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Security

Transmission Malware On Mac, Strike 2 (macrumors.com) 46

New reader puenktli writes: Just five months after Transmission was infected with the first 'ransomware' ever found on the Mac, the popular BitTorrent client is again at the center of newly uncovered OS X malware. Researchers at security website We Live Security have discovered the malware, called OSX/Keydnap, was spread through a recompiled version of Transmission temporarily distributed through the client's official website. OSX/Keydnap executes itself in a similar manner as the previous Transmission ransomware KeRanger, by adding a malicious block of code to the main function of the app, according to the researchers. Likewise, they said a legitimate code signing key was used to sign the malicious Transmission app, different from the legitimate Transmission certificate, but still signed by Apple and thereby able to bypass Gatekeeper on OS X.
Encryption

FBI Director Says Prolific Default Encryption Hurting Government Spying Efforts (go.com) 340

SonicSpike quotes a report from ABC News: FBI Director James Comey warned again Tuesday about the bureau's inability to access digital devices because of encryption and said investigators were collecting information about the challenge in preparation for an "adult conversation" next year. Widespread encryption built into smartphones is "making more and more of the room that we are charged to investigate dark," Comey said in a cybersecurity symposium. The remarks reiterated points that Comey has made repeatedly in the last two years, before Congress and in other settings, about the growing collision between electronic privacy and national security. "The conversation we've been trying to have about this has dipped below public consciousness now, and that's fine," Comey said at a symposium organized by Symantec, a technology company. "Because what we want to do is collect information this year so that next year we can have an adult conversation in this country." The American people, he said, have a reasonable expectation of privacy in private spaces -- including houses, cars and electronic devices. But that right is not absolute when law enforcement has probable cause to believe that there's evidence of a crime in one of those places, including a laptop or smartphone. "With good reason, the people of the United States -- through judges and law enforcement -- can invade our private spaces," Comey said, adding that that "bargain" has been at the center of the country since its inception. He said it's not the role of the FBI or tech companies to tell the American people how to live and govern themselves. "We need to understand in the FBI how is this exactly affecting our work, and then share that with folks," Comey said, conceding the American people might ultimately decide that its privacy was more important than "that portion of the room being dark." Comey made his remarks to the 2016 Symantec Government Symposium. The Daily Dot has another take on Comey's remarks, which you can read here.
EU

Apple Ordered To Pay Up To $14.5 Billion in EU Tax Crackdown, Cook Refutes EU's Conclusion (bloomberg.com) 507

Apple has been ordered to pay a record sum of 13 billion euros ($14.5 billion) plus interest after the European Commission said Ireland illegally slashed the iPhone maker's tax bill, in a crackdown on fiscal loopholes that also risks inflaming tensions with the United States Treasury. According to the European Union regulator, Apple benefited from selective tax treatment that gave it an unfair advantage over other businesses. In the meanwhile, Apple has refuted such accusations, saying that EU's conclusion has "no basis in fact or law." EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, "If my effective tax rate would be 0.05 percent falling to 0.005 percent -- I would have felt that maybe I should have a second look at my tax bill." Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "Over the years, we received guidance from Irish tax authorities on how to comply correctly with Irish tax law -- the same kind of guidance available to any company doing business there. In Ireland and in every country where we operate, Apple follows the law and we pay all the taxes we owe."
Programming

C Programming Language Hits a 15-Year Low On The TIOBE Index (businessinsider.com) 220

Gamoid writes: The venerable C programming language hit a 15-year low on the TIOBE Index, perhaps because more mobile- and web-friendly languages like Swift and Go are starting to eat its lunch. "The C programming language has a score of 11.303%, which is its lowest score ever since we started the TIOBE index back in 2001," writes Paul Jansen, manager of TIOBE Index. With that said, C is still the second most popular programming language in the world, behind only Java. Also worth noting as mentioned by Matt Weinberger via Business Insider, "C doesn't currently have a major corporate sponsor; Oracle makes a lot of money from Java; Apple pushes both Swift and Objective-C for building iPhone apps. But no big tech company is getting on stage and pushing C as the future of development. So C's problems could be marketing as much as anything."
EU

European Commission To Issue Apple An Irish Tax Bill of $1.1 Billion, Says Report (reuters.com) 205

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The European Commission will rule against Ireland's tax dealings with Apple on Tuesday, two source familiar with the decision told Reuters, one of whom said Dublin would be told to recoup over 1 billion euros in back taxes. The European Commission accused Ireland in 2014 of dodging international tax rules by letting Apple shelter profits worth tens of billions of dollars from tax collectors in return for maintaining jobs. Apple and Ireland rejected the accusation; both have said they will appeal any adverse ruling. The source said the Commission will recommend a figure in back taxes that it expects to be collected, but it will be up to Irish authorities to calculate exactly what is owed. A bill in excess of 1 billion euros ($1.12 billion) would be far more than the 30 million euros each the European Commission previously ordered Dutch authorities to recover from U.S. coffee chain Starbucks and Luxembourg from Fiat Chrysler for their tax deals. When it opened the Apple investigation in 2014, the Commission told the Irish government that tax rulings it agreed in 1991 and 2007 with the iPhone maker amounted to state aid and might have broken EU laws. The Commission said the rulings were "reverse engineered" to ensure that Apple had a minimal Irish bill and that minutes of meetings between Apple representatives and Irish tax officials showed the company's tax treatment had been "motivated by employment considerations."
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Announces Event On September 7: iPhone 7, Apple Watch 2 Expected 111

New iPhones are coming, Apple hinted today. The Cupertino-based giant announced on Monday that it will host an event on September 7. The rumor mill suggests that the company would announce as many as three iPhones -- the iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus, and the iPhone 6 SE. Recent reports suggest that Apple may also announce the second-generation of Apple Watch. No new iPads are expected. The company is widely rumored to refresh its Mac lineup -- though they are likely to be launched at a later point. The biggest talk point around the iPhone 7 has been the headphone jack -- or its lack thereof.
Apple

Apple Is Making Life Terrible In Its Factories (theregister.co.uk) 296

An anonymous reader writes: Pressure from Apple to lower costs is driving worsening conditions for workers at the company's manufacturing partners.
This according to watchdog group China Labor Watch, which says that under CEO Tim Cook, the Cupertino giant has asked the companies that assemble its products to cut their own costs, and those demands have led them to cut back on worker pay and factory conditions. Specifically, the group reports that Pegatron has been passing on financial pressures from Apple by committing multiple violations of Chinese labor laws on fair pay and workplace safety.
"Working conditions are terrible, and workers are subject to terrible treatment," China Labor Watch writes. "Currently, Apple's profits are declining, and the effects of this decline have been passed on to suppliers. To mitigate the impact, Pegatron has taken some covert measures to exploit workers."

Iphone

Apple Fixes Three Zero Days Used In Targeted Attack (onthewire.io) 75

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On The Wire: Apple has patched three critical vulnerabilities in iOS that were identified when an attacker targeted a human rights activist in the UAE with an exploit chain that used the bugs to attempt to remotely jailbreak and infect his iPhone. The vulnerabilities include two kernel flaws and one in WebKit and Apple released iOS 9.3.5 to fix them.

The attack that set off the investigation into the vulnerabilities targeted Ahmed Mansoor, an activist living in the UAE. Earlier this month, he received a text message that included a link to what was supposedly new information on human rights abuses. Suspicious, Manor forwarded the link to researchers at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab, who recognized what they were looking at. "On August 10 and 11, 2016, Mansoor received SMS text messages on his iPhone promising ;new secrets' about detainees tortured in UAE jails if he clicked on an included link. Instead of clicking, Mansoor sent the messages to Citizen Lab researchers. We recognized the links as belonging to an exploit infrastructure connected to NSO Group, an Israel-based 'cyber war' company that sells Pegasus, a government-exclusive "lawful intercept" spyware product," Citizen Lab said in a new report on the attack and iOS flaws.

Microsoft

Apple, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft Sign White House Pledge For Equal Pay (fortune.com) 294

In honor of Women's Equality Day, an anonymous reader shares with us a festive report from Fortune: More than two months after the White House first announced its Equal Pay Pledge for the private sector, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft and other major industry players have signed on. By taking the pledge, which was first introduced at the United State of Women Summit in June of this year, companies promise to help close the national gender pay gap, conduct annual, company-wide pay analyses, and review hiring and promotion practices. The new signees were announced in a White House statement on Friday -- which also happens to be Women's Equality Day, the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Apple, which announced earlier this year that it has no pay gap, released a statement promising to dig even deeper into compensation. "We're now analyzing the salaries, bonuses, and annual stock grants of all our employees worldwide. If a gap exists, we'll address it," the company said in a statement. Twenty-nine companies signed the pledge on Friday, bringing the total number of signatories to 57. The pledge is part of a $50-million, White House-led initiative to expand opportunities for and improve the lives of women and girls. The consortium members issued a statement via Whitehouse.gov's press release: "The Employers for Pay Equity consortium is comprised of companies that understand the importance of diversity and inclusion, including ensuring that all individuals are compensated equitably for equal work and experience and have an equal opportunity to contribute and advance in the workplace. We are committed to collaborating to eliminate the national pay and leadership gaps for women and ethic minorities. Toward that end, we have come together to share best practices in compensation, hiring, promotion, and career development as well as develop strategies to support other companies' efforts in this regard. By doing so, we believe we can have a positive effect on our workforces that, in turn, makes our companies stronger and delivers positive economic impact." The consortium members include: Accenture, Airbnb, BCG, Care.com, CEB, Cisco, Deloitte, Dow, Expedia, EY, Glassdoor, GoDaddy, Jet.com, L'Oreal USA, Mercer, PepsiCo, Pinterest, Rebecca Minkoff, Salesforce, Spotify, Staples, Stella McCartney, and Visa.
Businesses

Spotify Is Burying Tracks From Musicians Who Give Exclusives To Apple and Tidal (bloomberg.com) 85

The music-streaming market is very competitive these days, especially since Apple released Apple Music last year. In retaliation for musicians giving Apple exclusive access to their new music, Spotify has reportedly been making their songs harder to find on its service. Bloomberg reports: "Artists who have given Apple exclusive access to new music have been told they won't be able to get their tracks on featuring playlists once the songs become available on Spotify, said the people [familiar with the strategy], who declined to be identified discussing the steps. Those artists have also found their songs buried in the search rankings of Spotify, the world's largest music-streaming service, the people said. Spotify said it doesn't alter search rankings. Spotify has been using such practices for about a year, one of the people said, though others said the efforts have escalated over the past few months. Artists who have given exclusives to Tidal, the streaming service run by Jay Z, have also retaliated against, the person said, declining to identify specific musicians."
Android

Facebook's WhatsApp Data Gambit Faces Federal Privacy Complaint (vice.com) 94

Sam Gustin, writing for Motherboard: Facebook's decision to begin harvesting data from its popular WhatsApp messaging service provoked a social media uproar on Thursday, and prompted leading privacy advocates to prepare a federal complaint accusing the tech titan of violating US law. On Thursday morning, WhatsApp, which for years has dined out on its reputation for privacy and security, announced that it would begin sharing user phone numbers with its Menlo Park-based parent company in an effort "to improve your Facebook ads and products experiences." Consumer privacy advocates denounced the move as a betrayal of WhatsApp's one billion users -- users who had been assured by the two companies that "nothing would change" about the messaging service's privacy practices after Facebook snapped up the startup for a whopping $19 billion in 2014. "WhatsApp users should be shocked and upset," Claire Gartland, Consumer Protection Counsel at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a leading US consumer advocacy group, told Motherboard. "WhatsApp obtained one billion users by promising that it would protect user privacy. Both Facebook and WhatsApp made very public promises that the companies would maintain a separation. Those were the key selling points of the deal."
Patents

Apple Patenting a Way To Collect Fingerprints, Photos of Thieves (appleinsider.com) 90

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: As published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's invention covering "Biometric capture for unauthorized user identification" details the simple but brilliant -- and legally fuzzy -- idea of using an iPhone or iPad's Touch ID module, camera and other sensors to capture and store information about a potential thief. Apple's patent is also governed by device triggers, though different constraints might be applied to unauthorized user data aggregation. For example, in one embodiment a single failed authentication triggers the immediate capture of fingerprint data and a picture of the user. In other cases, the device might be configured to evaluate the factors that ultimately trigger biometric capture based on a set of defaults defined by internal security protocols or the user. Interestingly, the patent application mentions machine learning as a potential solution for deciding when to capture biometric data and how to manage it. Other data can augment the biometric information, for example time stamps, device location, speed, air pressure, audio data and more, all collected and logged as background operations. The deemed unauthorized user's data is then either stored locally on the device or sent to a remote server for further evaluation.
IOS

iPhones and iPads Fail More Often Than Android Smartphones (softpedia.com) 175

An anonymous reader writes: The main question when picking a new phone is whether to choose an Android one or an iPhone. A new study coming from Blancco Technology Group sheds some light on which devices are the most reliable, based on reliability. The study entitled State of Mobile Device Performance and Health reveals the device failure rates by operating systems, manufacturers, models and regions, as well as the most common types of performance issues. The report reveals that in Q2 2016, iOS devices had a 58% failure rate, marking the first time that Apple's devices have a lower performance rate compared to Android. It seems that the iPhone 6 had the highest failure rate of 29%, followed by iPhone 6s and iPhone 6S Plus. Android smartphones had an overall failure rate of 35%, an improvement from 44% in Q1 2016. Samsung, Lenovo and LeTV were among the manufacturers with the weakest performance and higher failure rates. Samsung scored 26% in failure rate, while Motorola just 11%. The study also reveals that iOS devices fail more frequently in North America and Asia compared to Android. Specifically, the failure rate in North America is 59%, while in Asia 52%. The failures could be influenced by the fact that the quality of smartphones shipped around the world varies.
Government

Malware Sold To Governments Helped Them Spy on iPhones (washingtonpost.com) 31

One of the world's most evasive digital arms dealers is believed to have been taking advantage of three security vulnerabilities in popular Apple products in its efforts to spy on dissidents and journalists, reports The New York Times. (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled, here's an alternate source). From the report: Investigators discovered that a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit that sells software that invisibly tracks a target's mobile phone, was responsible for the intrusions. The NSO Group's software can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user. In response, Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5. Users can get the patch through a normal software update.The Washington Post reports that these "zero-day" flaws were previously used by the governments to take over victims' phones by tricking them into clicking on a link to a text message. Motherboard says that this is the first time anyone has uncovered such an attack in the wild. "Until this month, no one had seen an attempted spyware infection leveraging three unknown bugs, or zero-days, in the iPhone. The tools and technology needed for such an attack, which is essentially a remote jailbreak of the iPhone, can be worth as much as one million dollars."
Desktops (Apple)

Apple Under Tim Cook: More Socially Responsible, Less Visionary (cnn.com) 152

Let's talk about Apple, unarguably one of the most remarkable companies on the face of the earth. (Remarkable doesn't necessarily mean great -- it just means that the company is something worth making a remark). You can like it, or hate it, but you can simply not ignore Apple. But what's the occasion, you ask? It's been five years since Tim Cook took over as Apple CEO. (Editor's note: auto-playing video ahead, which may annoy you) Under his leadership, Apple has grown to become the world's most successful company, doubling the stock price and registering a staggering 84 percent growth in its net worth. Media outlets are abuzz with articles, analysis, and over-analysis of Tim Cook's Apple today. Some excerpts from a CNN article: Apple's culture has changed noticeably, both for the better and the worse. [...] If Jobs put a dent in the universe through Apple's coveted products, Cook is making his mark by highlighting the importance of social efforts: LGBT rights, philanthropy, corporate diversity, renewable energy and improving manufacturing conditions abroad. Under Cook's leadership, Apple finally began matching charitable contributions from employees, which had long been a sore spot for staff. Apple had 110,000 full-time employees as of the end of September 2015, nearly doubling from the 60,400 employees it reported having in September 2011, shortly after Cook took over, according to annual filings with the SEC. [...] There's now a feeling among some Apple insiders that the company is just running the same product playbook that Jobs created in his final years at the helm. "For four or five years, the playbook is the same that's been done," says Amit Sharma, a former Apple exec on the online store team. But, he adds, "just because everybody is looking for new doesn't mean it's not working."
Iphone

A Design Defect Is Plaguing Many iPhone 6 and 6 Plus Units (iphonehacks.com) 222

Evan Selleck, writing for iPhoneHacks (edited and condensed): For many iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus owners out there in the wild, a design defect is apparently causing some huge issues. Gadget repair firm iFixit has reported about a flaw dubbed "Touch Disease", which it claims is cropping up. With it, owners of the phones are experiencing, to start, a gray bar that appears at the very top of their display. And, for many others, the display itself becomes unresponsive to touch, or less responsive overall. In the blog post, iFixit says the problem stems from issues with the touchscreen controller chip, which is soldered onto the logic board. Interestingly enough, iFixit posits that the same internal design decisions that led to "Endgate" might be causing the issue leading to Touch Disease, too: "In both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, the Touch IC chips connect to the logic board via an array of itty-bitty solder balls -- "like a plate resting on marbles," Jessa explains. Over time, as the phone flexes or twists slightly during normal use, those solder balls crack and start to lose contact with the board. "At first, there may be no defect at all. Later you might notice that the screen is sometimes unresponsive, but it is quick to come back with a hard reset," Jessa explains. "As the crack deepens into a full separation of the chip-board bond, the periods of no touch function become more frequent."
Iphone

Steve Wozniak Says Apple Must Fix iPhone 7 Bluetooth Or Revive Its Headphone Jack (afr.com) 385

We've talked extensively about the missing headphone jack on the upcoming iPhone. While some say that the move will ruin user experience -- something that has already started to seem that way in the real world -- a few argue that someone needs to push the needle to move the technology forward. Now Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has something to say about the missing legacy audio jack as well. He is asking Apple to fix the Bluetooth first if the company intends to give users to move to wireless headphones. From a Financial Review report: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has warned Apple is going to frustrate a lot of customers if it removes the headphone jack from the upcoming iPhone 7. [...] Customers wanting to use their existing, wired earbuds and headphones might have to buy an adaptor that attaches to the iPhone's Lightning port, or to whatever port does remain on the phone. "If it's missing the 3.5mm earphone jack, that's going to tick off a lot of people," Mr Wozniak told The Australian Financial Review. "I would not use Bluetooth ... I don't like wireless. I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music." Mr Wozniak said he would probably use the adaptor to connect his existing earphones to his next iPhone, and said that, like many other users he is attached to the accessories that he uses alongside the phone. "Mine have custom ear implants, they fit in so comfortably, I can sleep on them and everything. And they only come out with one kind of jack, so ''ll have to go through the adaptor," he said. "If there's a Bluetooth 2 that has higher bandwidth and better quality, that sounds like real music, I would use it. But we'll see. Apple is good at moving towards the future, and I like to follow that."
Cellphones

Samsung Plans To Sell Refurbished High-End Smartphones In 2017 (reuters.com) 82

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The world's top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States. Samsung would then re-sell these phones at a lower price, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was not yet public. The person declined to say how big a discount the refurbished phones would be sold at, which markets the phones would be sold in or how many refurbished devices Samsung could sell. It was not clear to what extent the phones would be altered, but refurbished phones typically are fitted with parts such as a new casing or battery. Refurbished phones could help vendors such as Samsung boost their presence in emerging markets such as India, where high-end devices costing $800 or so are beyond most buyers. Samsung's refurbishment program, details of which the person said could be finalized as early as 2017, could help the firm generate revenue from dated high-end smartphones returned by users upgrading to newer versions.
Android

Apple, Samsung Capture All Of Industry's Smartphone Profits (zdnet.com) 161

Continuing to operate on razor thin margins, smartphone manufacturers other than Samsung and Apple are bleeding money. Apple accounted for 75 percent of the smartphone's profits in the second quarter this year, down from 90 percent a year ago, according to Canaccord Genuity. Samsung, which has reported strong sales thanks to its Galaxy S7 series of smartphones, accounted for more than 30 percent of the industry, the research added. ZDNet reports: While this tale could revolve around Apple vs. Samsung the larger question is this: Why would any company want to make smartphones? Let's get real. All the profits go to Apple (high end) or Samsung (high end and scale). The rest of the players in the market don't make money and get disrupted by whatever vendor is flavor of the month? Remember that Xiaomi was supposed to be the next big thing in China and elsewhere, but is now being disrupted by Oppo and Vivo. A quarter from now Oppo and Vivo will be thumped by some smartphone manufacturer we haven't heard of yet.
Chrome

Google Will Kill Chrome Apps For Windows, Mac, and Linux In Early 2018 (venturebeat.com) 102

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced plans to kill off Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2018. Chrome extensions and themes will not be affected, while Chrome apps will continue to live on in Chrome OS. Here's the deprecation timeline:

Late 2016: Newly published Chrome apps will not be available to Windows, Mac, and Linux users (when developers submit apps to the Chrome Web Store, they will only show up for Chrome OS). Existing Chrome apps will remain available as they are today and developers can continue to update them.
Second half of 2017: The Chrome Web Store will no longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Early 2018: Chrome apps will not load on Windows, Mac, and Linux.
There appears to be two main reasons why Google is killing Chrome apps off now. First, as Google explains in a blog post: "For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn't provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware. We launched Chrome apps three years ago to bridge this gap. Since then, we've worked with the web standards community to enable an increasing number of these use cases on the web. Developers can use powerful new APIs such as service worker and web push to build robust Progressive Web Apps that work across multiple browsers." Secondly, Chrome apps aren't very popular: "Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux will therefore be removing support for packaged and hosted apps over the next two years."

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