserve neither and will lose both” (or something similar).
And for that matter, who are the Caine? Are they alien beings beyond human comprehension, or humans that paranoid-addled minds have twisted into something inhuman?
Conclusion: While some may balk at the quality, the dialog is easy enough to follow. And the themes of fear and security makes this 25-page comic a good read. Though you might want to keep the lights on, and only turn the page when the Caine says it’s OK.
The Ghosts of Zero by “The Digital Alchemist” (No audio track)
1. Geist Anthropic 1:4
2. Too Much Is Never Enough
3. Cenotaph, or We’ve Been Reduced To Lo-Fi
5. Love Simulacra
6. Cold As The Gun
7. …And Weave The Spider’s Web
8. Geist Threnodic 2:4
9. Best Served Flash-Frozen
10. Geist Eidetic 3:4
11. All The Good Things You Are
13. Made In Brazil | Living In Japan
14. Crossed Swords
15. Geist Intrinsic 4:4
16. Anodyne Fading: The Wolf Without
18. Deep In The Deep: Reaction-Diffusion Dies Tonight
19. Unto The Interface
Overview: Cyberpunk continues to inspire writers and readers some 35 years after William Gibson wrote his first short story. Now a new group of writers, artists, and musicians have come together as the Very Us Artists to create the latest cyber-anthology complete with its own soundtrack. It’s not so much a book and CD, but a multimedia package. But does it work as a whole, or should certain parts be omitted?
The (Back) Story: The prologue (The Ghosts of Zero) gives us the basic back story of the rest of the book:
Corporations became bigger than “too big to fail;” they became governments and nations unto themselves and the established powers were unable to stop them, especially when the corporations began absorbing military forces or creating their own as “security.” That’s when the Multinationals Wars(TM) started as the corporations screwed the law over and courts became battlefields. World economies virtually died out as currency was replaced by World Bank Currency, a.k.a. WBC, the W, or simply “dub.”
Technology advanced as the corps wanted the best weapons for “hostile takeovers.” Robots and nanotechnology soon appeared, but without Skynet or SHODAN (which was good news or bad news depending on how you wanted to see it). The Internet slowly died out as privacy and freedom was overrun by surveillance and censorship, but was replaced by Worldnet, though nobody knows how it came to be.
The (Front) Stories: At first, this anthology may seem like 19 separate stories set against the backdrop of the above scenario. But once you start reading the eighth story, you suddenly realize that there are more common threads running through the book than just the back story. In particular, the four “Geist” stories about a former pyra-play addict who risks everything to hunt down a creature called the “Geist” (as in zeitgeist, the spirit of the times). The Geist attacks systems like a mosquito feeding on blood, but in doing so causes major disruptions. The other stories gives background on the technologies, people, events, and the Geist itself.
Not all the stories as connected. Some are simply stand-alone, side stories. Even so, they further enhance the dystopic scene of the (post)Multinational Wars(TM) as couriers, Stomp Brawl (a future MMA) fighters, librarians, and even children fight for personal and human survival in dark and dangerous times. My personal favorite is the librarians who are trying to save the data from an ice-based computer that’s shutdown and melting.
The Soundtrack: Have you ever tried reading a book while music was playing in the background? Sometimes it helps to read with music from a radio, CD, iPod, or pirated MP3s playing as a “soundtrack” for your book. If only all books had its own soundtrack…
A CD with the book (or MP3s with the ebook) has 19 tracks that correspond with all the stories (except the prologue) ranging from ambient synth-instrumentals to outright rock songs. I listened to the disk after reading the book and the tunes brought back some memories of the stories. It would have been better if I was listening while reading to get the full effect. But with or without the book, they still make good ear-candy.
An example of the music from the Foreshadows CD: Bilian’s “Love Simulacra”
Conclusion: The Very Us Artists have made their case for the next generation of cyberpunk, and it’s a pretty bold statement. A broad collaboration that shows what multimedia should have been in the 90s. Even now there’s word of more than could be published in a book. Webshadows continues where the book leaves off.
Some might balk at the $36 US price tag for the book/disk combo, but given the amount of work that went into this project, the whole being more than just the parts, and current prices of books and CDs, the price is well worth it.
Update: Just got word from John LaSala, one of the masterminds behind the Foreshadows project, that he is willing to cut 10% of the price for the physical package. Just go to their website, purchase, and when asked for a coupon tell them ROBOTO10 sent you.
Author Paolo Bacigalupi (The Windup Girl) gives a short essay on why he feels cyberpunk was sci-fi’s saviour in the 80’s.
One man’s opinion. Last week Wired posted an essay in its Underwire section by a writer who felt that cyberpunk saved the science fiction genre in the 80s. Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction author himself, explains that sci-fi at the time was spinning its wheels in a deep ditch, how it lost touch with humanity and technology, and how it needed a solid bitch-slap. Cyberpunk was that bitch-slap… followed with a nasty pimp-slap:
Cyberpunk felt urgent. It wasn’t the future 15 minutes out—it was the future sideswiping you and leaving you in a full-body cast as it passed by.
It was a desperately needed course correction. Science fiction had lost the thread of reality. Human beings weren’t going to the moon; we were going digital. Someone needed to grab the genre by the lapels and yank it around—force writers to look at the present moment and decipher its implications.
Considering events of the time would help understand why the Rocket-and-Moon-Colony set was a failure when the 80s came around.
May the Force be Irrelevant. As 1979 gave way to 1980, the original Star Wars (Episode IV: A New Hope) was three years old and wouldn’t be available for home viewing for another two years, while Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back would be released mid-year, and Star Trek: The Motion Picture was only one month in theaters. Battlestar Galactica would get new life as Galactica 1980 and would trade laser fire with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. It seemed like the 80s would be a golden age of starfighter-space operas.
But the technology wasn’t keeping pace, going in its own direction and taking humanity with it.
Even though the space shuttle was taking flight, humanity wasn’t going to outer space. Only in video games were we able to blast off this planet and live out those Luke Skywalker-wannabe fantasies. Instead of Martians and robots invading our homes, computers were, by invitation, while robots were a couple of decades away. And we forgot about outer space for cyberspace.
The Future calls collect. Who accepted the charges? The space opera fare was starting to become lame. Computers were becoming commonplace while space travel was becoming stale. 80s sci-fi was exactly like grandpa’s sci-fi, and Gen-X was hating it. They wanted it to mirror what technology was like.
Enter: William Gibson. In 1981, he wrote a short story called “The Gernsback Continuum” about a photographer who finds himself in a 1930’s idea of the future… and hating it. The story showed how that idea of the future was obsolete and incompatible with the early 80s reality. Others heard the call and answered.
Blade Runner would be the bitch slap. Ridley Scott’s view of a gritty future of corporate gods lording over imperfect humans would be an inspiration for cyberpunks to come, including Gibson himself. Although when Gibson was writing Neuromancer he saw Blade Runner and almost abandoned it fearing that he would be accused of copying the movie. Instead, the book became the pimp-slap that would chance sci-fi for some time to come.
While the book and movie were considered ground-breaking, they were far from “immaculate conception.” Check out our Proto-Cyberpunk Media category for some examples of pre-1980s inspirations.
A new call for the next “Gernsback Continuum.” Cyberpunk has come a long way since those heady underground days of the 80s, but now the world has changed considerably since and a new call for the next generation sci-fi writer:
Just as when we were on the cusp of cyberpunk and didn’t know it, I’m hoping now for another new breed of writers, people who can craft drive-by speculations that leave us gasping with surprise. Those kinds of writers don’t just see the future; they see the present.
For a sub-genre that gave us such “punk” subsets like steam-, bio-, and dieselpunk, cyberpunk may again rise to the occasion.
Imagine if “Star Wars” was reimagined as cyberpunk instead of space opera. Sillof did it for his custom action figures (click the pic to see more).
Companies are calling for more active responses to hack attacks, because tinfoil hats are very poor firewalls.
More proof that our present is a cyberpunk future. Reuters reports that companies, frustrated with outdated laws against sophisticated hacking attacks, are now looking for more “active” forms of defense against hackers. Not content with react-and-repair plans, they are now looking for offensive responses:
Known in the cybersecurity industry as “active defense” or “strike-back” technology, the reprisals range from modest steps to distract and delay a hacker to more controversial measures. Security experts say they even know of some cases where companies have taken action that could violate laws in the United States or other countries, such as hiring contractors to hack the assailant’s own systems.
One such “contractor” is CrowdStrike, a “A Stealth-mode Security Start-up” that offer services such as “an on-demand retainer service that empowers your enterprise through experienced and professional tactical response teams” (what some may call “mercenaries”). They can also use more common tactics like honeypots (fake files to keep an intruder’s attention while he’s being traced).
One group seems to already have “active defense” in operation.
A slippery slope. With such security breaches becoming more commonplace, it would seem that an escalation in hacking countermeasures was inevitable. But such escalation is not without risks:
Henry (Shawn Henry, the former head of cybercrime investigations at the FBI who in April joined CrowdStrike) and CrowdStrike co-founder Dmitri Alperovich do not recommend that companies try to breach their opponent’s computers, but they say the private sector does need to fight back more boldly against cyber espionage.
Of course, that fight-back mentality can lead to mercenary groups who can go world-wide to track and “neutralize” a hacker with a “fuck your laws” mentality.
Other security experts say a more aggressive posture is unlikely to have a significant impact in the near term in the overall fight against cybercriminals and Internet espionage. Veteran government and private officials warn that much of the activity is too risky to make sense, citing the chances for escalation and collateral damage.
Who’s really to blame? Hackers are getting more aggressive with their attacks and more silent with their invasions, but are they the bored teen in his/her bedroom looking for lulz, or other corporations and governments looking for an advantage? To underscore the real threat, an example of the recently discovered to be American/Israeli made Flame rootkit is cited as a major failure:
Mikko Hypponen, the well-regarded chief research officer at Finland’s F-Secure Oyj, told the Reuters Summit his company had a sample of Flame in 2010 and classified it as clean and later missed another virus called Duqu that was suspected of being backed by Western governments.
“These are examples how we are failing” as an industry, Hypponen said. “Consumer-grade antivirus you buy from the store does not work too well trying to detect stuff created by the nation-states with nation-state budgets.”
Because some national governments are suspected in attacks on private Western companies, it is natural that some of the victims want to join their own governments to fight back.
Armed responses from corporate militias are more of a colorful afterthought for now, but with the Pentagon wanting to use military force on hackers and recent reports of Obama wanting to use drones for domestic surveillance, corporate militias may not be that far off.