Security Woes

Crackers are always on the lookout for new chances to access your accounts, either if you’re a private / regular internet user, or a multinational corporation like Sony who recently fell victim to several attacks affecting their flagship console, the PS3, and their Playstation Network.

It began when their PS3 private keys, that sign all data transactions and operations, got public. I won’t digress here, you can find a lot of info on Google, just look for GeoHot / Sony. The latest attack to the PSN has managed a downtime of a week by the time I’m writing this, and only today Sony has come forth with a press release on this issue, as well as a FAQ, saying that all their entire PSN user base got their data compromised, including Credit Card data.

I’m yet to believe that Sony hasn’t released the full extent of the information about the attack, so for now there are three crucial steps that PSN users should follow:


  • If you’re using the PSN password in any other service / account, change it. Change it everywhere. You are probably using the same email address you used on the compromised PSN account.
  • Change the password of the email address you used on your PSN account.
  • Change your credit card number, or cancel the card and get a new one. If you can’t do this, be on the lookout for strange credit card transactions and never, ever, release the confirmation code to anyone. Sony states that the cc confirmation code wasn’t stored on their database.

Read the FAQ, they have more info there, but follow these three steps and when the PSN is up again, change your password for something unique, not used on any other account / service and remove your credit card number from the account.


Still on Security

With the advent of social networking and connected services, we’ve witnessed a lot of centralized authentication methods. It’s now usual for us to access services that use other site’s accounts to authenticate, like “Login with Facebook” or “Authorize on Twitter”.

This can be very useful because you don’t have to memorize a ton of different passwords but, if you see your Facebook, Twitter or Google account compromised, all those services using “third-party” authentication will be compromised as well… so what to do?


  • Use strong passwords. Having a password like your birthday date is not secure. Having your pet name, girlfriend, mom, dad, favorite actor is not secure. Any dictionary word is not secure. Use random stuff with numbers, signs, uppercase and lower case, like “1M4ecur3!?”
  • Use a password manager like 1Password for Mac or Keepass Password Safe for PC. Not only you’ll have an encrypted and organized password safe, but these apps can also generate random passwords.
  • Use HTTPS always when possible. This will encrypt your traffic to these sites. Twitter, Google, Facebook, all of them have HTTPS options, you just have to go to your account settings and turn it on. Facebook can even warn you by email and SMS when other devices accesses your account. Google has a 2 Step Authorization process for your account, using verification codes and an app for your mobile device that works like a token, giving you real-time generated verification codes.
  • Don’t use free Wi-Fi. Sure, it’s cool to use a free hotspot, but you never know who’s listening. People using free Wi-Fi are exposed to virus and password sniffing. This can happen in your neighbors unprotected Wi-Fi or even your school’s network.
  • The usual crap: use a secure OS. Mac OS X and Linux are secure by nature. If you must use Windows, turn on the system’s firewall and get another one, as well as an AntiVirus. Be sure that they’re always updated.
  • Don’t trust your passwords to anyone.

Remember, even with all these precautions you’re never totally safe.


Gaming Rants

I don’t write about Video Games for some time now, but the latest news from E3 kinda triggered this post. So, with no further a do, my rants 😀

Nintendo 3DS

As usual, Nintendo invest more into their portables than the home consoles and this is obvious because the portable consoles have always saved Nintendo from being defeated by the competition. From what I’ve seen so far, the 3DS seems impressive.

The 3D screen is a huge sales factor, but the true value of this console it’s in the kick it delivers. The demos shown on E3 make me think that the 3DS graphics engine is way more powerful than a GameCube and a PSP and until Sony releases the PSP 2, which they should have announced on E3 instead of milking the fail that is the PSP Go, the 3DS will sucker-punch the competition out of the map.

Third party support has never been so strong for a portable that is yet to be released, but still, I can see the 3DS being plagued by ports of old games, like it happened to the PSP when it was launched.

It’s been rumored a few changes to the DS Ware shop, which I hope they do because compared to other console marketplaces it sucks. Another rumor is that the 3DS will feature even more social and network capabilities, which is always good. I really hope they include a faster and more friendly version of their Opera browser and deliver a working Internet experience and not just a gimmick like we have on the DSI.

The future will tell, but I’m betting that this will probably be the best portable Nintendo has ever made. Don’t screw this one up Nintendo!!

What I’ve been Playing

As a BIG Mario fan, of course I bought the new Super Mario Galaxy 2. At first it may look as “more of the same” but Nintendo really managed to improve the game mechanics by including new power-ups and 2.5D levels.

Sometimes it feels you’re playing New Super Mario Bros Wii but suddenly the entire level transforms and you’re back to the full Super Mario Galaxy 3D experience . The basics are still the same and there are common elements between the games, but the new stuff is really fun and has a big addiction level, not to mention that this time you have Yoshi 😀

What amazes me (in a mixed way) is that Nintendo continues to provide tutorials and in-game help for new players. Super Mario Galaxy 2 even comes with a DVD explaining how to play the game as well as the Superguide that plays some stages for you (if you want) when you die more than 10 times in a level… I understand that this is way to get more inexperienced gamers to buy and play the game, but isn’t it part of the fun to find out how to finish a stage???

Old school baby… those were the times 😉

Besides SMG2, I went back to finish Metroid Prime 3 Corruption. Sadly, I remembered that I didn’t finished Prime and Prime 2 Echoes… although I have the games for the Gamecube, I managed to get my hands on a Metroid Trilogy copy and I’m going back to the start!

The Metroid Prime Trilogy games are still 3 of the best games ever made for Nintendo consoles, and the collector’s edition for the Wii allows you to play the 2 first games as the 3rd one, with the wii mote pointing at the screen, and believe me, it’s a all new experience to play Prime and Echoes that way.

And that’s all… there’s not much time to play games nowadays but I’ll have more time next month when I’m on vacations 😀

Metal Gear Solid 4 – Guns of Marketing

Metal Gear Solid 4 Pal Cover

It’s not a secret that the Metal Gear Solid series is one of my favorites videogame series, I’ve even mentioned it here, in this blog a few times.

Recently, Konami and Kojima released worldwide the fourth (actually there’re are a few side stories / games in the series, but this is the 4th in the canon of MGS) and probably the most expected and desired game in the series. This is the first MGS for a new generation console, in this case, an exclusive for the PS3.

Kojima had been teasing us for the past two years with trailers and screenshots of MGS4, and even last month the question among gamers still was “Is it as good as it looks?”. Well, the answer is: it’s even better! If you’re not a fan or know the series, this is not a regular game where you’re presented to a universe and play along. MGS4 is the final chapter of an epic story and it demands that you know all that’s behind. You get to know old characters and new ones as well, you can play the entire game without knowing who Solid Snake is, but MGS4 is like a movie that’s part of a trilogy, if you didn’t watch the other episodes you won’t enjoy it properly. You get some very well placed flashbacks during the game to help understand the plot, but prior knowledge of the series is advised.

That said, let me tell you that MGS4 is definitely the game of the year for the PS3. The graphics are superb, the full Dolby Digital sound is breathtaking and the plot, well… as I said, it’s the best this game can offer. The gameplay is good but with a high learning curve, still, while this is still a sneaking undercover game, you can pick a different path of action and start dumping ammo on your enemy. I advise you to master both methods because the game will demand both at certain stages.

I could write a full review of this game, but that’s not the point of this post. You can get very well written reviews on IGN or Gamespot. I want to point out a few coolness points on MGS that I wasn’t expecting.

This first is the branding effort you’ll see during the game. Kojima’s team designed some clever brands that are placed in the game, either for products / services (you’ll understand when you play the game) but perhaps what will get your attention at first, is the heavy product placement.

Besides advertising and to give a more realistic feeling to the game, certain brands and product will be available for you to interact, like the Re-Gain powerdrink you can use to get some energy boost for Snake or a Playboy Magazine that you use to lure and distract enemies (and take a peek at the centerfolds yourself).

Still, the big champion of product placement in MGS4 is… Apple! You’ll notice quite in the beginning of the game, when you’re being contacted by Otacon, his office is crammed with Apple hardware, from Cinema Displays to Mac Pro’s, you’ll spot them in a glimpse. Though this could be just a nod to Apple, the most screaming product placement ever in a game is the iPod that Snake has in his personal items, that can be used during the missions like a real iPod. You can control it like you would control an iPod in the real life, through an interface on the screen. The iPod comes loaded with podcasts and the soundtracks from previous Metal Gear Solid games, and you can find more tracks during the game as well as download more tracks from the Internet.

Metal Gear Solid 4 is a great game, no doubt about that, but it uses a kind of in game marketing that the videogame industry is eager to explore for some time now. I don’t care for in game ads and product placement, as long as it’s done tastefully and with some brains. Let me tell you that playing MGS4 while listening to a podcast via Snake’s iPod is a different but pleasant experience 😀

Closing down this long post: Metal Gear Solid 4 – Recommended! Even with all the product placement and virtual iPods in the mix 😀

Blu-Ray to PSP Movie Transfer

Sony is kicking ass at CES 🙂 After announcing Skype for the PSP Slim (yeah phaty doesn’t have the RAM to handle it), they now announce a upcoming BR profile 2.0 that will include a portable versions of the movies inside the disc to upload to portable devices like the PSP. That 16Gb Memory Stick will come in handy…

[tags]Sony, CES, Playstation 3, PSP, Playstation, Playstation Portable, Blu-Ray, movies[/tags]