Archive for September 10, 2021

Epic Games Might Be Looking To Appeal App Store Ruling…. While Apple Declares Victory

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

Much as I assumed, Epic Games was not happy about today’s ruling in the App Store lawsuit. So much so that Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney Tweeted this:

That sounds like an appeal is on the way from Epic Games. What precisely it would be appealing and on what grounds isn’t clear to me. But much as I figured, this is going to continue. Also, Sweeney makes it sound like it’s up to him as to when his games return to the App Store. It isn’t up to him. It’s up to Apple. And I am going to go out on a limb and to say that his games are not going to be welcome back into the App Store anytime soon.

Meanwhile over at Apple, they had this to say:

And in a statement to 9to5Mac, Apple also called it “a huge win for Apple” and “a resounding victory”. I guess that’s some great spin. But as I type this, this is Apple’s stock value:

It’s a safe bet that the value of their stock dropped because Apple will have to open things up to accept alternate payment methods will deprive them of the up to 30% cut of revenue that they currently get. And that’s making investors somewhat nervous. This is why I expect them to appeal.

Round 2 anyone?

UPDATE: This article on The Verge confirms that Epic Games is appealing today’s ruling.

BREAKING: Judge Rules ThatApple Is Not A Monopoly, But Must Allow Alternate Payment Methods For Apps… And That Epic Must Pay Up

Posted in Commentary with tags , on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

We have a decision in the Apple vs Epic legal battle. Here’s the highlights:

  • Apple must allow developers to include alternate purchase links in apps on the App Store. Apple has 90 days to comply with this order. On this count, Epic won.
  • Epic needs to pay damages equal to “30% of the $12,167,719 in revenue Epic games collected” through Epic Direct Payment, plus any revenue collected through November 1 to date of judgement, plus interest. That’s because the judge ruled that Epic was in breach of Apple’s contract clauses. Thus Apple won on this count.
  • The judge was clear that Apple is not a monopoly. The judge said that “success is not illegal” and that Epic could not demonstrate that Apple was engaging in monopolistic behavior. On this count, Apple won.

Back to the first point that I made. Apple had already announced that it will allow what it calls “Reader” apps (Netflix for example) to have alternate methods of payments because the Japanese investigated Apple and Apple cut a deal to make that go away. But the way that this order is written, it means Apple must allow developers of all applications to link out to third-party payment solutions. Most notably, this includes the highly lucrative games category. That will affect Apple’s bottom line. Thus I would not be surprised if Apple appeals this.

From the Epic standpoint, they can’t be happy. They have to cut a rather big cheque. Plus they couldn’t prove that Apple was a monopoly. The only thing that could be considered a win is that they can steer users to their payment system. But I am not sure if that is enough for them. Also, Apple doesn’t have to let them back onto the App Store as they violated their contract with Apple. That for sure will not make them happy.

I would recommend staying tuned as I am sure that this is not over. But in the meantime, here’s the relevant legal documents for your review:

Microsoft Teams Comes To Apple CarPlay… Here’s What You Can Do With That

Posted in Tips with tags on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

Yesterday I went to run a quick errand in the car and I noticed this in CarPlay:

In my CarPlay interface, I noticed a Microsoft Teams icon. I had not noticed that before, so I checked to see when it was last updated and in my case, it was updated on September 2nd. So I am guessing that that update brought this CarPlay support. I then went about experimenting to see what it was capable of. That amounted to two things.

The first was that you could call someone on Teams using Siri. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Click on the Teams icon in CarPlay.
  2. Siri will then appear. At that point you could say something like “Call John Smith on Teams” or if you wanted to call multiple people, you could say “Call Jack Smith and Jane Smith on Teams”

The second thing that you can do is join a Teams meeting. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Click on the Teams icon in CarPlay.
  2. Siri will then appear. At that point you could say something like “Call next meeting using Teams”. That assumes that your next meeting in your Teams calendar. If it’s not, that command will not work. But assuming you do, it will connect you to your meeting (Assuming you arrive no more than 15 minutes before the meeting starts and as late as five minutes after the meeting starts). All the controls will be look and act like a regular phone call.

I should note that you can only use Teams audio for obvious reasons. And I should also note that when you join a meeting, your mic is muted. Again for obvious reasons.

One thing that I should point out is that all of this assumes that Siri is not blocked by your IT admin. So if any of this doesn’t work for you, you might want to read the document that I just linked to.

Hopefully this will be the start to further support of Teams in Apple CarPlay as the pandemic has required all of us to work from anywhere. If you’ve found anything else of note, drop a comment below and share what you’ve found.

UPDATE: I have also found that Teams chat messages will show up in CarPlay and be read to you. However there does not seem to be any way that you can respond to them.

ASUS Announces Best-Ever Performance At 2021 Red Dot Brands & Communication Design Awards

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

ASUS today announced that it has achieved its best-ever performance at the prestigious 2021 Red Dot Brands & Communication Design Awards ceremony, picking up a total of five accolades across multiple disciplines — including Digital Solutions, Brand Design & Identity, Film & Animation, Packaging Design and Interface & User Experience Design.

Each year, companies globally are invited to take part in Red Dot’s Brands & Communication Design Awards. All entries are assessed by the expert Red Dot judging panel with regard to their design and creative performance. Specifically, for the Brands aspect of the awards, the jury assesses vision and brand values, design and brand communication, and brand identity and differentiation. For Communication Design, the core criteria are originality and creativity, design quality and innovation, and comprehensibility and emotional significance.

In being awarded winning status in five out of 18 categories, ASUS has built on its year-on-year success at the Red Dot Brands & Communication Design Awards — notching up more accolades than ever before — and sent a strong signal that is now a leading force in both branding and communications design. This leveling-up of our success is also recognition of the fact that ASUS is committed to designing every detail of its products, packaging and customer experiences.

Full details of the Red Dot Brands & Communication Design Awards achieved by ASUS and Republic of Gamers (ROG) in 2021 are as follows:

ROG Citadel XV: Digital Solutions Award

During CES 2021, we unveiled ROG Citadel XV — a new, innovative and joyful way to discover more about ROG products. ADC collaborated closely with third party animator studios to develop an ambitious virtual experience unlike any other. The result is an exciting interactive experience that includes stories from the ROG visual universe, a gallery tour of the latest ROG devices, and an FPS-style minigame.

ROG Brand Book: Brand Design & Identity Award

ROG has designed a brand book that both explores and frames the history, design, technologies and innovations of the ASUS gaming sub-brand, from its inception to now. The unique design of this brand book outlines ROG’s brand values, core vision and product aesthetics.

ROG Flow X13: Film & Animation Award

The product video for ROG Flow X13 is unique, envisioning a futuristic world out of space where viewers are immersed into the universe of product innovation and design. It also explores the incredible performance and features unleashed by the remarkable ROG Flow X13 gaming laptop.

ASUS Zenfone 8: Packaging Design Award

ASUS has long understood that in order to deliver the incredible experiences, every step of the customer journey is essential – and that’s why the Red Dot judging panel appraised the packaging of Zenfone 8 as worthy of its Packaging Design Award. The sleek packaging has a premium feel and finish to deliver a heartfelt unboxing experience. The package even includes a color-matched case for Zenfone 8, ensuring that the product is protected and ready to use, right out of the box.

ROG Phone 5 Ultimate: Interface & User Experience Design Award

The Red Dot jury also recognized the unique nature of the packaging that enrobes ROG Phone 5 Ultimate. Specifically, the unboxing experience provides access to a unique chronicle rendered on the phone’s display via augmented reality (AR). When firing up ROG Phone 5 Ultimate for the first time, the user is invited to scan the book-like interior of the packaging. This in turn triggers an immersive AR experience that builds into a story that forms the start of their gaming journey. Storytelling is at the center of the user experience, deepening the unboxing experience to help the user become immersed in gaming from the get-go. At every step of the unboxing, the user discovers more content and story behind ROG Phone 5 Ultimate.

AVAILABILITY & PRICING

ROG Citadel XV is available to download from Steam. The ROG Flow X13 and ASUS ZenFone 8 are now available in Canada. The ROG Phone 5 will be available in Q4 2022 in Canada.

United Nations Computer Systems Pwned By Hackers Earlier This Year

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

Apparently back in April of this year, the United Nations had their computer systems pwned by hackers who made of with some data. And apparently according to Bloomberg, it wasn’t all that hard:

The hackers’ method for gaining access to the UN network appears to be unsophisticated: They likely got in using the stolen username and password of a UN employee purchased off the dark web.

And:

The credentials belonged to an account on the UN’s proprietary project management software, called Umoja. From there, the hackers were able to gain deeper access to the UN’s network, according to cybersecurity firm Resecurity, which discovered the breach. The earliest known date the hackers obtained access to the UN’s systems was April 5, and they were still active on the network as of Aug. 7.

Ouch. Well that’s a #EpicFail. And the #EpicFail gets worse. The company who found this hack had this sequence of events happen when they informed the UN:

UN officials informed Resecurity that the hack was limited to reconnaissance, and that the hackers had only taken screenshots while inside the network, according to Resecurity. When Resecurity’s [Chief Executive Officer Gene] Yoo provided proof to the UN of stolen data, the UN stopped corresponding with the company, he said. 

So the UN shot the messenger. A response that I am seeing more and more of.

The data that the hackers made off with could be used to target agencies within the intergovernmental organization. Which of course is really bad. Saumitra Das, CTO and Cofounder, Blue Hexagon had this to say:

 “Initial access via credentials purchased from the dark web is now becoming standard modus operandi. So much so that we now have Initial Access Brokers (IABs) who specialize in just that and then sell off that access to other entities like ransomware affiliates or state sponsored groups.”

     “Usually, organizations are too focused on the perimeter and once the attacker is inside there is little visibility on-premises and in the cloud. Organizations need to focus on both Endpoint and Network monitoring with a well-defined approach to detection engineering to deal with these types of stealthy attacks.”

Given how frequent hacks like this have become, businesses of all sizes should heed this advice.

Guest Post: What the Hack? Things You Can Do Every Day to Stop Cyber Criminals in their Tracks

Posted in Commentary on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

If you haven’t yet had your online accounts hacked, count yourself lucky. Cybercrime is real; cyber criminals are real; and they’re proving to all of us that nothing is safe. Do you know how the companies you do business with are protecting your information? Or do you cross your fingers or pray that everything will be fine? 

It’s time to take matters into your own hands, suggests cybersecurity and IT expert Jeff Birner. “You are your own biggest weakness, but changing just a few of your behaviors can reduce the chances that your online accounts get breached,” he said.

Here are some of Birner’s tips for protecting yourself from cyber-attacks:

Use Multi-Factor Authentication

Arguably the most effective thing you can do to protect your online accounts is turning on multi-factor, or two-factor, authentication for as many of your accounts as possible. The method uses a secondary piece of information—often a code generated by an app or sent via SMS—alongside a password.

This secondary piece of information helps to prove it really is you trying to log in, as the codes are often accessed on the phone in your pocket. Even if you do have a password that’s easy to guess (we’ll get to that shortly), an attacker is unlikely to get access to an account with multi-factor authentication turned on unless they have your phone.

Get a Password Manager

It’s 2021. You shouldn’t be using “password” or “12345” for any of your passwords—even if it’s a throwaway account.

All the passwords you use for your online accounts should be strong and unique. They should be long, include a mixture of different character types and not be used across multiple websites. Your Twitter password shouldn’t be the same as your online banking one; your home Wi-Fi network shouldn’t use the same credentials as your Amazon account.

Password managers create strong passwords for you and store them securely. Plus, you never have to struggle to remember a forgotten password again.

Learn How to Spot a Phishing Attack

Quickly clicking can be your worst enemy. When a new email or text message arrives, and it includes something that can be tapped or clicked, our instinct is to click. Don’t. Hackers have used the pandemic as a cover to launch wave after wave of phishing attacks and dumb Google Drive scams. Be cautious, think before you click, and download files only from people and sources you know and trust.

Update Everything

Every piece of technology you use—from the Facebook app on your phone to the operating system that controls your smart lightbulb—is open to attack. Thankfully, companies are always finding new bugs and fixing them. That’s why it’s crucial you download and update the latest versions of the apps and software you’re using.

Encrypt Everything

Protecting your communications has never been easier. Over the last half-decade, companies handling our personal data—including the messages we send and the files we upload to the cloud—have realized that encryption can help them as well as their customers. Using encrypted services means that what you’re sending is better protected against surveillance and won’t be accessible if your device gets lost or stolen.

Wipe Your Digital Footprint

The past can come back to haunt you. The old online accounts you no longer use and the login details that belong to them can be weaponized against you if you don’t do anything about them. Hackers frequently use details from previous data breaches to access the accounts people currently use. Reducing the amount of information that’s available about your online life can help cut your risk of being hacked. A very simple step is to regularly delete your Google search history.

About Jeff Birner

Cyber and IT expert Jeff Birner is a highly sought-after analyst who launched his firm in 2017 in St. Petersburg, Florida. His stellar work has helped many companies strengthen their approach to cyber security, and he also advises everyday people on ways to prevent the pitfalls of being hacked.

#Fail: VMware Fusion For M1 Macs Beta Announced With No Windows Support

Posted in Commentary with tags on September 10, 2021 by itnerd

I’m a big fan of VMware Fusion as that’s my go to for running virtual machines on my Mac. As you can see, my review of it was very positive. But as I prepare to migrate from my Intel based MacBook Pro to a presumably M1X based MacBook Pro when those appear later this year, it appears that I will likely not be running VMware Fusion. VMware announced yesterday that VMWare Fusion will be coming to M1 Macs with the first beta release compatible with Apple Silicon. But it’s a closed beta that you need to apply for via an online form. A public beta release will be available in about two weeks, which could mean that the official release might come by the end of this year. This news was announced by Michael Roy who manages the VMware Fusion and Workstation product lines via Twitter:

But there is one significant catch. VMware Fusion will not provide support for running Windows virtual machines on Apple Silicon Macs. This is because Microsoft does not sell official licenses to allow you to run Windows 10 ARM on Mac. And to make matters worse, VMware isn’t making drivers and VMware tools software available to allow users to “roll their own” Windows VMs. This was confirmed via another Tweet:

Here’s the problem with this. Parallels has M1 support and allows you to run Windows, and Parallels uses the beta ARM version of Windows to do this. While going this route may bring some legal issues, it is supported. And clearly Parallels isn’t afraid of Microsoft smacking them silly the way that VMware appears to be:

If VMware decides not to bring support for Windows to Fusion and work out something with Microsoft, you can expect a massive defection to Parallels who either have worked out a deal with Microsoft, or simply don’t care. And I will be among them as I need the ability to run Windows 10 and occasionally Windows 7 virtual machines to troubleshoot customer issues and test things like malware in ways that are risk free.

Now maybe VMware has some grand plan to bring Windows support to a future beta. They haven’t said that. But I hope so. Because even though VMware is the gold standard for virtual machines, they don’t currently have a solution for myself and others. And it will end up costing VMware.

Your move VMware.