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Programming Technology

Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower 221

theodp writes: The idea of programming as a superpower was touched upon by CS teacher Alfred Thompson back in 2010, but it became a rallying call of sorts for the Hour of Code after Dropbox CEO Drew Houston described coding as "the closest thing we have to a superpower" in a Code.org video that went viral. And if the kids who learned to code with the President last week were dubious about the power of coding, this week's decision by Sony to scrap the release of the satirical film The Interview after a massive hack attack should put aside any doubts, especially after new revelations that Sony had reached out to the White House for help and screened the film for administration officials back in June. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Thursday that the Obama Administration is viewing the Sony attack as a "serious national security matter" and is considering a range of possible options as a response, which could turn things into a contest of U.S. Superpower vs. Coding Superpower. In case it wasn't mentioned last week, remember to always use your coding superpower for good, kids!
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Hackers' Shutdown of 'The Interview' Confirms Coding Is a Superpower

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  • Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:19AM (#48634017)

    "Coding" had nothing to do with theaters dropping the movie. What made them drop the movie was a terrorist threat that spoked a bunch of bean counters.

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by buchner.johannes ( 1139593 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:37AM (#48634273) Homepage Journal

      Anytime you are afraid, the terrorists win.

      • by rednip ( 186217 )
        The most effective political weapon is fear most ads tell you to fear the other guy more than anything else, it's also great for keeping people watching/reading the news, plus fear makes most pay taxes and stop at red lights. I'd say that those who that use broken logic of revenge and racism keep terrorism in business as much as anything.
        • It's what the US has been living off since 9/11. They so completely surrendered to fear, it is utterly ridiculous.

          • by rednip ( 186217 )
            Since 9/11? Google 'McCarthyism', then 'yellow journalism', you should recognize that fear has always been a primary driver of human existence.
      • We all know ignoring bullies doesn't always work, but when it does the bully just picks another victim.
      • I don't disagree but turning a blind eye is also being careless.

        In this particular case they should have gone forward. It would have been curious to see how many people didn't go see the movie out of fear for the worst.

      • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @02:29PM (#48636145) Homepage

        Anytime you are afraid, the terrorists win.

        The politicians too. ("Vote for me because my opponent will cave to the terrorists and DESTROY AMERICA!!!")

        Also some manufacturers. ("Senator X, deploy our Ultra-Cool-Sounding-But-Ultimately-Ineffective at all TSA check points. It'll give billions to us, the illusion of security to America, and a cushy job for you once you retire from the Senate.")

        And the power hungry segments of law enforcement organizations. ("We need to be able to raid homes without warrants because TERRORISM!!!")

        The public are the big losers when we get afraid thanks to terrorist threats (real or imagined in order to scare us into submission).

    • Re:Huh? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by RabidReindeer ( 2625839 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @12:18PM (#48634757)

      "Coding" had nothing to do with theaters dropping the movie. What made them drop the movie was a terrorist threat that spoked a bunch of bean counters.

      And it wouldn't surprise me to learn that the bean counters had also been the ones that nixed proper security procedures within Sony.

      Because IT Doesn't Matter. What matters is getting the Low Price Always.

    • My question is whether a Hollywood B movie is a cause worth anyone -- our military and diplomatic people, civilians movie goers -- risking their lives?

      I am not saying I have an answer for that.

      This is not a First Amendment question because in this case a corporation that regards themselves in the business of entertaining people has decided that they don't want to risk releasing this movie right now. Yes, they are caving to a threat, but the movie is their property under Copyright to do what they choose

      • by c ( 8461 ) <beauregardcp@gmail.com> on Friday December 19, 2014 @01:05PM (#48635267)

        My question is whether a Hollywood B movie is a cause worth anyone -- our military and diplomatic people, civilians movie goers -- risking their lives?

        I hate to quote celebrities, but George Clooney makes a good point: [deadline.com]

        "With the First Amendment, you're never protecting Jefferson; it's usually protecting some guy who's burning a flag or doing something stupid."

        • I wish the First Amendment was just protecting a guy burning a flag. Most times, it seems like it's protecting the Westboro Baptist Church's right to protest (and make themselves look like idiots). I hate those people (and given that I'm Jewish, support gay marriage, love science, and am fairly liberal, the feeling's probably mutual), but as much as I'd love to see them silenced for good, I know the slippery slope that would start.

      • by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @02:07PM (#48635883) Homepage

        The first amendment only says "Congress shall make no law..." but everybody understands you don't have much freedom of speech if you end up hanging from the nearest tree afterwards. Because the law isn't supposed to shield me from lawful retaliation like a boycott only retaliation that's already illegal you don't need a specific law for that. But everybody realizes that targeted action against those who exercise a particular freedom is trying to encroach on that freedom. Of course the government can just wash their hands and say we weren't the angry mob holding the rope, but it wouldn't be a very good government.

        Any time you refrain from a lawful action because of the risk or threat of illegal action is a failure of the system of law IMHO. If I can't walk through a part of the city at night they're failing to keep the street safe. If they can't show this movie at the cinema without the risk of terrorism they're failing to keep the country safe. At least if it's a genuine risk and not chicken little screaming that the sky is falling, I mean you can't expect them to be everywhere and prevent every crime everyone's trying to commit. And I don't want to sell out all my rights in an attempt to make it so either. There could be a price for not caving but there's a price for caving too, the terrorists don't need to take away your freedoms if your too afraid to use them anyway.

    • There was a cyberattack threat component, too. FBI warned theaters of possible cyberattacks over 'The Interview' [reuters.com]: The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation released a warning on Tuesday, advising theaters and other businesses associated with Sony Corp's Hollywood studio's film "The Interview" that they could be targeted in cyberattacks. The private document, which was obtained by Reuters, said that "anyone associated with the production, distribution and promotion" of the film "could possibly become the targ

    • Coding also had nothing to do with hacking. You can learn code all day long the rest of your life, and never learn one thing about exploiting remote systems.

      Spear phishing is often in insert vector, and has nothing to do with code whatsoever.

      And at the moment, code may be the superpower that everyone has access to. Meaning its not super, and will soon be not even power.

      If a horse could take a shit directly into the intertubes, this summary would be indistinguishable

  • yathink?

  • What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nedlohs ( 1335013 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:25AM (#48634103)

    What the fuck does emailing a vague and rambling threat of violence have to do with coding and superpowers?

    • Re:What the fuck (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lunix Nutcase ( 1092239 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:29AM (#48634161)

      Nothing. This is just unadulterated clickbait.

      • by Nemyst ( 1383049 )
        This is Slashdot, submitters should know by now that nobody actually clicks the article links.
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Nothing. This is just unadulterated clickbait.

        Welcome to modern media, or as "the media moves more towards gawker, vox, etal." Quality reporting at it's very finest.

    • Why don't these almighty coders stop the terror threat so we can watch the damn movie!
    • Apparently convincing movie theaters not to show a bad movie that they probably didn't want to have to show anyway with a vague threat of violence after cracking Sony's network (yeah, like that hasn't been done before) makes you a superpower.

      The theater chains were probably looking for any excuse not to show that thing but not get left out of the next Sony release they actually do want to screen. This way, Sony eats the shit sandwich rather than the theaters. Also known as "the way it should be if you mak

    • What the fuck does emailing a vague and rambling threat of violence have to do with coding and superpowers?

      Vague and rambling threats is the closest these idiots will ever come to coding and superpowers :-)

  • I feel so lied to. No wonder he could beat up Superman.
  • Superpower (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Translation Error ( 1176675 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:26AM (#48634121)
    It was threats of violence that canceled the movie. Saying coding had anything to do with it is like saying you should be able to patent something that people have been doing for ages, because your implementation is 'on the internet'.
  • So this is a call for what - people to use their computer skills to censor viewpoints they don't agree with?

  • by NotDrWho ( 3543773 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:28AM (#48634149)

    ...it was the legal liability incurred by Sony after the "hackers" threatened actual physical attacks on movie theaters. Sony simply couldn't afford the legal and financial risk that even one theater might be bombed or attacked. The hacking part of it had no bearing on that.

    • How would Sony be liable for that? Do they have some kind of responsibility to secure the theaters they do not own?
    • by sholden ( 12227 )

      Some movie theaters backed down not Sony.

      Sony of course then cancelled the release - they're pretty dumb but even they can work out that releasing your movie with a bunch of the large chains not showing it is a sure fire way to bomb at the box office. The reason for those chains not showing the movie is irrelevant to that decision.

    • I don't believe that Sony would have considered it a credible threat if they had not just experienced an enormous server hack.

  • by Hartree ( 191324 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:29AM (#48634159)

    By this thinking, wouldn't threatening to plant a bomb would be a superpower?

  • Define "Good" (Score:4, Insightful)

    by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:39AM (#48634307)

    Telling people to use coding for "good" is a very subjective matter. Exposing corruption is a "good" thing, and when law enforcement and Government agencies ignore corruption or become complicit in the corruption, dumping this information to the public is one of few viable options.

    Reading the summary (nope, I refused to follow these links) indicates that "good" from their perspective is maintaining the status quo and allowing the corruption to continue unchecked.

  • Publicity stunt (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meta-monkey ( 321000 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:51AM (#48634437) Journal

    It looked like a middling movie, but now it's the most talked about picture of the year. I bet they'll clean up on DVD sales.

    And superpowers? You act like breaking into somebody's computers, copying their private shit, then making bomb threats is something inspiring? No. It's not. It's criminal.

    I am a little conflicted. I still can't say "good job" to people who break into somebody else's computers. Despite Sony trying to break into millions of computers. Sony is one of the most evil corporations on the planet. So it's kind of like get incensed that Sauron's ring got stolen and melted. I mean, it was his ring.

    I'll channel Gene Wilder from Willy Wonka, in the scene where Violet Beauregarde is going to eat the gum that turns her into a blueberry and he mutters quietly to no one in particular, "No. Stop. Don't."

    • It looked like a middling movie, but now it's the most talked about picture of the year. I bet they'll clean up on DVD sales.

      Except that Sony has claimed they will not distribute it in any form.

      • by danlip ( 737336 )

        my prediction: in two weeks they'll announce that they've changed their mind, supposedly under pressure from the people advocating for freedom of artistic expression, but really because it's a publicity stunt to drive up sales. There may even be a theatrical release. If they had released it in December they would have had a flop on their hands, because it's a bad movie (one reviewer said it was "about as funny as a communist food shortage, and just as protracted") and it would be competing with the other Ch

      • That's how the publicity stunt works. People all over the internet are screaming about how awful and terrible this is. Fucking John McCain has commented on how Sony shouldn't cow and respond to these threats. Right? US senators are urging Sony to release their movie.

        Give it a week, and after some soul* searching, chats with their spiritual advisor, support from their friends and family, and a big-girl cry, Sony will release their movie to thunderous applause and ticket sales.

        * lololololololol implying anyon

  • We're in a temporary bubble as society adjusts to technology. This, too, will end.

  • by penandpaper ( 2463226 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @11:54AM (#48634471) Journal
    If only there was a government agency that could secure American communications by ensuring encryption was secure. They could help find and track zero day exploits and notify the company's of said exploits to get them resolved. They could work with industry to help promote secure communications and identify weaknesses. It would be like an agency to promote national secur... Oh, wait...
  • The actions of all of the major players in this story make no sense based on the known facts. The threat by the hackers to cause a 9/11 style attack if the film was released had no credible support (at least known to me). I know lawyers are risk adverse, but it is hard for me to imagine how Sony could legitimately be a target of lawsuits if the attack actually happened (not that such suits would not be filed, merely that Sony should be able to easily get them all bundled into a few cases and dismissed).
    The
  • I can throw a rock through someone's window, climb into their house, get a bunch of their personal info, and publicize it. SUPERPOWER!

    I can put a tap on their phone line at the demarc box, record everything from their landline until they notice the intrusion, and publish it all. SUPERPOWER!

    I can dig through their garbage for carelessly-discarded confidential papers. Heck, I can just count their beer and wine bottles, and publicize that. SUPERPOWER!

    Maybe not the lamest claim ever, but it'll do for today.

  • Large corporations have the revenues, population, and political strength of a small country. Countries may be starting to treat them like other countries, e.g. make treaties, or go to war with them. Examples North Korea versus Sony; Europe versus Google.

    There have been movies about this, such as Blad Runner and Roller Ball where the world is ruled by corporations and nations are shadows.
  • That's the superpower at work here.

    .
  • How much coding was involved? I'm not aware of the mechanics of the break-in. It could have been pure social engineering. It could have been a mole. That doesn't involve any coding. It could have been spotting a vulnerability. People who do that usually do some coding, but such attacks involve a lot of analysis of existing code as opposed to creating new code. The actual attack may require code; but it's usually not a lot. So. "Coding" as the "super-power" behind the attack? Meh.

  • There was a scene where Bridges was coding something and said "I feel a little like Santa Claus."

    That's a superpower.

  • The US has lost its first cyberwar to North Korea, I read in the newspaper today. I think it's utter bullshit. This is not a cyberwar between two countries. Nothing of relevance has been lost. So one major companie got hacked and they lost all their data and have to pull back a movie - how important is that? I think it is quite big, but nothing compared to war between countries. If NK could shutdown the powergrid, take over some drones and use them to attack the US Navy with just online hacking, that would

  • Hacking, and the reaction to it from our Democrat elites, proves that North Korea is a superpower.

  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Friday December 19, 2014 @02:59PM (#48636467) Journal

    This is the stupidest conclusion I've seen in 2014 and I've had the US government and the WHOLE INTERNET aggressively providing strong candidates all year.

  • With great [coding] powers comes great responsibility, to earn a huge profit for your labor.

There is no likelihood man can ever tap the power of the atom. -- Robert Millikan, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1923

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