Technological World for December 18: LifeLabs reveal data breach, hackers harassing Ring owners, Game Awards winners, Microsoft's Xbox Series X, Halo: Reach comes to the Master Chief Collection

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Categories Consumer technology | Video games

This week, the new Xbox console coming in the fall of 2020 has a name, Halo: Reach has been added to the Master Chief Collection, and the Game Awards entrenches video games as culture. But first, news of a data breach of health information of Canadians and how hackers are harassing Ring camera owners.

LifeLabs paid ransom to hackers in data breach affecting up to 15 million Canadians

In late October, hackers accessed a database for LifeLabs, a Canadian provider of medical testing services.

Customer information including names, addresses, email addresses, logins, passwords, dates of birth, health card numbers, and lab test results were all vulnerable.

The company, which is based in B.C., revealed this week that it paid a ransom. President and CEO Charles Brown phrased it a different way, writing in a letter to customers that LifeLabs took several measures to protect our customer information, including retrieving the data by making a payment..

Of course, just because a ransom was paid does nothing. That data could have – probably was – copied.

LifeLabs is offering a year of free protection to any customer concerned about the breach.

Ring Cameras prove vulnerable to hackers who are watching owners and harassing them

Motherboard reported this month about a podcast that plays recordings and livestreams of hackers accessing Ring cameras and interacting with owners.

It’s adolescent prank call culture amped up by technology and a lack of empathy.

Ring, which is owned by Amazon and sells home security products including video cameras and camera-enabled doorbells, has claimed that the reason hackers have been able to access people’s devices is because they were using usernames and passwords for their Ring accounts that had been used elsewhere and exposed.

In other words, users are responsible for the problem.

While it’s true that you should have unique passwords for your various accounts, and you should enable two-factor authentication at all times, putting the burden of security entirely on the user is not good business practice.

And in a follow-up to his story about the NulledCast podcast, Motherboard’s Joseph Cox discovered that there’s lots more that Ring could do to protect user accounts. Ring’s security is “awful” he wrote.

The Game Awards 2019 celebrates video game culture

With an opening performance of Death Stranding, their song for the video game by Chvrches, the Game Awards 2019 established itself as a premiere event, with performances by Green Day and Grimes and appearances by actor Lindsey Wagner and Golden State Warrior and NBA MVP Steph Curry.

The event has always been a celebration of video games, featuring premieres of new games, appearances by prominent figures in the industry, as well as recognition of popular and successful games.

Among the winners were:

  • Game of the Year and Best Action/Adventure Game: Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, developed by From Software and published by Activision
  • Best Action Game: Devil May Cry 5, developed and published by Capcom
  • Best Family Game: Luigi’s Mansion 3, developed by Vancouver’s Next Level Games and published by Nintendo
  • Game Direction: Death Stranding, developed by Kojima Productions and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment

One of the surprises was the world premiere of Ninja Theory’s next game, Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II. It’s a sequel to the sleeper hit of 2017 – Hellblade – Senua’s Sacrifice – that so impressed Xbox’s Phil Spencer that he made arrangements to acquire the studio.

The protagonist of these games, the titular Senua, suffers from psychosis, and the developers at Ninja Theory took great care in creating an experience that simulates what that might be like by conducting research with scientists and people afflicted with mental illness.

The next Microsoft game console is the Xbox Series X

During the Game Awards, Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed the name of what’s previously been known only as Project Scarlet.

The new console from Microsoft, to be released next holiday season, is called Xbox Series X. The design of the new console was also unveiled. It looks like a small computer tower. It’s solid black with a small Xbox logo, and can be placed horizontally or vertically.

Pricing and a specific release date haven’t been announced, and the final specs haven’t been revealed, but Spencer promises that the Series X will provide 4K video at 60 frames per second, and will be capable of delivering 8K video.

It will also be backwards compatible, allowing owners to play Xbox One games.

And Halo Infinite is expected to be a launch title.

Halo Reach has been added to the Master Chief Collection

Speaking of Halo, the Master Chief Collection includes nearly all of the first-person shooter games in the Halo franchise, including the game that started it all, Halo 2, Halo 3, ODST, Halo 4, and now also includes Halo: Reach, which has been updated with 4K visuals.

That game details the events the precede the first game, Halo: Combat Evolved, and was the final Halo game developed by Bungie.

If you really want a good deal, consider an Xbox Game Pass subscription, which gives you access to over 100 games on your Xbox or Windows computer for CAN$12 a month.

An Ultimate subscription costs $200 a year, but includes your Xbox Live Gold subscription (itself $12 a month) and gives you access to games on both console and computer.


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