Apple and Google have taken steps recently to let users protect information stored on smartphones – even from law enforcement. It turns out there may be a fingerprint-sized gap in that plan.
A Virginia Circuit Court judge ruled Tuesday that police officers cannot force criminal suspects to divulge cellphone passwords, but they can force them to unlock the phone with a fingerprint scanner.
If applied by other courts, the ruling could become important as more device makers incorporate fingerprint readers that can be used as alternatives to passwords. Apple introduced the technology last year in its iPhone 5S and Samsung included it in its Galaxy S5.
When those phones arrived, lawyers said users might be required to unlock the phones with their fingerprints. More recently, Apple and Google said they had changed the encryption scheme on the newest phones using their operating systems so that law enforcement can’t retrieve the data. FBI Director James Comey criticized the companies, saying were allowing users to “place themselves above the law.”
Apple iCloud users in mainland China have a cyber issue on their hands as the service is hit by an attack that could allow access to personal data
WSJ‘s Scott Thurm reports: Apple Inc. ’s iCloud service for users in mainland China has been hit by an attack that could allow perpetrators to intercept and see usernames, passwords and other personal data, activists and security analysts said.
“It’s evident that it’s quite massive.”
—Erik Hjelmvik, analyst
“That’s what she said.”
Though the perpetrator’s identity was unclear, the attack came as tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments have simmered over accusations of cyberespionage and hacking attacks.
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The online censorship watchdog GreatFire.org claimed Chinese authorities were behind the attack, though other experts said the source couldn’t be determined. A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry said she was unaware of the matter and reiterated Beijing’s position that it opposes cyberattacks.
Apple said in a statement on its website that it is aware of “intermittent organized network attacks” aimed at obtaining user information from iCloud.com. The company added that the attacks don’t compromise the company’s iCloud servers and don’t affect iCloud sign-in on Apple devices running its iOS mobile software or Macs running OS X Yosemite using its Safari browser.
Apple said users should not sign into iCloud.com if they receive a warning from their browser that it is not a trusted site. This suggests that the user has been compromised.
Apple did not mention China in its statement. Read the rest of this entry »
First Apple and then Google announced that they would use encryption on new phones that wouldn’t permit them to help police execute warrants to examine data on a cell phone or other device.
For City Journal, Judith Miller writes: Law enforcement officials in New York and Washington criticized technology superpowers Google and Apple this week for selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government, warning that such technology jeopardizes public safety.
In his first major policy address, FBI director James B. Comey called on Congress and the Obama administration to counter the expanding use of such devices, which he and other law enforcement officials assert endanger efforts to prevent terrorism and fight crime. Without lawful government access to cell phones and Internet devices, Comey warned, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”
“Law enforcement officials many legitimate ways to obtain the data stored on our devices. Weakening the security of smartphones and trusted communications infrastructure should not be one of them.”
– Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology
Comey, who became FBI director last year, said that he understood Americans’ “justifiable surprise” at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance practices. Read the rest of this entry »
After last week’s auction of an Apple I motherboard for hundreds of thousands of dollars, we wondered: Just how much could you wind up paying for a technology relic?
For PopMech, Jared Newman writes: The Kenbak-1 doesn’t bear the mark of any industry heavyweights. You might not even have heard of it. But the machine, which debuted in 1971 for a reasonable $750, is widely considered to be the first “personal computer.”
To keep costs down, the Kenbak’s program-running capabilities were limited to a handful of standardized input switches and output lights. Nevertheless, it was a hard sell to non-professionals, and creator John Blankenbaker only produced 40 machines, mostly for schools, before folding his company a couple years later. Read the rest of this entry »
Macs and iPhones finally speak the same language.
I can begin replying to an email on my phone, then walk over to my laptop and finish it off there. While my phone charges on my nightstand, I can pick up calls from my mom with a mouse click at my desk. And when someone texts me a photo, it’s already on my laptop, where I can quickly jazz it up in Photoshop then tweet it.
With the Thursday release of the Mac’s free OS X Yosemite update, Apple is finally getting its devices to behave like a real, happy family—a family that not only talks to each other but even looks very much alike. The Mac operating system has acquired apps and features from iOS—and vice versa—over the past few years, but this is the biggest leap toward each other yet.
The advantage is so big that if you are an iPhone or iPad owner but don’t have a Mac, Yosemite might get you to consider buying one. It makes living in Apple’s ecosystem harder to resist. But before you fall into the Apple trap, keep in mind that there are still plenty of reasons to play with Google (and even Microsoft ) on a Mac or iPhone.
An iOS-Inspired Face-Lift
Late one night, Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief, threw on the “White Album,” took out a bucket of translucent primer, mixed it together with some of his rainbow-colored iOS paint and tossed it at the computer screen. At least, that’s how I imagine the Mac operating system got its new look.
There are traces of iPhone and iPad design everywhere you look. Icons have been revamped to look flatter and more modern. The edges of windows are translucent so you can see what’s behind them. The red, yellow and green window-position buttons look like a futuristic traffic light. Even the notification pane now has a “Today” view that is identical to the iPhone’s. Read the rest of this entry »
A man from Detroit has offered to sell his house for an iPhone 6
The unnamed individual originally listed his three-bedroom property for $5,000 (£3,100) in June, but has now slashed the price to either $3,000, or the latest version of Apple’s iconic smartphone. He would also accept a 32GB iPad, and is willing to negotiate, according to his estate agent, Larry Else.
“Detroit’s not a monster. It’s just ahead of the curve”
– Kevin D. Williamson
The 2,400-square foot house is in poor condition, with broken windows and peeling paint, in one of Detroit’s poorest districts. Even so, the trade has highlighted the contrast between America’s thriving technology industry in Silicon Valley and the economic blight still affecting other parts of the country. Read the rest of this entry »
Security experts say China is a leading source of hacking attacks aimed at foreign governments and companies to computers in China
HONG KONG (AP) — The Chinese government might be using smartphone apps to spy on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, a U.S. security firm said.
“The Xsser mRAT represents a fundamental shift by nation-state cybercriminals from compromising traditional PC systems to targeting mobile devices.”
The applications are disguised as tools created by activists, said the firm, Lacoon Mobile Security. It said that once downloaded, they give an outsider access to the phone’s address book, call logs and other information.
The identities of victims and details of the servers used “lead us to believe that the Chinese government are behind the attack,” said a Lacoon statement.
China is, along with the United States and Russia, regarded as a leader in cyber warfare research. Security experts say China is a leading source of hacking attacks aimed at foreign governments and companies to computers in China. Read the rest of this entry »
A reminder to iPhone owners cheering Apple’s latest privacy win: Just because Apple will no longer help police to turn your smartphone inside out doesn’t mean it can prevent the cops from vivisecting the device on their own.
“I am quite impressed, Mr. Cook! That took courage. But it does not mean that your data is beyond law enforcement’s reach.”
– iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski
On Wednesday evening Apple made news with a strongly-worded statement about how it protects users’ data from government requests. And the page noted at least one serious change in that privacy stance: No longer will Apple aid law enforcement or intelligence agencies in cracking its users’ passcodes to access their email, photos, or other mobile data. That’s a 180-degree flip from its previous offer to cops, which demanded only that they provide the device to Apple with a warrantto have its secrets extracted.
In fact, Apple claims that the new scheme now makes Apple not only unwilling, but unable to open users’ locked phones for law enforcement. “Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access [your personal] data,” reads the new policy. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
“I can do it. I’m sure the guys in suits in the governments can do it. And I’m sure that there are at least three or four commercial tools that can still do this, too.”
But as the media and privacy activists congratulated Apple on that new resistance to government snooping, iOS forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski offered a word of caution for the millions of users clamoring to pre-order the iPhone 6 and upgrade to iOS 8. In many cases, he points out, the cops can still grab and offload sensitive data from your locked iPhone without Apple’s help, even in iOS 8. All they need, he says, is your powered-on phone and access to a computer you’ve previously used to move data onto and off of it. Read the rest of this entry »
The Washington Post reports: Apple said Wednesday night that it is making it impossible for the company to turn over data from most iPhones or iPads to police — even when they have a search warrant — taking a hard new line as tech companies attempt to blunt allegations that they have too readily participated in government efforts to collect user information.
“Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your passcode and therefore cannot access this data,” Apple said on its Web site. “So it’s not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8.”
As the new operating system becomes widely deployed over the next several weeks, the number of iPhones and iPads that Apple is capable of breaking into for police will steadily dwindle to the point where only devices several years old — and incapable of running iOS 8 — can be unlocked by Apple.
Apple will still have the ability — and the legal responsibility — to turn over user data stored elsewhere, such as in its iCloud service, which typically includes backups of photos, videos, e-mail communications, music collections and more. Users who want to prevent all forms of police access to their information will have to adjust settings in a way that blocks data from flowing to iCloud. Read the rest of this entry »
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) September 9, 2014
I have to admit, the new iPhone is beautiful. pic.twitter.com/AZq3U74Zec
— Saladin Ahmed (@saladinahmed) September 9, 2014
From Mail Online: Kirsten Dunst has become the first celebrity to publicly criticize Apple after it emerged that a flaw in the ‘Find My iPhone‘ function of its iCloud service may have helped an unknown hacker steal nude photos of her and ‘100 other celebrities’.
The Spiderman star tweeted ‘Thank you iCloud’ along with icons representing a slice of pizza and a pile of poo on Monday afternoon, the day after naked photos of her were published online.
The supposed hacker behind the scandal has claimed that they broke into stars’ iCloud accounts, including those of Dunst, Hunger Games actress Jennifer Lawrence, Kate Upton and Rihanna, before publishing them on 4chan, the image-sharing forum.
A list of the alleged victims of the hack – a staggering 101 in total – has also been posted online; most of whom have not seen any photographs leaked by the hacker.
Yesterday, British actress Emma Watson, a friend of Lawrence, condemned the ‘lack of empathy’ shown by social media users towards victims of the hack.
She tweeted: ‘Even worse than seeing women’s privacy violated on social media is reading the accompanying comments that show such a lack of empathy.’ Read the rest of this entry »
…We’re told the phone was smuggled out of a Foxconn factory in China … where the majority of iPhone models are manufactured. The owner of the phone says the smuggler is his friend — an ex-employee — who worked in Foxconn’s hardware department designing the outer casing for the new model…(read more)
“Manufacturing synthetic sapphire is costly, so the material has been used sparingly, to protect against extreme conditions in airplane windows or as a scratch-resistant cover for expensive watches.”
WSJ‘s Daisisuke Wakabayashi reports: Synthetic sapphire is designed to replicate one of the hardest minerals on earth but is costly to produce, Pictured, a 15″ diameter sapphire boule before it is cut into its final shape. GT Advanced Technologies
[Also see: Why Apple’s iPhone 6 won’t need a case]
Apple Inc. created the blueprint for a smartphone when it covered the touch screen of its first iPhone in glass, instead of plastic. Now, it is betting $700 million that sapphire, a harder and more expensive material, can replace glass and better protect future devices.
The first sapphire display screens for the forthcoming larger iPhone and smartwatch are expected to roll off production lines this month at a Mesa, Ariz., facility that Apple opened with materials manufacturer GT Advanced Technologies Inc. At full capacity, the plant will produce twice as much sapphire as the current output from the nearly 100 manufacturers world-wide, says Eric Virey, a senior analyst at French research firm Yole Développement. Read the rest of this entry »
“What I discovered…Siri seems to be one of those things that polarizes views: people either loving it and using it every day, or dismissing it as a useless gimmick. Not too many people seem to fall between the two.”
Yesterday our Hong Kong Bureau Chief posted a tantalizing peek into the future of AI – “Real AI in Your Pocket” — and in the comments section, I posted an anecdotal description of a recent experience using the still-developing Siri, and it led me to wonder who’s writing what about Siri these days, and I landed on this. Though it confirms that most of what can be done with Siri is conventional, to the point of being disappointingly trivial, sometimes the smallest things can yeild daily benefits, and are easy to overlook. The question is valid: Is Siri just a party trick?
For 9to5Mac, Ben Lovejoy writes: When Siri lost its beta tag almost a year ago, I suggested it might be a good time for those who’d been frustrated with its early performance to give it another chance. What I discovered through your comments was that Siri seems to be one of those things that polarizes views: people either loving it and using it every day, or dismissing it as a useless gimmick. Not too many people seem to fall between the two.
But Apple has continued to work hard on improving the service, adding new capabilities as well as refining its ability to handle existing ones. It might not yet be as sophisticated as its creators envisage for the future, but a year on seemed a good point to revisit the topic and find just how many of its capabilities people are using …
“Most people know Siri can read your mail, but again you can be much more specific than this…”
Everyone knows you can ask Siri to call someone, and that if you’ve identified contacts by relationship you can say things like “Call my girlfriend,” but you can also get more specific. “Call my father on his work phone,” for example, or “Make a FaceTime audio call to Phil.”
Similarly, with text messages, you can be casual in your phrasing: “Let Sarah know I’m running ten minutes late.” Calendar queries, too, can also be more specific than general enquiries about your appointments, such as “When am I meeting Barbara?”
Using Siri to tweet? You can ask for your location to be added, along with any hashtags: “Tweet, with my location, having a great night out, hashtag drinking.” And if you want to know what’s trending on Twitter, you can simply ask “What’s going on?”
Apple Maps may not have gotten off to the best of starts, but there’s a lot of location-based functionality built into Siri to make your life easier. Some are basic, like “Give me walking direction to Alison Smith’s work.” Others are more sophisticated like “Make a reservation for two at a romantic French restaurant around here tonight at 7pm.”
Or fancy a movie instead? “Where is Guardians of the Galaxy playing?” will show you nearby locations and times, together with the Rotten Tomatoes review. If you’re in the U.S., you can also ask Siri to buy tickets. Not sure whether the movie is the right choice? “Play the movie trailer for Guardians of the Galaxy.”
Still got work to do in the meantime? “Show me the nearest WiFi hotspots.”
Location-based reminders are something without which I’d forget half the things I’m supposed to do. “Remind me to call Sam when I get home,” “Remind me to post the letters when I leave here” and “Remind me to buy milk when I’m at Tesco” are just a few examples. Read the rest of this entry »