Apple denies iCloud breach was responsible for device lockout attack, advises users to change passwords

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Last night we reported that several Mac and iOS users were finding their devices remotely locked by hackers who had gained access to the users’ Find My iPhone accounts and demanded a ransom to return the devices to a working state.

Today Apple issued a statement on the problem, noting that—as suspected—the iCloud service itself was not actually breached, but individual user accounts may have been compromised through password reuse or social engineering:

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Vesper 2 for iPhone adds sync support for backing up notes (Vesper for Mac next)

Update: Brent Simmons write on his blog that Vesper for Mac is indeed next.

Vesper received a major feature update overnight bringing one of the most requested features to the note-taking app: support for sync. Vesper, the project of John Gruber, Brent Simmons, and Dave Wiskus under the name Q Branch, was released almost a year ago for the iPhone and decidedly lacked iCloud sync (due to reliability) or any alternative. Simmons has since been journaling his experiencing with building an in-house sync solution for Vesper on his Inessential blog if you are interested in reading the behind-the-scenes work that goes into such a project…

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Australian Mac and iOS users find devices remotely locked, held for ransom (and how to keep yours safe)

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The Sydney Morning Herald reports that several Australian Mac, iPhone, and iPad users are finding that their devices have been locked remotely through Apple’s Find My iPhone service by someone using the name “Oleg Pliss.” The hacker (or hackers) then demand payments of around $50 to $100 to an anonymous PayPal account in order to restore the devices to their owners.

An active thread on Apple’s support forum was started yesterday as users started to discover that they had been targeted by the attack. According to that discussion, users are finding all of their devices locked at once rather than a single device per user. Based on that report and the fact that Find My iPhone is being used to hold the devices hostage, it seems likely that the perpetrator has gained access to these users’ iCloud accounts—possibly through password reuse by those users—rather than some device-specific malware or hack.

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Apple beefs up iWork for iCloud with bolstered collaboration, more file storage

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Apple today has enhanced its iWork suite of iCloud apps to include much improved collaboration, new document options, and more file storage. iWork includes the Pages word processor, Keynote presentation maker, and Numbers spreadsheet manager, and it is likely that supporting apps for iOS and OS X will become available in the near future…

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Opinion: With all of the new Apple data centers, is it time for iCloud to get serious about storage?

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The Apple ecosystem is a large part of why I stick to an all-Apple line-up for my laptops, tablet and phone. iCloud is key to that, of course, providing seamless backup and syncing between devices.

Whether it’s my calendar, contacts, reminders, notes, ebooks or Safari bookmarks, all are available on all devices within a minute or two of me updating any of them. Documents I create in Pages, Numbers or Keynote are again available from any of my devices providing I choose to store them on iCloud. As I pay the extra for iTunes Match, I’m also able to stream any of my music from any device.

In some respects, Apple clearly takes the cloud seriously. It has invested massively in expanding its network of data centers, including a $1B investment in Reno, expansion in Maiden and new data centers as far afield as Hong Kong and the Netherlands. Yet, central as it is to the ecosystem, iCloud still feels a bit like it deserves the tag Steve Jobs famously applied to Apple TV: a hobby

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Mailbox goes beyond iOS, now available on Android and coming soon to OS X

Dropbox announced today that Mailbox, the popular gesture-heavy email client it bought last year, will soon be launching a desktop version of its software.

The company also announced a set of new features like Dropbox account sign in and syncing and delete automation coming soon to the iPhone and iPad versions that will debut first in a version available for Android; this marks the first time the email software will be available on another platform aside from iOS as Mailbox is available on the Google Play Store today.

Users interested in using the beta version of Mailbox for OS X (screenshot preview below), which is said to be very minimal and rely on the trackpad for gesture-based interactions, can sign up on Mailbox’s website to learn more about the upcoming beta. Read more

Up to 83% off 12 top rated iOS apps: 1yr. Parallels iOS access, Printer Pro, Scanner Pro, iDownloader Pro, Day One, more

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From 9to5Toys: Stack Social is offering up to 83% off on a collection of top rated apps for your iPhone and iPad starting today. The “StackUp iOS Bundleconsists of 12 award winning apps, 5 of which are ranked among the Top 10 in their respective categories: Printer Pro, Scanner Pro, iDownloader Pro, Day One, and FX Photo Studio.

While these apps have all been bundled in one place for you, you’re not stuck with the whole collection if you don’t want it. They are priced individually at the discounted rate meaning you can choose to only purchase and download the apps you want most.

Along with the rest of the bundled apps, you’ll find One Year Of Parallels Access on iPad for just $15. A year of Parallels access is normally $50 via in-app purchases through the free Parallels iOS app, so with today’s deal you’re saving $35 (70%).

The StackUp iOS Bundle: Up to 83% offPrinter Pro, Scanner Pro, iDownloader Pro, Day One, FX Photo Studio, Parallels Access and more…

You can see a complete list of the apps available along with a brief description and the regular price information below:

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Digitimes: iWatch circuit board samples being delivered to Apple in preparation for September reveal

Concept: jivaldi.com

Concept: jivaldi.com

On Tuesday we reported that Apple was planning to reveal its entry into the wearable market in August or September. Now a new Digitimes report corroborates that timeframe. According to the new report, three different firms have supplied Apple with samples of flexible circuit boards that will be integrated into the iWatch for a fall release.

The companies involved are Flexium Interconnect, Career Technology, and Zhen Ding Technology Holding, according to Digitimes. Zhen Ding Technology Holding is currently Apple’s largest supplier of such parts and is reportedly planning to increase production in order to meet increased demand for iPhone and iPad circuitry.

As with all Digitimes reports, it’s probably best to take this with a grain of salt given their less-than-stellar track record. Read more

New Steve Jobs email a treasure trove of information about Apple TV, Google ‘holy war,’ and behind-the-scenes strategy

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A new email from Steve Jobs that was published during today’s Samsung lawsuit (via The Verge) has revealed a lot about Apple’s plans for its products in 2011 and beyond. As we’ve previously noted, Jobs referred to 2011 as a year of “holy war” against Google, but this document goes above that and describes how exactly Apple planned to wage this war.

A few choice bits are below, followed by the complete email.

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What are the five iOS features Apple is claiming that Samsung (or Google) stole?

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With the second patent battle between Apple and Samsung now underway, we thought it would be useful to look at each of the five features Apple claims Samsung (or Google) stole from iOS.

The patents are, of course, worded in the usual dense legaleze. If you want to read them for yourself, you can find them on the US Patent and Trademark Office website in the links below. But here’s my reading of what each one is about, in plain English …  Read more

iOS 8: Apple works to further push iCloud as the future of the file system

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When Apple introduced both iOS and iCloud, its goal was to eliminate the classic file system found in Mac OS X and make synchronization so seamless between devices that it “just works.” Nearly three years after iCloud’s introduction, Apple is still moving closer to this goal. The company is working on a pair of new iCloud applications for iOS as well as improved tools for developers to build iCloud-infused applications, according to sources with knowledge of these initiatives…

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All Apple websites could be blocked in Belgium over AppleCare controversy

Image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

Belgian Apple Store concept image: belgium-iphone.lesoir.be

A Belgian judge is reportedly considering ordering local ISPs to block access to all Apple websites in the country in response to a long-running dispute over the company’s promotion of AppleCare warranties, according to local newspapers cited by Tech.eu.

A case brought by the consumer protection group FPS Economy argued that Apple misleads consumers by claiming a standard warranty of one year, and selling an optional AppleCare extension, when EU law means that manufacturers are legally obliged to offer a minimum warranty of two years as standard …  Read more