Apple, Google & other large tech companies urge the White House & Congress not to renew the Patriot Act

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Apple is one of ten tech giants to once again call on the US Government not to reauthorize the Patriot Act in its current form. The Act expires on 1st June unless it is renewed by Congress. Apple was joined by AOL, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo.

In an open letter to President Obama, NSA Director Admiral Rogers and other prominent government figures, the companies urge Congress to end the bulk collection of communications metadata–the logs that determine how and when ordinary citizens contact each other.

The letter says that mass surveillance must end, and that a revised bill must contain mechanisms to ensure that future government surveillance is both transparent and accountable …  Read more

Snowden: The CIA has been working “for years” to break iPhone, iPad and Mac security

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The Central Intelligence Agency has conducted “a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads,” claims The Intercept, referencing new Snowden leaks of a document from the CIA’s internal wiki system.

A presentation on the attempts, focusing on breaking Apple’s encryption of iOS devices, was said to have been delivered at an annual CIA conference called the Jamboree.

Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.

One route reportedly taken by the CIA was to create a modified version of Xcode, which would allow it to compromise apps at the point at which they are created …  Read more

Security flaw places Mac, iOS & Android users at risk from hacking on some major websites

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Cryptographers have discovered that a security flaw dating back to the ’90s is placing OS X, iOS and Android users at risk from hacking attacks when visiting some major websites, including American Express, Airtel, Bloomberg, Business Insider, Groupon, Marriott and many more.

The FREAK exploit allows an attacker to force a website to use lower-grade encryption for HTTPS connections, which can be cracked within a few hours when using a small botnet of just 75 computers. Once cracked, attackers would be able to hack the website as well as steal personal data from those visiting the site …  Read more

Tim Cook talks Snowden, Apple Car and Steve Jobs as the best teacher he’s ever had

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Tim Cook appears to be using his international tour, which so far includes Israel, Germany and the UK, to push a second product every bit as hard as the Apple Watch: privacy. In an interview with the German newspaper BILD posted yesterday (paywall), Cook went as far as to praise Edward Snowden for his role in prompting discussion of the issue.

If Snowden did anything for us at all, then it was to get us to talk more about these things. [Apple’s] values have always been the same.

The comments follow a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, at which data privacy was reportedly a key topic. Cook also told the Telegraph last week that “none of us should accept that the government or a company or anybody should have access to all of our private information.” Cook has in the past resisted FBI pressure to compromise its strong encryption, and was the only tech CEO to attend a recent White House cybersecurity summit.

In the BILD interview, Cook reiterated Apple’s stance on privacy, and also said that as Apple had grown larger, it had taken deliberate decisions to be less secretive about some aspects of its business …  Read more

Watch: Apple CEO Tim Cook talk cybersecurity at White House Summit

Tim Cook White House Summit on Cybersecurity

As we mentioned earlier this week, Apple CEO Tim Cook is in attendance at the White House Summit on cybersecurity today at Stanford University where he’s expected to discuss Apple, privacy, and security. Notably, Tim Cook is the only technology company chief executive participating in the event with the White House as CEOs at Facebook, Yahoo, and Google each declined deciding to send lower-level staff instead. Other CEOs in attendance include the heads of Apple Pay partners Bank of America and Visa as well as the chief executive officer of AIG. You can view a stream of the event below: Read more

Tim Cook only CEO taking part in today’s White House cybersecurity summit

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We learned earlier this week that Tim Cook would be speaking at a White House cybersecurity summit today, and it now appears he will be the only tech CEO to do so. USNews is reporting that CEOs of other top tech companies all declined President Obama’s invitation, sending lower-ranking execs in their place.

Unlike Apple’s Cook, other top executives at key Silicon Valley companies declined invitations to the summit. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer and Google’s Larry Page will not attend amid the ongoing concerns about government surveillance. Facebook spokesman Jay Nancarrow said Zuckerberg is unavailable to attend and that Chief Security Officer Joe Sullivan will speak during a panel at the event.

It’s believed other CEOs consider refusing to take part to be the best way to express their objections to increased government surveillance of electronic communications, while Cook takes the opposite view: that it is important to speak up in defence of user privacy …  Read more

Tim Cook scheduled to speak at White House cybersecurity summit this Friday

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Apple CEO Tim Cook is scheduled to speak at a White House “cyber summit” at the end of the week, The Hill reported today. The White House is expected to unveil a new cybersecurity program during the summit, and is bringing together leaders in technology and government to address the issue.

Cook’s exact talking points haven’t been revealed, but Apple has previously taken strong stances on issues of customer privacy—putting it in direct conflict with the Department of Justice at times.

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iOS 8.3 brings wireless CarPlay, improved Google login, new Emojis, China Apple Pay

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Earlier today, Apple seeded the first iOS 8.3 build to developers alongside Xcode 6.3 beta with Swift 1.2. Readers have discovered that the new operating system brings a new wireless CarPlay feature to the iPhone. This means that users can now wirelessly connect their iPhone to the car to bring an iOS-like experience the dashboard. Previously, users would have to connect their iPhone to the car via a USB Lightning cable. We first reported in March 2014 that Apple has been working on wireless CarPlay. It’s yet to be seen how long the wireless CarPlay rollout takes and which cars support it in the future. The new update also, like with OS X 10.10.3, brings easier Google login functionality for users with two-factor accounts:

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China accused of protectionism through new cybersecurity rules aimed at western tech companies

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The NY Times reports that the Chinese government has adopted a set of supposed cybersecurity regulations on western companies selling technology to banks. These requirements are so absurd that it would be impossible for companies like Apple to comply.

The Chinese government has adopted new regulations requiring companies that sell computer equipment to Chinese banks to turn over secret source code, submit to invasive audits and build so-called back doors into hardware and software, according to a copy of the rules obtained by foreign technology companies that do billions of dollars’ worth of business in China.

The paper reports that while the regulations are so far limited to sales to Chinese banks, they are merely the first in a series of new cybersecurity policies expected to be introduced in the coming months, and businesses fear that they are designed to protect local manufacturers from western companies. It was recently announced that Apple became the biggest smartphone seller in China in the final quarter of last year …  Read more

1Password for iOS adds one-time password tool for two factor auth, new login creator, more

The popular secure password management app 1Password is out with a big update today adding new features on both iOS and Mac. Arriving in version 5.2 of 1Password for iOS is a new login creator tool, a one-time password tool for use with two factor auth, new entry fields for pro users, and more. On the Mac side, 1Password version 5.1 was released adding a number of improvements to sync. This includes the ability to sync secondary vaults to iOS over WiFi. More on the major new features below:

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Tim Cook agreed to allow Chinese government to conduct security audits on Apple devices – local media

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Beijing News reports that Tim Cook has agreed to allow China’s State Internet Information Office to carry out security audits of Apple products sold in the country. Cook reportedly made the offer during his meeting with China’s Cyberspace Administration minister Lu Wei in December.

China has long expressed suspicion over the security of Apple products, seemingly resulting from frosty relations with the U.S. Government. A state-run TV station in China described the iPhone as a “national security concern” last July due to its location-tracking capabilities. Apple responded by pointing out that location data is stored on the phone, not on Apple’s servers, and is encrypted …  Read more