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  1. BitTorrent Inc. released a new version the popular BitTorrent client uTorrent this week. The release aims to make it easier for users to avoid a highly criticized Bitcoin miner which was bundled with the previous 3.4.2 version. The company understands that the controversy "eroded" the trust of some users, but hopes to keep them on board. Last month many uTorrent users were surprised to see that their favorite BitTorrent client came bundled with the “Epic Scale†Bitcoin miner. What made things worse was that, according to some, the application was installed silently without asking for explicit permission. uTorrent’s parent company BitTorrent Inc. denied these allegations but took the complaints seriously. The Bitcoin miner was quickly suspended until further notice. Based on the negative backlash from users it was recently announced that the “offer†would not be reinstated. The uTorrent team offered a public apology and said it misjudged how users would respond. “We acknowledge again that we misjudged how this offer would be received, and we apologize to users who have objected to it or who had trouble uninstalling that software. We understand this has already eroded some users’ trust in μTorrent,†BitTorrent Inc. Jory Berson said. To further clarify the situation the uTorrent development team decided to release a new version this week. The bump from 3.4.2 to 3.4.3 should help to steer people away from the tainted version. “This new release is in part to make it easy for our users to identify which version of μTorrent to pursue,†Berson notes. While the official site no longer offers downloads that include the bundled Epic Scale Bitcoin miner, BitTorrent Inc. warns that third-party sites may still include it with the older release. “It is important to note that if you are not downloading μTorrent software directly from us, that some third party distributors may have the older version with the Epic Scale offer, Berson says. “This would only be a very small number, but to be sure you are installing the version you want, look for 3.4.3 or download directly from us,†he adds. The BitTorrent mainline client, which included the same Bitcoin miner, has been updated from version 7.9.2 to version 7.9.3. The latest releases of both uTorrent and BitTorrent can be downloaded through the official sites.
  2. The overall Sony brand has reportedly taken a major hit in terms of consumer perception in the wake of the hacks against Sony Pictures and the ensuing fallout. The controversy has pushed media and technology giant to its worst levels in six years, according to new research service YouGov, discovered by Variety. YouGov's BrandIndex is calculated by asking people:"If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?" This is then calculated into a score that can range from 100 to -100, with a zero being a neutral position. Sony's score this year began at 13, dropping to 11 on November 24 when the Sony hack was first made public. It only fell further from there as the hackers posted troves of internal Sony documents, including executive salaries, personal emails, and even movie scripts. Things got even worse for Sony following week's cancellation of The Interview, the controversial James Franco/Seth Rogen movie apparently at the heart of the cyberattack, which the FBI says came from North Korea. As of Friday, December 19, Sony's score was 3, a six-year low. YouGov points out that this could fall further, as The Interview's cancellation has drawn much displeasure from some, while United States president Barack Obama has even said Sony "made a mistake" in scuttling the movie's release. This isn't the first time Sony's brand image has taken a hit in recent years. The company's BrandIndex score dropped off in April 2011 when the PlayStation Network was breached. Millions of accounts were compromised, and the service itself didn't return to full functionality for weeks. For more on the fallout from the Sony Pictures hack, be sure to read GameSpot sister sites CNET and CBS News. The YouGov BrandIndex is measured by interviews with 4,300 people every weekday from a representative US population sample.
  3. The hacking trial of Gottfrid Svartholm has ended its first week, but not without controversy. Today TF catches up with Kristina Svartholm on the past few days' developments and we also reveal criticism of Danish police after information provided by a man "with a grudge" against Gottfrid was used in court. I t’s been a long time in the making but this week the trial of Gottfrid Svartholm finally got underway in Denmark. The Swede and a still-unnamed 21-year-old co-defendant stand accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC in what’s being described as the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country. Surprise The trial began on Tuesday but after less than 25 minutes proceedings had to be halted after the prosecution submitted a 27-page document and 92 slides that the defense claimed not to have seen before. Michael Juul Eriksen, defending the 21-year-old, complained but deputy public prosecutor Anders Riisager said there was no obligation to provide all documents up front. On top of the surprise documentation, the prosecution also provided a never-seen-before video recorded by police when Gottfrid was arrested in Cambodia during 2012. It reportedly showed the Swede’s apartment messy and turned upside down. Gottfrid’s defense lawyer Luise Høj branded the video as “irrelevant†and this start to proceedings didn’t impress Gottfrid’s mother Kristina either. “Such efforts to disorder the defense and affect the jury are, in my opinion, unworthy of a civilized court process,†Kristina told TF. “I guess I am very naive in this, but I think that representatives of the community should behave better than that – justice should be considered more important and be paid more respect to than in the way that the prosecutor behaved to begin with that first day. But maybe Denmark has its own ethics in this respect.†Chat logs In presenting the case, senior prosecutor Maria Cingali referred to chat logs that took place between two hackers – one allegedly Gottfrid (My Evil Twin) and the other the 21-year-old (Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat). A report in The Local said the logs not only contained chats discussing the hacking of CSC’s database, but also personal details that correspond with those of the 21-year-old. Remote access Speaking to the court on Wednesday, Gottfrid continued with the same defense strategy employed in his Swedish case – that third parties had access to his computer and carried out the hacking from there. The 29-year-old also revealed that he’d previously given the police four other nicknames of individuals who had access to his computer. Eraser, Nohyb, RBL and Ripley were reportedly known online as The Lattice Team but Anders Riisager wanted their real names – Gottfrid refused. “I do not want be called a traitor or a snitch,†he said, going on to criticize the efforts of the prosecution in finding the potential culprits. “The motivation to investigate has been equal to zero,†he added, pointing out that the Danish authorities had been in possession of these names since 2013. “There has been every opportunity to find out their names. You have had more than a year to do so,†Gottfrid noted. “Smear†campaign In his cross-examination, Riisager invited Gottfrid to comment on an article published on Cambodian forum Khmer440 in 2012 which claimed that the Swede was “messed up on drugs†and “a total recluse†who made contact only with “his dealers and landlord.†The Swede reacted unfavorably, accusing the prosecution of trying to “smear†him. Someone who shares opposition to these allegations is ‘John’, Gottfrid’s former business partner as revealed in our earlier article. He’s outraged that the prosecution has used information penned by someone with “a grudge†against Gottfrid. “I should inform you that Khmer440 has accepted that many of the allegations posted about me and Gottfrid were false and defamatory. I have it in writing (the term they used was ‘scurrilous’,†John wrote in an email yesterday to Jens Jorgensen of the Danish police. “The fact that you have quoted these libelous, provably false accusations written by a man who you know to have a grudge against Gottfrid (and I know that you know, because I personally told you about it during our meeting, and watched you take notes) is absolutely sickening. I can’t imagine what on earth possessed you to do such a thing.†Did the prosecution edit evidence? Something else bothering the defense is the authenticity of chat logs provided to the court. The names “Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat†and “My Evil Twin†were seen in chat logs provided by the prosecution yet on Internet Relay Chat, where the chats allegedly took place, names with spaces are truncated. This, the defense says, indicates the logs had been modified. “The prosecution makes much of the two names. But if you log into this kind of IRC chat with the name ‘Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat,’ you will just be called ‘Advanced,’ because you cannot include spaces. It simply cannot be done to be called ‘Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat,’ so it’s been changed subsequently,†Michael Juul Eriksen argued. Lost in translation Speaking with TF yesterday, Kristina said that while Gottfrid is in good spirits, earlier in the week her son “lost his temper†with his interpreter over technical terms not being relayed correctly. “Gottfrid and his lawyer have complained about this earlier in court, several months ago – and now this happens again,†Kristina said. “Denmark should use its best interpreters in a task like this – and the interpreters themselves should refrain from accepting to do the job it if they feel that they can’t do it well.†By Friday morning, however, things had improved. “I just saw a report that Gottfrid and [his new interpreter] smiled at each other when she tried to translate some technical terms,†a good sign, Kristina believes. The week ends in more drama The cross-examination of Gottfrid’s co-defendant had been due to begin Friday afternoon, a highly anticipated event since to date the 21-year-old has refused to give any comment to the police. But thanks to the prosecution producing yet more evidence that had not previously been shared with the defense, the court would have to wait. Defending the 21-year-old, lawyer Michael Juul Eriksen said he couldn’t let the questioning go ahead until the information had been read by the defense. The trial continues next week.