Explaining Southern California's economy

Sony hack: FBI issues new warning about data-destroying malware

Headquarters Of The Federal Bureau Of Investigation

Bloomberg/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The seal of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is seen at the J. Edgar Hoover building in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Aug. 8, 2013.

One week after a computer attack crippled and embarrassed Culver City-based Sony Pictures Entertainment, the FBI on Tuesday issued an alert to businesses warning them to be prepared for an attack of a new kind of malware, or malicious software, that could destroy their data.

"This malware has the capability to overwrite a victim host’s master boot record (MBR) and all data files," says the FBI alert, which was obtained by KPCC. "The overwriting of the data files will make it extremely difficult and costly, if not impossible, to recover the data using standard forensic methods."

The five-page alert never mentions Sony specifically, but comes in the wake of the hack on the movie studio that was followed by the leak of five films to file-sharing websites.

Most of the FBI document lists lines of malicious code for which IT specialists should be on the lookout.


Why do shoppers camp out for Black Friday?

Black Friday

Ben Bergman/KPCC

Kelly Williams will be camped out in front of Best Buy in West L.A. until the store opens on Thanksgiving night. "I’m a very frugal shopper, and I love knowing I got the absolute best price,” she said.

Kelly Williams doesn't want to miss an unbelievable bargain: $199 for a 50-inch television on sale at Best Buy starting Thanksgiving.

So she started camping out in front of Best Buy in West Los Angeles on Tuesday. There were already four people ahead of her.

"We did this last year, too," Williams said. She nabbing a great deal for a TV late year, too. That one went into her son's room. This year's big screen is going into her bedroom.

"I’m a very frugal shopper," she said, "and I love knowing I got the absolute best price."

Like shoppers who walk by her on their way into the store, Williams' husband is skeptical of why she should spend three days camped out for a television.

"It's not quite as insane as it looks," said Kit Yarrow, who's studied consumer psychology for two decades and is author of the new book "Decoding the New Consumer Mind."


Short-haul truckers end strike at ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach

port of los angeles long beach container ship

Photo by Lance Cunningham via Flickr Creative Commons

Truck drivers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have called off a strike against two remaining drayage companies.

Organizers of a strike by truckers against companies that haul cargo at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach say the strike is over. 

On Friday, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport, the last two companies targeted in the strike, agreed to continued discussions with the Teamsters Union, which wants to represent the truck drivers. Both companies, owned by XPO Logistics, issued statements that they won't retaliate against drivers who went on strike. 

The truck drivers have long complained that drayage companies misclassify them as independent contractors, rather than actual employees, and that misclassification causes them to lose wages and certain workplace protections and benefits. Their campaign, organized and supported by the Teamsters, has gathered momentum this year. They've seen favorable rulings in federal court, and from the California Division of Labor Standards and Enforcement.  


Obama's executive order doesn't fix tech companies' immigration problem


Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

US President Barack Obama is seen on a screen in the White House briefing room during an address to the nation on immigration reform November 20, 2014 in Washington, DC.

Tech company executives and lobbyists have complained for years that the country's immigration system is hurting American competitiveness. Now some worry an executive order announced Thursday night by President Obama does far more to help workers than companies, and in the wake of a threatened Republican backlash, could make the problem worse.

"This certainly complicates things," said Emily S. Lam, Vice President, Health Care and Federal Issues for the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, a trade group representing nearly 400 Silicon Valley companies. "The executive action makes a difficult situation even more difficult." 

That's because the order couldn't do what tech companies most want: to increase the quota of H1-B visas allowing U.S. companies to hire highly skilled foreign workers. Changing the quota from its current limit of 65,000 workers a year requires congressional action, which could be further delayed because of Republican opposition to Obama's order.


Truckers stage another strike amid growing tension at ports of LA and Long Beach

lbct teamsters

Brian Watt / KPCC

Teamsters supporters watch trucks pass at the Long Beach Container Terminal in the Port of Long Beach.

A group of short haul truckers for companies that move goods at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach walked off the job Thursday, adding a layer of uncertainty at a port complex already grappling with a cargo backlog.

The truck drivers and the companies had been in a cooling-off period brokered by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti to end a brief strike in July.  But the truckers, backed by the Teamsters Union, said the companies had gone back to punishing workers for supporting the union's organizing effort, and went back on strike.

Exactly how many truck drivers have stopped working isn’t clear. But Maria Elena Durazo of the LA County Federation of Labor told the truckers they have support.

"On your picket lines, you will find electricians, city workers, grocery workers, hotel workers, Wal-Mart workers," Durazo said at a rally at Wilmington's Waterfront Park. She didn't mention Longshore workers.