Forensic Scientist Reveals Suspicious Back Doors Running on iPhones

by Istvan Fekete on July 22, 2014

Apple designed the iPhone to be “reasonably secure” against a typical attacker but left a back door for itself and the government, forensic scientist and author Jonathan Zdiarski said at the Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE/X) conference (via ZDNet).

Zdiarski is known as the hacker “NerverGas” in the iPhone development community, as he has worked as a dev-team member on many of the early iOS jailbreaks and is the author of five iOS-related O’Reilly books including Hacking and Securing iOS Applications.

To fully understand what Zdiarski’s findings lead to, we need to go back a bit in time to December 2013, when security researcher Jacob Applebaum revealed an NSA surveillance program dubbed DROPOUTJEEP. The catch is that this program gave the agency almost complete access to the iPhone.
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Blackberry Hires New Enterprise-Oriented COO

by Jeff Wiener on July 22, 2014

Having long since conceded the fight for the consumer mobile market segment to heavyweights Android and iOS, Blackberry’s slim hope of survival has been squarely placed on the company’s renewed focus on enterprise, a return to its roots as a strong business-oriented mobile company. Perhaps as a sign of the company’s slow reversal of fortunes, gone are the days of reports of massive layoffs and divesting assets, replaced by the heartening announcement that Blackberry has hired a new chief operating officer, one who comes with an entire career of corporate focus.

Blackberry announced Monday that it has hired Marty Beard as the new COO, placing him charge of marketing, application developing, customer care, and quality, all of which Blackberry’s CEO John Chen describes as “cross-functional organizations.” Beard will also be tasked with managing “best practices and processes” for the company, so perhaps not all the bad news of layoffs is behind us.

But isn’t that how things have been for Blackberry of late, every bit of positive news accompanied by a healthy dose of something bad? Consider even the company’s entire renewed focus on enterprise, a rebranding that was supposed to see Blackberry finally carve out its own niche, away from the dominance of Apple and Android, only to see that Apple has followed Blackberry into the business world, looking to carve out a niche of its own.

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The Beginning of the End for Firefox

by Matt Klassen on July 22, 2014

Back in 2009 Firefox was on top of the world, enjoying the good life as the world’s go-to alternative Web browser, alternative to the far and away first place finisher Internet Explorer that is. Sure the browser’s second place 23.75 percent of the market share wasn’t world beating, but it was respectable; life was good at Mozilla. But like many things in life, the Internet is a fickle place, and shortly after that Firefox started its decline, the slow yet ominous beginnings of an avalanche that now threatens Firefox’s very existence.

Now with just a cursory glance at Net Applications’ web desktop browser market share reports over the last few years two things immediately jump out at me: the steady rise of Google Chrome, jumping into second place behind IE, and the precipitous drop of Firefox, the browser hitting a new five-year low at 15.6 percent of the market share.

There are no shortage of possible reasons behind Firefox’s diminishing presence, be it the alienation of casual users by short-lived Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich being (wrongly) labelled a bigot, or as web developer Jacob Barkdull explains, “Mozilla’s tendency to be slow to adopt and implement new web tech.” Whatever the reasons behind Firefox’s decline the numbers don’t lie, Mozilla’s browser is on the way down, and things will only get worse from here.

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Edward Snowden to Work on Privacy Technology

by Istvan Fekete on July 21, 2014

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, who is responsible for the biggest leak in modern US history, quit his job at the NSA last year, as he couldn’t stand by and watch the civil liberties of millions of people being eroded. More recently, he repeated a call he had made before to the tech industry: to step up and make safer, more secure, and privacy-aware technology for everyday tech products.

Speaking via a Google Hangout at the Hackers on Planet Earth Conference in New York, Snowden – besides repeating his previous call – hinted, without providing any further details, that he is going to take the initiative and will start that work himself. Of course, he is open to working with like-minded hackers.

“We the people — you the people, you in this room right now — have both the means and the capability to help build a better future by encoding our rights into the programs and protocols upon which we rely every day,” he said. “And that’s what a lot of my future work is going to be involved in, and I hope you’ll join me … in making that a reality.”
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Landmark Apple and IBM Partnership makes for Strange Bedfellows

by Matt Klassen on July 21, 2014

One needs only to look at the rare 1983 photo of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs giving IBM the finger to comprehend the monumental gap in philosophy between Apple’s popular consumer-friendly “cool” vibe and IBM’s stuffed-shirt “legacy” persona. In fact, in the early days of the computer revolution there was no love lost between these two tech giants, but time, as they say, heals all wounds…and makes for the strangest bedfellows.

To that end, Apple and IBM announced last week that they have signed a landmark partnership deal, and while early reports indicate that hell has not frozen over, such a partnership is one of those paradigm altering arrangements that simply can’t help but alter the landscape in today’s tech industry.

But what could have changed so radically in the last several decades to make the once hated rivals into schoolyard chums? As TechNewsWorld writer John P. Mello explains, while “It may not be a marriage made in heaven…the cloud is pretty close.” The reality is that the deal between these two companies is relatively simple, Apple will maintain its cool while getting something IBM has always had: enterprise credibility.

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Microsoft to Kill Off Nokia’s Feature Phones, Android SmartPhones

by Istvan Fekete on July 18, 2014

Following its April acquisition of Nokia, Microsoft has announced that it plans to cut up to 18,000 jobs globally this year. Since Microsoft has127,104 employees — Nokia staff included — this accounts for nearly a 15% cut to its workforce.

Most interestingly the cuts are coming from the Nokia Devices and Services unit it acquired recently for $7.2 billion. The company is now proceeding with 13,000 of the job cuts, and the majority will come in the next six months.

Some 12,500 of the cuts are coming from the Nokia unit — which means that Microsoft will cut about half of that unit’s workforce. The reaction from Finland came shortly after the announcement: politicians and workers’ leaders in the country reacted with anger at the news that 1,100 jobs in the country will be lost due to Microsoft’s restructuring plan.
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Smartphones as Diagnosticians: Displays that Analyze Bodily Fluids

by Matt KlassenJuly 18, 2014

As weird as it sounds there might come a time in the not-so-distant future where smartphones will assume yet another dominant role in our lives: health care diagnostician. While likely unable to fully replace a doctor, new developments in smart glass technology will allow a smartphone to analyze fluids on its surface, meaning all you [...]

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BlackBerry Introduces Siri-like Virtual Assistant

by Istvan FeketeJuly 17, 2014

Artificial intelligence is a hot topic nowadays tech companies such as Apple, Google, are Microsoft are all experimenting with a new technology called ’deep learning’. This technology is the key to providing a seamless customer experience when using virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri, Android’s Google Now and Microsoft’s Cortana. But there is a new boy [...]

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FCC extends Public Feedback Period as Comment System once again “Overwhelmed”

by Matt KlassenJuly 17, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission is extending the public comment period regarding its latest controversial revision to its Net Neutrality proposal, as a last minute surge in traffic threatened to topple the site. Saying nothing about the propensity of many of us to leave weighing in on such an important topic to the last minute, this [...]

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Project Zero: Google’s Secret Team of World-Class Hackers, Hunting Zero-Day Vulnerabilities

by Istvan FeketeJuly 16, 2014

George Hotz’s name first became known after he cracked AT&T’s lock on the iPhone back in 2007. He was 17 at the time and the carrier officially ignored him, while surreptitiously ensuring the weaknesses he exposed were rectified. He subsequently reverse engineered the Playstation 3, which earned him a lawsuit from Sony. The parties only [...]

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