25 Apr 2011

Three Big Lessons from Cloud hype & Sony vs. Anonymous

Casual Interest No Comments

A hacker (as in, tinkerer) figured out a way to turn a Sony PlayStation into a computer.  On Jan 22, 2010 GeoHot figured out how to get around the digital locks on the PlayStation. He documented the process on his blog and many people watched with earnest.

imageSony did not find this funny. George shared his knowledge with the world, so Sony went after sites like YouTube demanding information on who posted the information to their site. Youtube complied and Sony was able to track George down. They sued him and the lawsuit was settled (April, 2011) with George agreeing to never try and hack Sony products going forward.  They also used their considerable power to threaten the http://grafchokolo.com/ blog for posting information under thread of jail time.

Which brings us to Anonymous.

anonymous_logoAnonymous is group comprised with many users. It’s hard to explain what Anonymous is, who they are, or where their focus will be next.  You should read the wiki article for a thorough explanation.

Suffice it to say that Anonymous wields considerable online power through it’s anarchistic anti-establishment organization.  If you can call it organization; this Forbes article references the 4chan group as a hive mind. Perhaps that is the best way to describe the group.

In my opinion, the most interesting thing about anonymous is how it represents a functional manifestation of an organization that is primarily chaotic in its inner workings.  Based on my limited knowledge, there is no hierarchy – no cemented leadership.

Anonymous selects individuals or organizations who’s actions are contrary to the Anonymous’ philosophy, ambitions, or goals. These targets have ranged from white supremacist to Scientology.

Anonymous disagreed with the Sony lawsuit against GeoHot. On April 5th, Anonymous declared war on Sony. Here’s the “press release” which begins:

Congratulations, Sony.

You have now received the undivided attention of Anonymous. You recent legal action against our fellow hackers, GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo, has not only alarmed us, it has been deemed wholly unforgivable.

Well, it looks like Anonymous has either demonstrated their considerable power again or Sony is blaming Anonymous for their own ineptitude.

Sony says they’re in the process of ‘rebuilding’ the PlayStation Network because of an external intrusion.

Right now there is a debate raging of whether this PSN outage is due to Anonymous.

There are probably many consumers who are angry about the fact they can’t play their PS3 games online.  I have no doubt that Sony is getting flooded with calls and in these calls I’m sure they’re pulling no punches and telling the customers that hackers broke the network.

Either way, I see this as another major cloud failure right on the heels of Amazon’s fiasco last week.

At least we have some very valuable lessons here:

  1. The Cloud doesn’t necessarily live up to the hype. If a company with Amazon’s size and experience can screw it up so badly, anyone can.
  2. Make sure your cloud provider doesn’t get embroiled in legal fights that are too high profile. On either side of which-ever issue, there may be ramifications for your service provider’s actions that affect you or your business directly.
  3. That while we weren’t looking, laws where passed that gave major, multinational corporations the power to have citizens arrested for speaking or sharing information.  It is now a crime (as in Jail) to pay money for consumer electronics, take them home, do whatever you want with them, and tell your friends about it.  Running Linux on a PS3 shouldn’t be a crime you could go to jail for. Pirating games and such, maybe so – but that’s not what this guy did.

As a side bar – did you know the US Military runs a supercomputer comprised on Sony PlayStation 3 game consoles?

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