Apple Inc Stories March 21

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Researchers from Johns Hopkins University have found a vulnerability in iMessages that allowed them to decrypt both photos and videos sent via the service. Apple said that iOS 9 provided a partial fix – making the attack method more difficult – while it is fully fixed in iOS 9.3.

The Washington Post reports that the team advised Apple of the flaw, and will publish a paper as soon as iOS 9.3 has been officially released, expected for later today. The team has, however, explained in outline how their attack worked …

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A detailed behind-the-scenes look by Bloomberg at the showdown between Apple and the FBI details how it had been on the cards for years before the San Bernardino shootings. Among the details revealed are that Apple provided the FBI with early access to iOS 8 so that the agency could understand the impacts ahead of its introduction.

The government’s concern about Apple’s increasing use of strong encryption dates back to 2010, said one source.

Long before iOS 8 was launched, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies had fretted about Apple’s encryption, according to a person familiar with the matter. In 2010, the company introduced the video-calling app FaceTime. It encrypted conversations between users. The following year, the iMessage texting application arrived; it, too, featured encryption. While neither of these developments caused a public stir, the U.S. government was now aware how much of a premium Apple put on privacy.

It was around this time, says the piece, that the FBI started pushing the White House to introduce new legislation which would guarantee law enforcement access to data on smartphones and other devices. These attempts were reportedly abandoned when the Snowden revelations changed the public mood …

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Apple Inc Stories March 18

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Apple Inc Stories March 17

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When the celebrity nudes story broke back in 2014, it was headline news in the mainstream media. The story was that ‘iCloud had been hacked.’ The truth, of course, was a little different. As we suspected at the time, and Apple later confirmed, the ‘hack’ wasn’t really any such thing. A combination of two techniques were used to gain access to the iCloud accounts.

First, phishing: sending emails designed to look like they were from Apple asking the celebrities to login to their accounts, and directing them to a fake website made to look like the real thing. Second, guessing the answers to security questions – something easier to do with celebrities given the amount of biographical information available in the public domain.

That’s not to say Apple was entirely blameless. iCloud did not, at the time, offer two-factor authentication. Given that an iCloud backup is a near-complete copy of all the data stored on an iPhone, that was something which should have been included from the start. But the bottom-line is that iCloud itself wasn’t really hacked in any meaningful sense of the word.

It was this week confirmed that phishing was the approach taken by the main offender in this case. In other words, nothing whatsoever to do with iCloud security. This news hasn’t resulted in a single headline in the mainstream media. The average non-tech person out there still believes ‘iCloud was hacked’ …

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Apple Inc Stories March 16

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Fight for the Future, the protest group that organized demonstrations in support of Apple outside its retail stores, plans to hold a demonstration outside the next Apple/FBI court hearing on March 22nd. Re/code reports that the group has created a website inviting people to voice their support for secure iPhones, comments from which will be displayed outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Riverside, California.

The FBI wants to force Apple to weaken the security measures that keep all of us safe. This is misguided, and dangerous. On March 22, when Apple goes to court, we’ll display thousands of statements from Internet users outside the courthouse.

Fight for the Future has so far had mixed success with its protests …

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