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First Counter-Hacking, Now Legal Hacking: Sony is Trying to Silence the Media

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Sony, the Japanese company which made its original fortunes by developing Japan’s first tape recorder and later by creating and exporting a high-quality transistor radio, has been in the news a lot lately but not because of the Playstation 4 or anything tied to it.

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Rather, as you may know, Sony Pictures Entertainment, the film studio owned by the conglomerate, was hacked this month by a group which, if not directly tied to North Korea, is sympathetic to the hermit kingdom and claimed its motives were the result of the new movie in which two comedy actors are dispatched by the CIA to assassinate the country’s dictator.

Also read: Sony is Counter-Hackingwith DDoS Attacks 

Sony Itself Breaking the Law

silencing mediaUnderstandably, Sony is quite upset by this turn of events, and last week we reported that it had taken to using DDoS attacks with computers based in Asia to thwart attempts at torrenting some of the movies stolen in the hack. Though the likelihood of the Torrent Sites pursuing legal action or being championed by the federal government is slim, it is important to note that such a tactic is actually illegal in the United States and several people have found themselves behind bars as a result of doing DDoS attacks.

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Sony Using the Law After Breaking It

Sony has not stopped there, however. Sony is not just upset at the people who’ve made a mockery of their network security and leaked troves of sometimes-embarassing documents about them – it’s also now threatening legal action against those who are reporting on the affair. In a letter from Sony Pictures legal counsel David Boies, Sony makes it apparent that they do not understand the laws applying to journalism:

We have reason to believe that you may possess, or may directly or indirectly be given, illegally obtained documents or other information stolen from SPE (the “Stolen Information”), pursuant to the perpetrators’ scheme. The Stolen Information includes, but is not limited to, documents and information protected under U.S. and foreign legal doctrines protecting attorney-client privileged information, attorney work product, and related privileges and protections, as well as private financial and other confidential information and communications of SPE”s current and former personnel and others, confidential personnel data, intellectual property, trade secrets and other business secrets and related communications, and other confidential information. […] If you do not comply with this request, and the Stolen Information is used or disseminated by you in any manner, SPE will have no choice but to hold you responsible for any damage or loss arising from such use or dissemination by you, including any damages or loss to SPE or others, and including, but not limited to, any loss of value of intellectual property and trade secrets resulting from your actions.

Journalists and News Outlets Protected

It has been time and again established in US courts that so long as the journalists or news organizations themselves did not hack or otherwise acquire its sources by illegal means, then they are protected by the 1st ammendment along with a host of judicial precedents.

This is no different than when the New York Times used documents obtained by WikiLeaks to publish some of the most dynamite reporting of our era regarding the War on Terror, treatment of prisoners, and other things the government would rather have remained secret. Bradley Manning, of course, did not have any of the same legal protection since it was he who broke the law. The same standard applies here: the news organizations have not broken the law and therefore have constitutional protection to publish freely; the people who breached Sony’s security, on the other hand, are in deep trouble if they ever get caught.

Aaron Sorkin Opining In Favor of Sony

Sony Pictures Entertainment has the backing of the formidable Aaron Sorkin, who wrote a piece in the New York Times accusing news outlets of helping the hackers by blowing up the data they’ve uncovered. Sorkin’s next big movie, Steve Jobs, has been a subject of some of the articles going around the Internet. Here is a snippet of what he had to say against the news media:

I’m not a disinterested third party. Much of the squabbling between Ms. Pascal and Mr. Rudin was about a movie that’s about to begin shooting, “Steve Jobs,” for which I wrote the screenplay, so my name comes up from time to time. The widely published documents that were stolen include an email to Ms. Pascal in which I advocated going to Tom Cruise for the lead role (I did), a second email from one executive to another speculating that I’m broke (I’m fine) and a third that suggested that I might be romantically involved with a woman whose book I’m using as source material for a new script (I wish). […] I don’t care. Because the minor insults that were revealed are such small potatoes compared to the fact that they were revealed. Not by the hackers, but by American journalists helping them.

While he does not bother justifying the assumption that the hackers themselves are not American (there’s not a lot to prove what nationality the hacker is or is not – a computer in a hotel room in Thailand was used, that much is known), he does justify his accusation that American journalists are “helping” the hackers. He says that since the articles have nothing to do with the public good (nevermind that Sony Pictures executives make racist comments about the president), the journalists are not acting with the public good in mind.

But some might say he’s just acting in defense of the hand that feeds him.

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5 stars on average, based on 2 rated postsP. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at http://ico.phm.link




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2 Comments

  1. Thomas Wolf Tompkins

    December 21, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Well Sony did invent the root kit which has plauged the internet ever since.

  2. Mirco Romanato

    December 22, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    “nevermind that Sony Pictures executives make racist comments about the president”

    nevermind freedom of speech is applied equally to everyone without questions or distinctions.

    Are black people (or half-black in the case of the POTUS) the only permitted to be racists?

    Attacking Zimmerman and the police in the Trayvon Martin case was just RACISM.
    Siding against the victim of a crime (Zimmerman) to score political points supporting the criminal just because he was black (Trayvon Martin) is just plain racism or political opportunism.

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Blockchain Talent Demand Surpasses Supply

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If there’s any group in the global workforce that is sitting pretty it’s blockchain developers. Their success has unparalleled with anything in the stratosphere, yet they’re still receiving offers with compensation packages rivaling that of CEO pay packages. And many of them have already become millionaires from investing in the coins of the market leaders they helped to build, including bitcoin and Ethereum, which means they’re less incentivized to join other projects for the size of the offer alone.

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Decentralized World

The thing to remember about blockchain pioneers is that they set out on the mission of a decentralized world not so that they could be subject to the whims of cryptocurrency prices. They are just as focused on the social impact of the blockchain as they are the success of their respective projects. Consider Ethereum’s Vitalik Buterin, who during the peak of the cryptocurrency market rally at year-end 2017 tweeted the following reminder to his followers –

Buterin went on to use Venezuela as an example, whose economy is in tatters. He was dismayed that bitcoin’s price posts were getting more traction than “how Venezuelans were being rescued by crypto.”

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If the corporate culture reflected Buterin’s mission rather than dangling a six- or seven-digit compensation package in front of recruits, they might have more success attracting top blockchain talent.

Talent Battle

Meanwhile, blockchain startups are creating roadmaps with product release dates obligating them to have top development talent in-house, all of which is leading to projects getting stuck and helping to fuel the hiring frenzy. It’s not solely blockchain startups, however.

Global corporations including certain FANG stocks are no longer waiting on the sidelines as ICOs raise billions of dollars and the cryptocurrency market cap has balloons to nearly $400 billion, all of which has placed a high bounty on the pool for blockchain talent. If you have any doubts, consider again Ethereum co-founder Buterin. As Hacked.com previously reported, Buterin tweeted about having received a job offer from Google.

David Schwartz, whose Twitter profile describes him as “one of the original architects of the XRP network,” told The Wall Street Journal how both a startup and a big tech play attempted to poach one of his team members, each of them offering the Ripple developer a million dollar signing bonus.

Meanwhile, the blockchain, a public immutable ledger where transactions are recorded and joined together in individual blocks, has become a catchphrase, one that can mean the difference between hits on a LinkedIn profile or not. According to the Journal story, there are thousands of available jobs posted on the social platform hunting blockchain talent through the early part of May, reflecting more than a 150% jump versus all of last year.

But just as regulators have said they don’t want to rush into crafting any policy in response to market performance, employers should similarly take a step back before throwing everything but kitchen sinks out to software developers. Some companies are developing talent in-house, which is another route to consider. But overall, hiring companies could be much more effective at recruiting blockchain talent if they understood the mission behind decentralization.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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Crypto Hedge Funds Grow 64% Over the Past Year as Institutions Embrace Digital Currency

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After spending much of the last eight years bashing cryptocurrency, Wall Street is beginning to embrace the digital asset class more intently than ever before. Case in point: the number of cryptocurrency hedge funds has increased 64% over the past year. As it turns out, Goldman Sachs isn’t the only institutional player pivoting toward cryptocurrency.

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The Rise of the Crypto Hedge Fund

There are now 287 hedge funds devoted to cryptocurrency trading, compared with 175 a year ago, according to data from Autonomous Next. Astonishingly, there were only 20 crypto hedge funds in existence in 2016.

Over the past year, at least 100 hedge funds have been launched for the sole purpose of trading cryptocurrency. At this rate, institutions will play an increasingly pivotal role in the digital currency market in the very near future.

Digital currency exchanges are betting big on institutional money. San Francisco-based Coinbase recently unveiled four new products designed to unlock up to $10 billion in institutional capital currently sitting on the sidelines. This includes a new custodial service that will provide institutions with a trusted steward to safeguard their digital assets.

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As for hedge funds themselves, April saw a huge turnaround in terms of profitability, as firms played the crypto-market rebound to great success. In the process, they gained more than 80% compared with March.

The Next Bull Market

Coinbase has put forward the position that institutional capital will be responsible for the next great bull market in cryptocurrency. If 2017 was the year of the retail investor, 2018 and beyond will largely be driven by institutions. A close examination of Google search trends seems to support this view.

The 2017 bull market was accompanied by a wave of new entrants into the cryptocurrency market, as evidenced by the surge in Google search results for terms like “bitcoin” and “cryptocurrency.” If we use the same metrics, we can conclude that cryptocurrency has lost its buzz among new traders. For example, a term like “cryptocurrency” achieved a Google Trends score of 12 in the most recent week, down from a perfect 100 at the start of 2018.

That said, hedge funds are still a long ways away from dominating the crypto market.  In fact, institutional adoption remains weak overall in spite of the recent growth. This was recently pointed out by Tom Lee, the Wall Street crypto analyst leading research at Fundstrat Global Advisors.

In Lee’s view, cryptocurrencies failed to rally during blockchain week because of adoption hurdles at bank as well as a lack of custodial tools among major institutions. Using the same logic, Lee concludes that institutional demand is one of the missing ingredients for a large rally in prices.

However, Lee has maintained a strongly bullish outlook on crypto assets, including a price forecast for bitcoin of $25,000 by the end of the year.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.5 stars on average, based on 410 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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Walmart’s Flipkart Deal: The Dawn of a New Day in India

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It’s the dawn of a new day in India, particularly cross-border investment, thanks to Walmart’s groundbreaking controlling stake in Bengaluru-based e-commerce darling Flipkart. Walmart has tried for years to no avail to enter the South Asian country, until now.

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As a result of the deal, Walmart now has five seats on the online retailer’s board and is poised to play an influential role on the direction of the company — including a possible Flipkart IPO — setting the tone for further investments into the region in the interim.

It’s $16 billion deal values Flipkart at a whopping $21 billion and helps the Arkansas-based big-box retailer to compete more fiercely with Amazon, considering that the integration goes smoothly. Walmart has chosen a controversial target company to kick things off. Flipkart has been at the center of a saga ironically surrounding a previous cross-border investment.

Amazon is fighting back, however, as evidenced by it reaching into the belly of western India including Gujarat’s Bhuj, where some residents don’t even have online access. Amazon is taking an Etsy-like approach there with a focus on handmake craft items that are unique to this corner of the world.

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No doubt corporations around the world have it on their radar as a possible harbinger of more cross-border investment activity to unfold in the region.

Gopal Jain of Mumbai-based private equity firm Gaja Capital told The Financial Times: “India continues to be perceived in global boardrooms as a tough place to do business in.” But he also said that as a result of this deal, global executives have gone from “being on the heels to being on the toes.”

India’s Cross-Border Investment

The overhaul of India’s international investment has been two decades in the making. And while India Prime Minister Narendra Modi says his administration has opened the doors to foreign investment, there still hasn’t been much evidence of that. For instance, cross-border M&A into India totaled $14.5 billion last year, lagging the performance of other developing countries including Brazil and China by as much as 50%, as per Dealogic data cited in the FT.

Indeed, the last time that a deal of anything close to the size of Walmart’s Flipkart acquisition was more than a decade ago in the telecom space when Vodafone took a majority position in Hutchison Essar. That deal left a sour taste in the mouths of would-be pursuers given hostile tax environment in which Vodafone was forced to operate.

Prime Minister Modi has the opportunity to prove to the rest of the world that India indeed is open for investment. If the Walmart deal can somehow help to shake the stigma that is attached to foreign investment into India, as evidenced by the “tax terrorism” that’s been attached with the region, it, in fact, could reflect the dawn of a new day for cross-border M&A in India.

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Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 7 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. Full disclosure, she's invested in bitcoin.




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