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It may not be on par with the great Netflix snafu  of Christmas Eve 2012 but gamers are pretty ticked off that the Valve Software’s online store fell down during a Christmas sale, according to Geekwire, Reddit and other outlets. A traffic spike may have been an issue: Valve offered a free copy of Left 4 Dead 2 to anyone who downloaded and installed it before 10 a.m. PST December 26. As of 6:15 p.m. Christmas night the store appeared to be up again.

Update: Nintendo and Xbox Live sites are also experiencing issues, according to Gameinformer.

On The Web

Security sleuth Brian Krebs sifted through the web to find where credit card numbers purloined from Target customers turned up and came up with an underground store rescador[dot]la. Click on it at your own risk.  The site is, according to Krebs, run by “a miscreant” using the nickname Rescator who is affiliated with a Russian- and English-language crime forum. But you have to read the full post to get the whole story. To be honest, I’m too nervous to write more here.

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On The Web

A top-secret interrogation manual — some call it a torture guide — that the ACLU has been fighting to bring to light, was actually already made public —  presumably by mistake  — by the FBI agent who helped create it. The agent apparently decided it would be a good idea to copyright the 70-page how-to document. That process requires providing a copy of the document to the copyright office which is where it was discovered by a Mother Jones reporter.

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The NSA paid RSA Security $10 million to distribute NSA-designed encryption — crackable by the security agency — with RSA’s BSafe security software, according to Reuters. It had already been reported that RSA, now part of EMC, had distributed the NSA formula as the default setting with BSafe, what’s new is information about the $10 million payment.

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A White House-appointed panel’s recommendation this week that the NSA stop collecting so much phone data will likely not have an impact on the massive data center  in Bluffdale, Utah, built to house NSA data. Even if President Obama accepts those findings, which included a recommendation to unplug a database rumored to hold more than 1 trillion phone records, much additional data would still come in, James Bamford, an NSA expert told the Salt Lake Tribune. 

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The Obama administration will name Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene as its point person to fix what ails Healthcare.gov, according to Politico. DelBene, who is president of Microsoft’s  Office division. would replace Jeff Zientz, who will move on to be the director of the National Economic Council next year. DelBene has government connections: His wife is freshman Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Wash.).

On The Web

Blaise Agüera y Arcas, a top engineer at Microsoft, is moving on to rival Google, The New York Times reported Sunday. Agüera y Arcas helped develop Bing Maps and the latest version of Photosynth, and worked in augmented reality  and wearable technology. Microsoft and Agüera y Arcas confirmed the move to the Times without much comment. Microsoft never likes to lose top talent but has proven particularly touchy when that talent heads to Google.

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