New PS3 Game: Hacking for Dollars
The more popular a technology is, the more of a hacker target
it can become. Microsoft inevitably has this problem with its
Windows and Internet Explorer products. The Super Bowl XLI
Web site—the largest globally televised sporting event—was
hacked and seeded with malware in 2007. Now, Sony’s popular
PlayStation 3 (PS3) is in the hackers’ crosshairs.
In early July, security researchers at SophosLabs spotted malicious SQL-injection database code on the U.S. PS3 Web site and
reported: “The malicious code on the site ‘runs’ a fake anti-virus
scan and alert message in an attempt to scare unsuspecting computer users into purchasing a bogus security product.” The goal?
To snatch credit-card info, of course. This is particularly worrisome
for Sony, with its large youth-based audience: Many users who
come to sites such as this cannot easily tell the difference between what is and what is not a
So, who’s at fault? “The buck stops with Sony,” Graham Cluley, SophosLabs’ senior technologist, told Baseline. “It doesn’t appear that they, or whomever they hired to do this site, did
the proper error checking. But we shouldn’t just point the finger at Sony. They were part of a
targeted criminal act.” The researchers see “literally thousands of sites a day” with these kinds
of hacks, according to Cluley.
The scariest part of such database injections isn’t the credit-card angle; it’s the potential
for hackers to tweak the initial code on the hacked site to create bot-networks that sit in the
background, eat computer resources and watch Web activity to collect yet additional identity
information. Such are the glories of a free and open Internet. Let’s hope the hackers don’t one
day bust in on actual PlayStation consoles or games. Sheesh.
for Good ‘Locale’
Some up-and-coming technology-driven minds
over at MIT have gained the attention of one
of Apple’s likely future competitors: Google. As
part of the development process for Google’s
mobile-device platform, Android, the search-behemoth has been doling out funds—with
plans to give upward of $10 million—targeted
at future products it thinks can provide them
with a competitive edge.
Google awarded MIT students $25,000
to spur development of their location-based
product, Locale, which allows you to personalize your communications device based on
time and location. Think automatic shut-off in
a restaurant, or call forwarding to a landline
or other phone. Locale taps the global-posi-tioning features of the Android platform to
enable the device to respond intelligently to
The challenge for Google is that Apple has
a bit of a head start: Release 2.0 of the iPhone’s
application code is open to developers now. Let
the mobile-applications games begin!
BY THE NUMBERS
Growth Rate of IT Ops
The Little Robot That Could
Source: Computer Economics’ “2008/2009 IT Spending,
Staffing and Technology Trends,” July 2008
How do you get sick kids to take their medicine? You build
talking robots with train-like features and put them in children’s hospitals.
Inspired by the children’s book The Little Engine That
Could, JR TUG is a mobile robot that transports medical equipment and supplies, and has drawers full of
medicine in its “caboose.” The robot was developed
to grant a wish for seven-year-old cancer patient
Jericho Rajninger, who had to take more than 4,000
pills as part of his chemotherapy treatment. Jericho
realized that taking so many pills could frighten
children, and he thought that having medicine delivered by a train-like device would make the experience
a little more inviting.
Adding to the overall train experience, JR TUG talks
as it moves through the hospital floors. It says things like
“Thanks, from the bottom of my caboose” and “Choo
choo, gotta run.”
JR TUG, built by Aethon, was donated to the UCSF
Children’s Hospital through the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
It is also used at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and
Carolinas Healthcare Systems.
“The top three priorities
for IT management this
year are improving IT
service levels, improving
disaster recovery capabilities and increasing
IT security. Developing
new systems—last year’s
off the top-three list
From the Computer Economics’
“Trends” major findings.