Cyberpunk news for the week includes a visit from a spy, a nosy pizza shop, and a retired killer (Hail Hydra). Let’s get to the news.
Nixon’s Shadow: Stupidity, Lies, and Audio Tape
In a move that’s drawing comparisons to the “Saturday Night Massacre”, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. A statement, hand delivered to the FBI headquarters in DC by Trump’s personal bodyguard (not a member of Secret Service) while Comey was in Los Angeles at an FBI event. The firing kicked off a week of revelations from both the White House and the FBI. Numerous outlets report that Comey was most likely fired for his unwillingness to pledge personal loyalty to Trump back in January, being “taken aback” by the question, refusing to preview his senate testimony for Trump, requesting additional resources to continue his probe into any Trump-Russia connections in 2016, and many other reasons.
To make matters worse, the response from the White House has made all their reasons suspect. In the bizarre letter sent to the FBI, where Trump alleged Comey clearing him of investigation on three separate occasions, a claim that’s since been refuted, it’s cited that Comey was fired for his handling of the Clinton email scandal in July, 2016. Yet in an interview later in the week, Trump clarified his position in the firing, stating that he would’ve fired Comey regardless, confirming earlier sources that claimed Trump wanted the former Director gone because of the Russia investigation and was searching for a reason with a hint of legitimacy.
This was supported by Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claiming that it was time for everyone to “move on” from Russia related investigations. That came just hours after Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Trump in the Oval Office for a closed-door meeting. In attendance was Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, who US intelligence agencies have identified as a spy, recruiter, and is cited as the constant contact for former National Security Advisor Micheal Flynn when he was under investigation by the FBI.
When the pictures were made public, the White House was in an uproar, as they assumed the Russian government would not advertise what was supposed to be a private meeting. So the White House released its own photos of the event, with Ambassador Kislyak conveniently removed from the set.
Earlier that day, as if following the Watergate playbook, Trump also met with former Nixon National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger.
In response to all this, an enraged Trump took to Twitter early Friday morning, as he is wont to do, and flirted with the idea of ending all briefings and communicate with the press only through approved memos to better the degree of “accuracy” he finds lacking in the media over his statements and actions.
Trump’s most threatening tweet went full Nixon and threatened Comey with tapes that he claims may prove the validity of his claims that he’d been cleared of investigations. While the White House won’t deny the existence of a recording system in the Oval Office, sources close to the former Director say he’s “not worried” about any taped conversations he’s had with Trump being made public.
John Oliver Helps People Find FCC Comment Page to Save Net Neutrality, FCC Claims 350,000 Comments Lost
The Daily Show alum and host of Last Week Tonight, John Oliver, has long been an opponent of the FCC and attempts to limit net neutrality. With news that FCC director Ajit Pai intends to further internet privatization, Oliver discovered that, though open for comment, the FCC buried its comment section behind several pages, making it impossible to find. To address this, Oliver’s show bought the domain gofccyourself.com to redirect commenters to the right spot to let the FCC know they want net neutrality to remain in place.
Some 350,000 commenters filed feedback on the FCC website, and at one point crashed it. However, the FCC is now claiming that all those comments were lost after a supposed DDoS attack.
Senators Ron Wyden and Brian Schatz, both Democrats from Oregon and Hawaii respectively, sent a letter to Pai demanding an explanation for losing hundreds of thousands of filings. In the meantime, the FCC claims to have upgraded to a cloud service that ought to be more stable. Commenters are again free to file until August 16.
Macron Campaign Trapped Fancy Bear in Honeypot
French elections faced a bit of drama near voting day when centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron’s campaign was hacked. Security experts pointed to Fancy Bear for the attack, a hacking group Crowdstrike claims is funded by GRU, which made many anxious as they were behind the DNC hacks in 2016. For many people, this was a deciding factor in the US elections.
While the hack didn’t have the same effect in France as the US, and there are many reasons why. What prevented Fancy Bear from having an influence was a prepared campaign with proper opsec.
In an interview with the New York Times, Mounir Mahjoubi, Digital Director for the Macron campaign, said they expected Russian interference and set up several honeypots to slow the potential leak of information by overwhelming Fancy Bear with false data. “We created false accounts, with false content,” said Mahjoubi. “We did this massively, to create the obligation for them to verify, to determine whether it was a real account. That forced them to waste time, by the quantity of the documents we put in and documents that might interest them.”
One such example was a Bitcoin invoice for “bath salts” that were allegedly sent to the French National Assembly. Further examination of the accompanying blockchain would prove this transaction to be a fake.
Cortana Back in Hologram Form
Microsoft no doubt loves Halo, so much so that they named their real-world digital assistant after the in-game AI, Cortana. But one Halo fan took it a step further, rendering Cortana as a 3-D hologram that resembles her in-game appearance. Though he claims there’s still much work to do, it’s far beyond anything else available on the market today.
Your move, Alexa.
Oslo Pizzeria Serves Up Customer Faces
HP Keylogger Discovered
Keyloggers are a useful tool for malicious hackers intent on recording everything a target types on their keyboard, but most wouldn’t suspect the company that makes their laptops to include it by design. A new report by security company Modzero suggests that several models of HP laptops have a Conextant driver to support headphones and capture keystrokes.
HP has since responded to the news, denying knowledge of the keylogger’s existence and offering an apparent fix on their site.
Marvel, Trump, and Hail-Hydra.com
In the world of comics and movies, Nazi-offshoot, terrorist organization, and collection of the world’s worst villains, Hydra, is whispered in secret between members to make sure their evil deeds are fulfilled but never discovered. In the real world, the “Hail Hydra” greeting is a form of passive protest.
Earlier this week it was discovered that hail-hydra.com redirects to whitehouse.gov, directly to Trump’s personal profile. It’s unclear who’s behind the redirect, but this isn’t the first time Trump has been depicted as a comic book villain. Last year Trump enjoyed a short stint as a M.O.D.A.K. (Mental Organism Designed As America’s King) before being quickly dispatched by Captain America.
Scott Admits Failing With Prometheus, Used Insight to Create Alien: Covenant
With Alien: Covenant a week away, Ridley Scott reflects on the shortcomings in the series thus far. While there’s been mixed reaction over the series after David Fincher’s turn with Alien 3, Prometheus remains the one that is fun to hate. Scott seems to be in agreement with this assessment to some degree. In a recent interview, Scott said about fans of the series who hated Prometheus “They wanted to see more of the original [monster] and I thought he was definitely cooked, with an orange in his mouth. So I thought: ‘Wow, OK, I’m wrong’.”
A new clip was released to show just how Scott’s approach to sci-fi horror has changed, but the whole movie will be ready for fans to critique on May 19th.
Metal Gear Solid Movie to be Made by a Fan
Jordan Vogt-Roberts, fresh off his time with giant apes in Kong: Skull Island, spoke with Glixel and said he’s ready to get to work on a passion project few every thought would be made, a Metal Gear Solid movie. After discovering that Sony was working on an adaptation to the tactical espionage stealth series, Jordan lobbied for the job to direct through his agents, telling them “You guys don’t understand how important this is for me, how much I love it, how much I love the tone, the characters, the idiosyncratic nature of what these games were and what they mean to me, and there’s no greater project that I would rather embark upon.”
Ultimately, Jordan, a lifelong Metal Gear fan started a working relationship with series creator Hideo Kojima and got the job to direct. But knowing how “dense” the Metal Gear universe is, Jordan devised an unconventional method of working with his writers. He said “I brought in writers, I basically took them on this weird journey where I brought them over to my house and I designed this weird course where I would load up the original Metal Gear and I would have the writer play that for a while, and just teach them this idea of stealth gameplay.”
Blade Runner 2049 Gets New Trailer, Bautista Says it’s Better Than the Original
With a new trailer out everyone, it seems, is excited for Blade Runner 2049, especially the film’s cast. Former wrestler and emerging action star Dave Bautista claims the return to future Los Angeles might outshine the cyberpunk classic.
In a recent interview, Bautista said “I think it’s going to be – and this is hard to say because I know I’m going to get some grief for this – I think it’s going to be better than the first film. And I’m saying that because I think the script is better, it’s deeper. I think it’s a better story, I think it’s told in a better way, and I think it just answers a lot of questions.” Fans will have to wait a few months before deciding that for themselves.
Dredd: Mega-City One
Since the 2012 release of DREDD, fans have begged for a sequel that pairs Karl Urban, Alex Garland, and Adi Shankar again. While that movie doesn’t seem any closer to reality, they’re getting the next best thing. British studio IM Global, games developer Rebellion, and Mark Stern (Battlestar Galactica) have agreed to produce a television series, Judge Dredd: Mega-City One. Dates and networks have yet to be announced.
Paprium: Resurrecting Dead Systems
Got an old Sega Genesis in your attic? Basement? The hallway junk closet? Developers at WaterMelon Games certainly hope so now that their 16-bit cyberpunk brawler Paprium.
In an interview, developers talked about the challenges of creating for a modern audience with tech that’s nearly 20 years old, and how it’s challenging still when that hardware is lost and must be recreated from scratch.
Retro fans are likely to be happy with Paprium, if they’ve got the proper system. WaterMelon Games said that “Paprium is tailor-made for the original Mega Drive hardware; a ROM release or Steam port won’t do it any justice.”
Whatever system they’re currently on, players will be able to take to the streets and brawl it out in on the Sega Genesis later this year.
Observer to be Released on Playstation 4
Cyberpunk horror comes to the PS4 in Observer. In a near-future Crawcow, Poland, Dan, an Observer, steps into the minds of criminals and victims to discern fact from fabrication while running from terror.
Square Enix Pulls Away from IO Interactive, Hitman’s Future in Question
Agent 47 has been in the intelligence and assassination game for 17 years, but he may be headed for retirement. Despite reaching record profits in 2016 Publisher Square Enix has cut ties with Hitman developer IO Interactive despite its positive sales, which means this genetically engineered spy/assassin is on vacation until Diana or the agency calls again.
Warren Spector: System Shock 3 Will Stand Apart From the Crowd
Deus Ex creator Warren Spector is excited about his next game, System Shock 3. The last installment is about 18 years old by now, and its influence is apparent throughout the game industry. That complicates things for Spector and the potential success a revival could have. A recent example of that influence can be seen in the Bethesda space-horror RPG Prey, which Spector is aware of.
In an interview with Polygon, Spector noted the challenges for this upcoming cyberpunk game, saying “I think having more immersive simulation games out there is all to the good. Based on what I’ve seen of Prey so far, there are some similarities but I assure you we’re doing stuff that team didn’t do, just as they did stuff we’re not. I’m not worried about people getting confused.”
We covered quite a bit but we’re sure there’s more cyberpunk news out there. Let us know what we missed down below or on social media