Hackers try to extort Apple by threatening to wipe iPhones

Someone claiming to be a group of hackers called themselves the “Turkish Crime Family” has apparently been trying to extort money from Apple. As Motherboard reported a few days ago, the group claims to have login details for hundreds of millions of Apple accounts and is threatening to remotely wipe devices via iCloud unless it’s paid $ 75,000 in Bitcoin or $ 100,000 in iTunes gift cards. Today, ZDNet says that it was able to verify 54 accounts revealed by the hackers, although it’s still unclear how many other accounts they have or how they came by them.

In a statement, Apple said its systems have not been breached, and the alleged list appears to have been obtained from other sources. It also says it’s “actively monitoring” to prevent unauthorized access and is working with law enforcement.

Apple:

There have not been any breaches in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud and Apple ID. The alleged list of email addresses and passwords appears to have been obtained from previously compromised third-party services.

We’re actively monitoring to prevent unauthorized access to user accounts and are working with law enforcement to identify the criminals involved. To protect against these type of attacks, we always recommend that users always use strong passwords, not use those same passwords across sites and turn on two-factor authentication.

Because of shared passwords, hackers frequently use details obtained in other breaches to try and access more valuable accounts, which may be happening here. Previously, we’ve seen hackers try to extort users directly this way, using Find My iPhone to remotely lock devices until they’re paid. We’ve contacted Apple and will update this post if there are any other details.

Now that at least some of the information has been verified, it seems like a good time for anyone who has (or used to have) an Apple or iCloud account to update and lock down their security settings. Even if these hackers (or someone else) has obtained a password for your account, using two-factor authentication should keep them from being able to access details or remotely wipe devices.

Instructions on setting up two-factor authentication for your Apple ID can be found here. Additionally, if you haven’t changed your password in a while, or have ever shared it with an account anywhere else, it’s a good idea to change it to something strong and unique. Visit Apple’s password reset page at https://iforgot.apple.com/ (check for the secure padlock and correct URL in your address bar) to do that now.

Source: ZDNet

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Apple is reportedly reinventing the iPhone’s fingerprint reader

Future iPhones may revolve around more than just an eye-catching curved display. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who frequently (though not always) has a knack for hardware scoops, believes that Apple is designing a whole new Touch ID fingerprint reader for future iPhones and iPads. In order for Apple to virtually eliminate bezels, it needs a reader that sits under the screen — and that means a brand new optical sensor. Development is underway, the analyst says, but development is still early enough that the technology might not be ready in time for the 2017 iPhone.

You might not even need a fingerprint sensor in the future, though. Kuo claims that Apple is looking at using face recognition (not just iris recognition) as a part of the next iPhone’s features, and may even scrap Touch ID in the long run. Face recognition isn’t new (just ask anyone using Android since 4.0), but it would have to be advanced if people are going to ditch fingerprint reading entirely. It couldn’t be fooled by a photo, for instance, and would have to be both very fast and adaptable to a wide range of conditions. You don’t want to have to enter your PIN just because it’s too dark.

Biometrics might not be the only area getting an overhaul thanks to the reported new screen. Kuo understands that the iPhone 7’s existing approach to 3D Touch won’t work with the next iPhone’s curved OLED panel, prompting a switch to a “film sensor.” The change would lead to greater sensitivity and more pressure levels, so you might not have to jab the screen quite so authoritatively as you do today.

As always, it’s important to take these claims with a grain of salt. Analysts can have the inside track on future products thanks to suppliers, but they may have incomplete info or discuss features that are subject to change. Don’t be alarmed if these features don’t make the cut, or if they show up in ways you didn’t expect. If there’s any credibility to the reports, though, unlocking and interacting with your iPhone may be much easier in the near future.

Source: 9to5Mac (1)

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The iPhone’s legacy, 10 years later

January 9th, 2017 is a milestone day in the technology world: It’s the 10th anniversary of Apple’s iPhone. Yes, it’s been a full decade since Steve Jobs took to the stage and introduced the device that many credit with defining the modern smartphone. But was it an overnight revolution? Well, no. Despite all the initial hype, the iPhone actually represents a gradual reinvention strung across many years. It wasn’t the first out of the gate with many basic concepts, but its fresh approaches to those concepts helped smartphones escape their niche business-tool status and become the must-have companion devices they are now.

The most conspicuous improvement is the one that’s likely staring you in the face: the touchscreen. While touch-enabled phones were far from a novelty in 2007 (PalmOS and Windows Mobile had supported it for years), Apple was the first to implement a touchscreen you wanted to use. Most touch displays at the time were resistive (pressure-based), with all the precision and sensitivity of a billy club. Complex gestures were out of the question, and you frequently had to use a stylus with interfaces that simply weren’t meant for your fingers. It’s no wonder why many touch-capable phones at the time still had keyboards and directional pads. Why poke at the screen when it was less painful to tap buttons?

The iPhone’s capacitive screen and multi-finger touch interface were revelations in comparison. Not only could you ditch the pen — you could use intuitive gestures like flicks and pinches. You could focus on actually getting things done instead of fighting with controls, and apps like the web browser (which was the first truly full-featured mobile browser, we’d add) were a joy to use. Even in 2007, it was clear to many that large capacitive touchscreens were the future. Most big phone makers started shifting away from resistive displays and physical buttons, and those that were slow to change (BlackBerry and Nokia in particular) wound up struggling. Apple definitely wasn’t alone in spurring the adoption of modern touch: Android helped it take off in a big way, particularly when the Motorola Droid arrived in 2009. The iPhone got the ball rolling, though, and it’s safe to say that the shift toward touch wouldn’t have happened so quickly without Apple’s help.

iPhone Goes On General Sale In Tokyo

It wasn’t just hardware that made a difference, as the iPhone was also crucial to jumpstarting the market for smartphone apps. Mobile software certainly existed before, but the industry was almost hostile to its very existence. You often had to ‘just know’ where to find apps, and those portals that existed either demanded exorbitant royalties from developers or were controlled by carriers eager to exclude apps that competed with their services. Even installation and updates were awkward. It wasn’t uncommon to find smartphone owners who’d never downloaded a third-party app. Why would they when they didn’t know where to go or what to do, and creators frequently shied away?

Enter Apple’s App Store, introduced alongside the iPhone 3G in 2008. It suddenly gave legions of smartphone owners easy access to third-party software. Moreover, the barriers to making and selling those apps were much lower — when there were straightforward tools, better royalties and millions of potential customers, even tiny teams could make blockbuster hits. Mobile apps quickly became much more popular, and in some cases vital. Would social services like Instagram and Snapchat be as big as they are today if the App Store hadn’t made their concepts practical? Would smart homes or wearables exist if you couldn’t easily get the apps that make them work? The app model that the iPhone pioneered made built-in software stores virtually mandatory on smartphones, and those handsets wouldn’t be as dominant as they are today if there weren’t an abundance of apps to fulfill tasks that would otherwise require a PC.

The iPhone hasn’t always changed the game quite so dramatically. In many cases, it was more about nudging technology forward just enough that it became popular. Take video chat, for instance. The concept certainly existed before FaceTime arrived with the iPhone 4 in 2010 (more than a few phones already had front-facing cameras), but it was Apple’s dead-simple approach that made the difference. If you had someone’s phone number, you could start a video call. There were no special carrier fees or complex video conferencing solutions to fight with. While FaceTime didn’t conquer the world the way the App Store or multi-touch screens did, it spurred demand for video chat services and served as the template for extra-simple apps like Google Duo.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs Unveils New iPhone At Developers Conference

You can even argue that some tech wouldn’t have gotten very far without an iPhone boost. Fingerprint readers are the classic examples. Before the iPhone 5s, fingerprint scanners on phones were frequently more trouble than they were worth (ahem, Motorola Atrix). Touch ID simplified it down to a quick and easy tap, and spawned the surge in fingerprint readers you’re seeing in everything from the latest Samsung Galaxy through to the Google Pixel. Recent efforts to get rid of passwords might not be as feasible if fingerprint readers still required multiple swipes.

Mobile payments got a similar bump. There’s no doubt that the iPhone was late to the tap-to-pay party when Google Wallet and other options were available years earlier, but Apple Pay was the first to really get some traction. It didn’t require carrier support, special apps or other convoluted terms — you just had to keep your thumb on your home button while buying your coffee. Android Pay and Samsung Pay certainly do some things better, but there’s little doubt where they got the basic idea for their fingerprint-based shopping.

And let’s not forget voice recognition. Although Google Assistant and Microsoft’s Cortana have clear advantages, it was Siri on the iPhone 4S that kicked off the concept of a built-in AI-powered assistant. Before then, voice commands were primarily restricted to direct, robot-like instructions. The iPhone introduced plain-language questions, contextual answers and other concepts that many take for granted today.

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To be sure, the iPhone has sometimes been (and occasionally, still is) on the trailing edge. It took until 2014 to get an iPhone larger than 4 inches, well after Steve Jobs was convinced nobody would buy one. You can’t use the near-field wireless for anything but payments. You also can’t add removable storage, swap your battery or get a greater-than-1080p screen. And of course, enthusiasts who insist on choice and customization still have a good reason to prefer Android or Windows 10 Mobile.

Even so, it’s evident that the iPhone has created a vast legacy over the past 10 years. One way or another, the smartphone in your pocket owes a small debt to what Apple has done, whether it’s the basic design or a feature you use every day. And the competitive landscape has forever changed. All the rival smartphone platforms from 2007 either died or lost most of their relevance, and you can trace their downfalls back to their inability to adapt to the iPhone’s breakthroughs in a timely way — even if Android was sometimes the one to sound the death knell. The next 10 years probably won’t be nearly as revolutionary given how mature the smartphone market is these days, but that doesn’t diminish the iPhone’s past accomplishments.

Image credits: Kiyoshi Ota/Getty Images; David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Reuters/Maxim Zmeyev

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Foxconn exec faces 10 years for stealing 5,700 iPhones

A senior manager at Foxconn, the company that makes Apple’s iPhone handsets, is facing 10 years incarceration after being charged with the theft of 5,700 iPhones valued at nearly $ 1.5 million. According to AsiaOne, the Taiwanese testing department manager, identified only by his family name Tsai, coerced eight of his subordinates to smuggle iPhone 5 and 5Ses out of the Foxconn Shenzhen plant between 2013 and 2014.

Apparently, these phones were designated for testing, rather than sale, which could explain how the gang managed to take so many without tipping off security. However, an internal audit conducted earlier this year outed the group.

Via: Business Insider

Source: AsiaOne

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Apple starts selling refurb iPhones through its online store

If you’ve ever wanted to buy an iPhone straight from Apple but thought that brand new unlocked models were out of your reach, you’re in luck. Apple has started selling refurbished iPhones in its US online store, with hefty discounts depending on what you want to buy. An unlocked 16GB iPhone 6s is selling for $ 449, or $ 80 off the usual price; splurge on a 64GB iPhone 6s Plus and you’ll shell out $ 589, or $ 110 less than usual. The iPhone SE and iPhone 7 are absent, but that’s not surprising given that owners have only had them for several months at best.

This won’t be as big a bargain as you’d get by purchasing an iPhone through a used goods site, an auction or a friend. However, you’ll get both a year-long warranty and the knowledge that there won’t be any rude surprises when you open the box. In short: if the thought of shopping on eBay or Swappa makes you nervous, this is your best bet.

Via: MacRumors

Source: Apple

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iOS update fixes your iPhone’s missing Health data

The iOS 10.1 update addressed a lot of initial gripes with Apple’s latest mobile operating system. However, it also introduced a glaring bug for some users: the Health app might not show your data, which is more than a little troublesome if you’re a fitness maven or need those stats for medical reasons. Don’t fret, though. Apple has released an iOS 10.1.1 update for the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch that makes sure you can see Health info. This is a relatively tiny update (the over-the-air fix is well under 100MB for many iPhone users), but it’ll matter a lot if you’re tracking step counts or calories with your Apple gear.

Via: 9to5Mac

Source: Apple

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Apple’s iOS 10 is bricking iPhones

Apple’s iOS 10 just dropped this morning and, less than an hour after launch, the landings haven’t been smooth for everyone. From the get-go, Twitter has lit up with reports of people’s phones (including your humble Engadget contributor) getting bricked or otherwise stuck in the update-restore process.

It appears iPhones weren’t the only devices having trouble with the update, either. As Brianna Wu noted on Twitter, the update has also bricked her iPad Pro.

Apple, for their part, issued a statement saying: “We experienced a brief issue with the software update process, affecting a small number of users during the first hour of availability. The problem was quickly resolved and we apologize to those customers. Anyone who was affected should connect to iTunes to complete the update or contact AppleCare for help.”

Of course, that’s cold comfort for someone still staring down the “Connect to iTunes screen.”

This story is still developing…

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OS X update could use iPhone’s Touch ID to unlock Macs

As we approach Apple’s annual WWDC event that starts June 13th, the rumors about upcoming iOS and OS X features are sure to ramp up. This week, MacRumors is reporting that the company is working on a way for you to unlock a Mac using your iPhone’s Touch ID feature. The security measure is said to bypass a typed log-in using Bluetooth when the phone is “in close proximity” to a computer running OS X. As MacRumors notes, there’s a similar feature on the Apple Watch that allows an unlocked iPhone to provide access to the wearable without the need to enter a second password.

If this Touch ID to unlock a Mac functionality sounds familiar, the third party Knock app for iOS and Apple Watch unlocks a nearby computer with those devices rather than having to key in a password. Back in March, Recode reported that Apple Pay was on its way to the browser for making purchases on the web. This new report suggests that the Touch ID interaction with Macs will be used to confirm those transactions as well. As is the case with any rumor, it pays to be a bit skeptical. However, we won’t have to wait long to see if this news is indeed true.

In terms of other rumors for OS X 10.12, reports indicate that Siri could finally make its debut on the desktop. This week, rumblings surfaced about the design of the dock icon, but we’ll have to wait a few more weeks to see if that virtual assistant or Touch ID unlocking will be a part of this fall’s software update.

Source: MacRumors

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