Archive for January, 2019

New York State Opens Investigation Into FaceTime Bug

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 31, 2019 by itnerd

Apple’s problems with that FaceTime bug that allowed people to listen into conversations just got a whole lot worse. Bloomberg is reporting that the New York officials including New York Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Andrew Cuomo are opening an investigation into the FaceTime bug and they will be focusing on Apple’s failure to warn consumers about the bug and its slow response:

This FaceTime breach is a serious threat to the security and privacy of the millions of New Yorkers who have put their trust in Apple and its products over the years,” James said in the statement on Wednesday. 

“We need a full accounting of the facts to confirm businesses are abiding by New York consumer protection laws and to help make sure this type of privacy breach does not happen again,” Cuomo said in the statement.

This is on top of being sued by a lawyer who claims that a deposition was eavesdropped upon via this bug. New York State tends to be very aggressive when it comes to this sort of thing and if they determine that Apple did something wrong, it will not end well for Apple. Especially if you consider that they might have known about this bug for some time before acting on it as per this tweet from yours truly:

Take it from me. Apple is in very deep trouble here and if I were Tim Cook, I would be working night and day to not only get out that software fix ASAP, but to repair what’s left of Apple’s reputation. Because at the moment their reputation is very, very tarnished.

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My Apple Watch Band Collection

Posted in Products with tags on January 30, 2019 by itnerd

As many of you know, I’ve owned several iterations of the Apple Watch. I’ve had the Series 2, the Series 3 with GPS, and the Series 3 with GPS + Cellular and Series 4 with GPS + Cellular. But some of you have asked what bands do I wear on a regular basis. Thus I decided to write a quick article on what bands I use regularly. As in not ones that I have and maybe worn long enough to review it, but ones I use frequently whenever I need a different look or when I need something when work out.

Let’s start with what I store my watch bands in. Which is the Twelve South TimePorter

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This has enough space to hold all my Apple Watch bands. Plus you can put an Apple Watch charger in it along with a slim battery pack to allow you to charge on the go. You can even fold it up to a 45 degree angle to use it as a display stand which is a great use case for a hotel room. It’s $60 CDN or $40 USD and is available from the Twelve South website or from selected retailers. It’s totally worth it if you have a number of Apple Watch bands.

Now to the bands themselves. For sporting purposes, I am currently using the Tech Bergen Sport Loop Flash Band:

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As you can see, it is reflective. Something that you previously only get with the Nike Edition Apple Watch as it is not sold separately. At least not at the time I am typing this. And you can precisely adjust it so that it is comfortable and pick up your heart rate accurately, while ensuring that the Apple Watch stays firmly on your wrist. At $15.99 CDN on Amazon it’s totally worth it. Now in addition to this strap, I also put a Road ID For Apple Watch onto it which will provide emergency information to first responders should the worst happen when I am out on a ride or on a hike. You can’t be too careful these days.

Now for everyday use, I use the Dalinch Apple Watch Stainless Steel Mesh Milanese Loop

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At $20 CDN is a whole lot cheaper than the $200 that Apple wants for their version. It looks classy and goes with pretty much anything that I wear. But it seems not be available for sale on Amazon anymore which is a shame as it’s quite a good option.

When I want to go slightly more upscale for a special event, I turn to the Jisoncase 2-in-1 Genuine Leather Wrist Band For Apple Watch:

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It’s a leather strap that provides a classy look which adds a turn of style to your Apple Watch. So if you’re going to a formal event, you can have your Apple Watch dressed to match. At $17.15 USD, this is a bargain.

That’s my Apple Watch band collection. What Apple Watch bands do you use? I’d be interested in hearing from women with Apple Watches as seeing as I have put forward a collection for men. Thus I figure that many women would be interested in what women use. But male users should join in on the conversation as well by leaving a comment and sharing their thoughts.

 

Facebook Is At It Again By PAYING People To Install Data Harvesting VPN Software…. Yet Another Reason To #DeleteFacebook [UPDATED]

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 30, 2019 by itnerd

You might recall that Facebook and their data harvesting VPN were punted from the Apple App Store because it violated the App Store rules. It now seems that Facebook is fighting back in a very unique way. They’re PAYING people between 13 to 35 up to $20 per month along with referral fees to sideload the Facebook Research app using an enterprise certificate on the iPhone. And this has been going on since 2016. If you’re not familiar with the concept of sideloading, let me explain it this way. On iPhones you can only install apps from the App Store unless they are enterprise certificate that big companies use to install custom apps. Now using an enterprise certificate is legitimate, unless you are doing what Facebook appears to be doing. In any case, TechCrunch exposed Facebook’s “Project Atlas” program that encompasses this. And to cover their tracks, Facebook has been using beta testing services like Applause, BetaBound and uTest to recruit participants to install the Facebook Research app.

Facebook confirmed the program in a statement provided to TechCrunch and said that the Facebook Research app was “in line with Apple’s Enterprise Certificate program,” though that does not seem to be the case based on Apple’s Enterprise Certificate policy. Which means that Facebook is lying. But I guess they had a change of heart as they decided to deep six this program. But only on iOS. It still exists on Android. I’m guessing that Facebook figured out that Apple could simply invalidate the certificate that these scumbags are using seeing as Apple issues these certificates which would put an end to this. So they decided to beat them to the punch and spin it in some positive light when there’s nothing positive here at all.

Here’s the bottom line. Facebook is not to be trusted in any way, shape or form. This is the latest example of this. And at some point they don’t deserve any more chances to be trusted. Instead, they should be wiped out of existence. That should start with Apple punting the Facebook app off the App Store along with anything other apps that Facebook makes.

UPDATE: Apple has apparently revoked the certificate that Facebook used with “Project Atlas” which as a side effect has also killed the ability for Facebook to test pre-release versions of Facebook, Instagram and other apps internally. Plus it’s also taken down employee only apps as well. This apparently is being treated as a 911 event within Facebook. Apple has commented that they did this because Facebook was in “clear breach of their agreement with Apple.” and they had the right to revoke the certificate “which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.”

Sucks to be you Facebook because you deserve this.

Lawsuit Filed Over FaceTime Debacle

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 30, 2019 by itnerd

Bloomberg is reporting that Houston based lawyer Larry Williams II today filed a lawsuit against Apple claiming that his iPhone allowed an unknown person to listen in on sworn testimony during a client deposition. Which if that’s true is proof positive why this bug is so dangerous. He wants unspecified punitive damages for negligence, product liability, misrepresentation, and warranty breach.

I fully expect this to be the first of many lawsuits to come. I say that because Apple over the last little while has called out other companies for the stances on privacy. But now the shoe is on the other foot. And I bet they don’t like it very much. But you know what they say about glass houses and stones. Perhaps Apple should keep that in mind while they fix this issue, and their reputation.

Guest Post: Nord VPN Discusses The Fact That The Japanese Government Will Hack Citizens’ IoT Devices

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 30, 2019 by itnerd

Last week, the Japanese government approved a law amendment that will allow its employees to hack into people’s Internet of Things (IoT) devices as part of an unprecedented survey of insecure IoT devices.

The government reportedly wants to secure IoT devices before Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics to avoid Olympic Destroyer and similar attacks.

The Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) employees, under the supervision of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, will be allowed to use password dictionaries and default passwords to attempt to log into consumers’ IoT devices. The result of the survey should be a list of insecure IoT devices in Japan, which will enable the authorities and internet service providers to take measures and secure the devices.

“Since the IoT industry is in its infancy, almost all of the devices have the potential to become cybersecurity risks. In a rush to get them into the market, most manufacturers are ignoring the security side. From this point of view, the Japanese government’s concern has merit,” says Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN.

“However, it is understandable why this amendment has sparked outrage in Japan. It seems as an excessive measure, as the same results could be achieved by sending a security alert to all users or informing people via media. It is also not completely clear what other sensitive data might be collected during the survey and how it will be handled.”

Daniel Markuson, Digital Privacy Expert at NordVPN, recommends that all IoT owners living in Japan take security measures upfront, before the survey begins:

  • Change passwords. Default factory passwords should be changed to strong ones, containing capital letters, numbers and symbols. Passwords should be different for each device.

  • Update all devices. Manufacturers often fix critical security vulnerabilities with updates.

  • Create an offline WiFi LAN. Most IoT devices can operate on a LAN (local-area network). Such local network can connect smart devices inside one’s home without the need to connect to internet.

  • Secure the router. Some routers can support VPN encryption. Routers with a VPN will allow to connect IoT devices in an office or home, but no incoming communication with them will be possible. This may be inconvenient if user wants to control IoT devices remotely, though.

It is estimated that over 200 million private and business owned IoT devices, such as web cameras and routers, will be tested in Japan. The survey should start next month.

The Olympic Destroyer malware was deployed before the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in South Korea in 2018 by Russian hackers. A similar attempt to built a botnet of IoT devices and home routers was noticed before the 2018 UEFA Champions League final that was to be held in Ukraine.

Guest Post: Flipsy Discusses Why Used Smartphones Are Worth More Than Ever

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 30, 2019 by itnerd

Flipsy.com has some insights about used smartphone values. With the Galaxy S10 expected to cost $885 (and a souped-up version expected to go for more than $1,800) it’s no wonder more people are opting to buy used smartphones – and that’s good for sellers, because used smartphones are worth more than ever.

  • In 2016, the Galaxy S7 cost $699. One year later, it could be sold for $260 – a value retention of 37%
  • When released, the Galaxy S8 (2017) cost $750 and the Galaxy S9 (2018) cost $720. One year after release, each phone was worth $325 – retaining 43% and 45% of their values, respectively
  • That means the 2017-2018 Galaxy S models respectively retained 16% to 21.6% more of their original values after one year than 2016 models did

Market demand for used phones is increasing as many people don’t want to shell out a lot of money for new smartphones. Consider:

  • The average selling price of top-end smartphones has increased by $400 since 2015 (from $600 to $1,000, representing a 67% increase) (Deloitte)
  • The global used device market is expected to grow by 97% from 2017 to 2025 (from $19.7 billion to $38.9 billion) (Forbes)
  • At least 10% of the smartphones purchased in 2016 will still be in use in 2020 and beyond, many with three or more owners (half of those phones are traded in, half are sold on the private market) (Deloitte)

Given the surging used smartphone market, driven by increased demand and excellent flagship value retention, those buying the Galaxy S10 would be wise to offset their costs by selling their old phones.

Flipsy.com helps people get more money for their old phones by instantly comparing the highest-paying offers from more than a dozen Trust Verified stores. You can see how it works here: https://flipsy.com/sell/Samsung-Galaxy-S9?carrier=Verizon

Canada Is More Digitally Mature Than Global Average: Dell

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 29, 2019 by itnerd

Despite the relentless pace of disruption, the latest Dell Technologies Digital Transformation (DT) Index Global Results shows worldwide many businesses’ digital transformation programs are still in their infancy. Canadian businesses, however, are making strides to become digital adopters and leaders on the world stage. This is evidenced by only 21% of Canadian businesses believing they’ll struggle to meet changing customer demands within five years, while the global average is 51%.

Dell Technologies, in collaboration with Intel and Vanson Bourne, surveyed 4,600 business leaders (director to C-suite) from mid- to large-sized companies across the globe to score their organizations’ transformation efforts. The Canadian specific results were initially revealed in October 2018.

The study revealed that emerging markets are the most digitally mature, with India, Brazil and Thailand topping the global ranking. In contrast, developed markets are slipping behind: Japan, Denmark and France received the lowest digital maturity scores. Canada ranked in the middle, but slightly higher the global average. Notably, Canada is only one point behind the UK and five points behind the US.

Behind the curve

The DT Index II builds on the first ever DT Index launched in 2016. The two-year comparison highlights that progress globally has been slow, with organizations struggling to keep up with the blistering pace of change. While the percentage of Digital Adopters has increased, there’s been no progress at the top. Almost four in 10 (39%) businesses are still spread across the two least digitally mature groups on the benchmark (Digital Laggards and Digital Followers).

Here’s how Canada ranks on the global stage:

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Barriers to transformation and confidence 

The findings also suggest business leaders are on the verge of a confidence crisis, with 91% held back by persistent barriers. Canada is slightly lower with 89%.

The top five barriers to digital transformation success:

  1. Data privacy and security concerns (2nd place for Canadian businesses)
  2. Lack of budget and resources (1st place for Canadian businesses)
  3. Lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise (4th place for Canadian businesses)
  4. Regulation and legislative changes (not listed in the top 5 for Canada)
  5. Immature digital culture (not listed in the top 5 for Canada)

These barriers are hampering digital transformation efforts. Regardless, there is a sense of urgency among business leaders and right now 83% of Canadian businesses believe that digital transformation should be more widespread throughout the organization. This figure is higher than the global average of 78%.

Plans to realize their digital future

Leaders have reported common priorities and investments to aid future transformation, including an increased focus on workforce, security and IT. In Canada, investments in initiatives which enable digital transformation to occur is up and is expected to continue rising.

Top technology investments for the next one to three years:

  1. Cybersecurity (also the top investment priority for Canadian businesses)
  2. Internet of Things technology (ranking 4th for Canadian businesses)
  3. Multi-cloud environment (ranking 2nd for Canadian businesses)
  4. Artificial intelligence (ranking 3rd for Canadian businesses)
  5. Compute centric approach (ranking 5th for Canadian businesses)

Digital maturity score rankings

Most digitally mature countries:

  1. India
  2. Brazil
  3. Thailand
  4. Mexico
  5. Colombia

Least digitally mature countries:

  1. Japan
  2. Denmark
  3. France
  4. Belgium
  5. Singapore

Research methodology

During the summer of 2018, independent research company Vanson Bourne surveyed 4,600business leaders from mid- to large-size companies across 42 countries/sub-regions to gaugetheir organizations’ place on the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index. Vanson Bourne classified businesses’ digital business efforts by examining their IT strategy, workforce transformation initiatives and perceived performance against a core set of digital business attributes.

Additional resources