Sony’s saga spills over – and four more stories from January

Marc Thaler

Marc Thaler rounds up five tech stories that caught his eye throughout the month.

Out with the old, in with … more of the same?

As far as cybersecurity is concerned, there may be no better way to describe the New Year. January 2015 picked up where December 2014 left off: with the network hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment dominating global headlines. But shortly after the ball dropped in New York’s Times Square, the real-life cyber-thriller that exposed a major Hollywood corporation morphed into a “whodunit?”

The attack, initially confirmed as the work of North Korean cybercriminals, may have been carried out by at least one ex-employee, multiple national news outlets reported.

“North Korea has never before demonstrated any advanced hacking capabilities,” Scott Borg, director and chief economist of the US Cyber Consequences Unit, wrote for CNBC. “More important, it has hardly any way of acquiring those capabilities.

“The cyber-attacks carried out against Sony required a much higher level of skill than North Korea could manage as recently as last spring.”

Do you have a theory? While you formulate one, consider these stories that also made the cut:

Presidential priority

During his State of the Union, President Barack Obama spoke briefly about cybersecurity. He specifically addressed the importance of protecting the country’s children from online threats.

“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids,’” Obama said. “I urge this Congress to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our children's information.”

Remember when silly selfies and incriminating Snapchat videos were the scariest nightmares for today’s underage techies? As Slate noted, the amount of educational and medical data that’s online is rising.

Now hiring

IT security budgets for a number of UK businesses aren’t growing as fast as online threats. As a result, Computer Weekly reported that more businesses are hiring third parties to handle the job.

Citing a study by Pierre Audoin Consultants, the article says “40% of companies buy in security expertise for specific projects, 34% use managed security services and 13% outsource all their cybersecurity provision. Only 21% do not use external cybersecurity resources.”

The Name Game

Shivvy Jervis, creator and host of the popular video series Digital Futures, published a list of the seven “tech superheroes” to watch in 2015. The list serves as Jervis’ prediction of the women she thinks are poised to make major contributions this year.

Food, health, genetics and glue are among the areas where these rising stars are expected to shine.

You can find the full list on CNN.

Cool … or creepy?

What if you could do any number of office jobs simply by waving your hand? (Think about opening the door or making photocopies.) If you work at Epicenter, a high-tech office block in Sweden, these capabilities are within your grasp – literally.

You just need a chip implanted in your hand, BBC reported. The chip is the size of a grain of rice and, according to the report, it will soon be offered on a broader basis in the office park.

“We already interact with technology all the time,” Hannes Sjoblad, chief disruption officer of the development, said in the story. “Today it’s a bit messy – we need pin codes and passwords. Wouldn’t it be easy to just touch with your hand? That's really intuitive.”

Or is it really disturbing? You decide.