Apple Promised to Enhance iCloud Security

The tech giant is going to add more security steps that would allow to keep hackers out of user accounts following the celebrity nude photo scandal. In addition, Apple will aggressively encourage users to take stricter measures.

The company will alert users via email and push notifications when detecting an attempt to change an account password, restore iCloud data to another device, as well when a device logs into an account for the first time.

Apparently, the company is moving quickly to restore confidence in iCloud security ahead of the very important event for Apple: the launch of its new iPhone is scheduled for September, 9. This is why the tech giant is going to broaden its use of the two-factor authentication security system in order to prevent future intrusions. If you don’t know, two-factor authentication demands users to have two of three things to access an account: for example, a password, a separate 4-digit one-time code, or a long access key the user gets on signing up for the service.

Apple is going to more aggressively encourage people to turn on the two-factor authentication in the new version of iOS, which release is also scheduled for September. The company explained that the attacks on celebrities’ iCloud accounts were individually targeted, and the investigation revealed that none of those cases had resulted from a failing of Apple systems.

iCloud allows the owners of Apple devices to store pictures and other material and access it from any iOS or Mac device. Although security in the cloud has remained a concern in past years, it couldn’t stop the rapid adoption of services offering reams of storage and management of data copied across from phones and computers.

A number of security experts claimed that the tech giant failed to make its devices and software easier to secure via two-factor authentication, as the latter requires a separate verification process after the initial log in. They argued that Apple could do more to advertise that option, since most people naturally don’t bother with security measures because of the extra hassle. They explain that the usability battle will always be there, but you can’t ever imagine using the bank card at an ATM without entering a pin. This is exactly how two-factor works: you have a card and you know a pin. One doesn’t work without another.

Source: ET

Apple Will Launch New iPhone on September 9

The tech industry expects that Apple’s next iPhone with a larger screen will be unveiled in two weeks. The company confirmed the date of its highly anticipated iPhone 6 launch event by sending out invitations featuring a close-up image of the top of the Apple logo saying “Wish we could say more”.

The event will take place in the Flint Centre in Cupertino. The company is expected to reveal a new larger smartphone at the event, with a 4.7in screen. The new device is expected to compete with larger phones manufactured by Apple’s rivals Samsung, LG, HTC, Sony and even Microsoft. The rumors are that the company will also announce the launch of another new iPhone with a larger 5.5in screen and wearable.

In addition, the industry expects that the new Apple’s smartphone will have a harder, more scratch-resistant sapphire screen. However, the recent indications from the supply chain suggest that the tech giant may struggle to meet demand for the new screen.

Traditionally, the fall event will also mark the launch of the new iPhone and iPad software, iOS 8. The updated system will include lots of new features focused around flexibility and interaction with Apple’s desktop and laptop machines.

Finally, the company’s new Health application is supposed to capitalize on the increasingly popular “quantified self”, collecting information from various fitness trackers and medical devices into a single application. In this connection, many industry observers expect iPhone 6 to also include expanded fitness tracking and health monitoring capabilities.

In the meantime, the market researches suggest that the iPhone 6 may become the biggest launch in Apple’s history. The matter is that the current demand for the new larger smartphone is expected to be extremely high, with iPhone users upgrading to the larger form factor popularized by Android and Windows Phones.

iPhone is what most of Apple customers are waiting for, but the tech giant is also expected to launch a smartwatch later in 2014. This device is expected to compete with the new raft of Google smartwatches from LG, Samsung, Motorola and others. However, it is unknown for sure whether Apple is going to reveal it during the September event.

Source: ET

UK Changed Attitude to Pirates

It seems that the advisors of UK Prime Minister are already unhappy with forcing Internet service providers to send their customers notifications when they pirate films, music and TV shows.

A few days ago, the Prime Minister’s IP advisor claimed that it’s time to realize that the currently employed scheme might fail and the government needs to turn to something more enforceable – for example, disconnections, fines, and even jail sentences.

The industry experts confirm that the UK Digital Economy Act has been running for 4 years on and is seen as pointless in overwhelming majority of cases. The idea was to educate the casual file-sharer about legitimate alternatives in the hope the user would change their behavior.

But this plan failed, as serious file-sharers could ignore the rules by using foreign proxy websites which were untraceable. Ordinary users were receiving 4 notifications and then nothing was happening. The advisor believes that four years is enough for the government to understand that they need to start thinking what to do if these warnings are ignored by infringers.

He says that notifications and fines are first steps, but blocking access to the web and custodial sentencing for damaging infringers should not be ruled out either. Of course, jail won’t be immediately on the cards for infringers. Education has to come first, with a special attention paid to informing consumers that illegal file-sharing is not in their best long-term interests and is not socially acceptable. In the meantime, the industry will be forced to get their product right and attractive to consumers.

But once the authorities had won the hearts and minds of content consumers and offered suitable product, keeps the option of enforcement of copyright legislation on the table when all else has been exhausted. David Cameron replied that he would closely consider his advisor’s report.


Online Filters Block 20% of Popular Sites

About 20% of the most popular websites on the Internet are being blocked by the porn filters employed on local broadband and mobile networks. For example, it was noticed that a Porsche car dealership, a couple of feminist websites, a blog on the Syrian War and a political website suffered from the filters recently installed in the United Kingdom.

The Open Rights Group has recently surveyed the 100,000 most popular websites to discover that 19,000 of them were blocked by a fixed line or mobile ISP – and sometimes even by more than one provider.

In the United Kingdom, for example, 4 mobile networks have used filters for a while now, following a push by David Cameron. Broadband companies have caught up, introducing porn blocks that allow parents to screen out potentially harmful content. Every subscriber will be asked whether he or she wishes to apply a broadband filter by 2015. Adult content filters screen out pornography, along with suicide and self-harm related content, weapons and violence, gambling, drugs, alcohol and tobacco. Moreover, people can also decide to block dating, music and movie piracy, games and social networking.

The Open Rights Group explained that such filters can stop customers accessing your website, block political commentary or harm your education. In other words, the government pushes people into filtering lots of content that they simply don’t need to.

The examples are numerous. An American who moved to the UK wanted to read an article about recovering from childbirth on her mobile phone, but it was blocked by her mobile network, Three, who for some reason imposes a filter as default for all pay as you go customers.

A Porsche brokerage has recently found their website blocked by O2’s filter. Emails and calls brought no results in having the ban lifted, until the company began tweeting about the problem. All O2 responded with was “mistakes can happen”.

Syrian War commentator’s blog was screened out by EE, O2, Sky and Vodafone., writing about sexual health, violence against women and lesbian and gay rights, was blocked by TalkTalk a few months ago. The worst thing is that the ban boils down to advertising revenue.

Finally, The Guido Fawkes website is also blocked for subscribers who have selected to screen out all social media. This includes Facebook, Twitter, blogs and chat forums.

50% of UK Children Think Content Should Be Free

Almost half of children and teenagers in the United Kingdom think that people should be allowed to download content for free. The survey involved 614 children, aged 8-15, asking about their attitudes to online media and digital consumption. The results revealed that almost half of them agree that people should be able to download or access any content for free.

The surveyors confirm that the general consensus was that digital content should be free or at least cheaper than conventional content. It is not a secret that file-sharing is still popular amongst younger adults and children. People are motivated by cost, availability of content and convenience of the content. At the same time, the researchers note the growing usage of legitimate alternatives to file-sharing. Although younger adults demonstrate less concern and understanding about piracy and digital rights, they are keen to see punitive action taken against Internet service providers and search engines.

The researchers also point out that some of that belief may stem from a lack of faith in copyright. Only 7% of the respondents agreed that file-sharing is stealing, although almost half of them realized that it’s wrong to access material on the Internet without the creator’s permission. However, when asked about file-sharing like BitTorrent sites and file lockers, only 6% agreed that using the websites is easy and it has become normal.

As a result, it became clear that children aged 8-15, who are the key adopters of digital technology, are likely to know better how to access content without paying. At the moment, online file-sharing is most common amongst younger adults, with cost and availability being their key drivers.

The researchers realize that children in this generation have grown up with digital content and are used to having access to whatever they need, at the convenient time for them, sometimes even not paying for it. However, it should be said that it is not just file-sharing that drives the attitude. Therefore, Internet services offering a free service (normally ad-supported), like Spotify and YouTube, are very popular amongst teenagers.

The industry experts point out that all recent studies suggest the same solution to addressing illegal file-sharing: offering easy-to-use services at fair prices. However, the creative industry stubbornly continues to refuse to adapt to the reality and complain about everyone stealing from them.

US Supreme Court Prohibited Unwarranted Cellphone Search

The US Supreme Court has recently delivered a landmark endorsement of electronic privacy, claiming that police have to obtain a warrant if they want to search the contents of cellphones seized from people they have arrested.

The opinion of the court recognized that modern mobile phones store a digital record of nearly every aspect of their owners’ lives, and therefore may disclose a large volume of personal data if searched. The judges said the fact that people are now able to carry such information in hands doesn’t make the data less worthy of the protection. The court clearly said the police must get a warrant before searching a cell phone.

The court considered two separate cases connected with the searches of cell phones after people’s arrests in the US. Both individuals were convicted of crimes after data recovered from their phones led police to other evidence. The justices sided with their arguments saying that the warrantless cell phone searches weren’t permitted under the 4th Amendment of the Constitution, which protects US citizens from unreasonable searches.

The governments opposed that police could search digital content from cell phones in the same manner they are allowed to handle physical diaries or pictures held by someone at the time of their arrest.

The court acknowledged that by barring police from making warrantless searches, they complicate their lives. The justices officially admitted that their decision will influence the ability of law enforcement to fight crime.

Still, in the end the court decided that information stored on a cell phone in a digital form can’t itself be used to harm the police or to escape. As such, the police are allowed to examine the physical aspects of the device to make sure it won’t be used as a weapon. However, the information on the device can’t harm anyone.

One of the justices joined the court’s main ruling, but filed a separate opinion to suggest Congress and state legislatures be given leeway to design new rules which would limit the requirement to obtain a warrant in special cases. Privacy outfits welcomed the decision, calling it “revolutionary” and saying that it would help to protect the privacy rights of all US citizens. It is good that the court can recognize that the government’s ability to rummage through the private lives should be limited.

Russian Government Avoid Using AMD and Intel Chips

Russia seems to believe that using Intel and AMD chips is unsafe, and the government wants home grown chips used in their computers. According to Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry, they can replace Intel and AMD chips with domestically-produced micro processor called Baikal. The project of developing it will worth millions of dollars.

The Industry and Trade Ministry claimed that the Baikal micro processor can be developed by a unit of T-Platforms, a manufacturer of supercomputers, as soon as in 2015. The project will be supported by the state defense conglomerate Rostec and co-financed by the state-run technological giant Rosnano.

The developers reveal that the first products will be Baikal M and M/S chips, created on the basis of 64-bit nucleus Cortex A-57 manufactured by British company ARM. The chip will have frequency of 2GHz for personal computers and micro servers. Under the project, the Baikal chips will be installed on machines in the government bodies and in state-run companies, which acquire about 700,000 PCs every year worth $500 million, plus 300,000 servers worth $800 million. The experts estimate the total volume of the market at around 5 million devices worth $3.5 billion.

The Russian Federation got suspicious about Intel and AMD after the revelations of the American government’s spying program. At the time, Cisco routers appeared to have been intercepted and installed with bugs. Since then, the US tech industry is afraid that the other governments can follow Russia in response to the infamous US spying program.

Facebook Was Down for Half an Hour

The social network was unavailable worldwide for 31 minutes, and users turned to other platforms – most of them did so to ask what’s going on or to complain. This was the longest outage on the website for 4 years. Users couldn’t access both the website and Facebook smartphone and tablet apps, and they decamped to other social media platforms to complain.

Facebook collapsed on Tuesday morning, showing visitors the error message saying: “Sorry, something went wrong. We’re working on getting this fixed as soon as we can”. You could be watching these lines for 31 minutes, until the website and apps were back to normal.

The company explained that they experienced a problem preventing people from posting to Facebook for a brief period of time. The specialists said they had resolved the issue quickly, and were back to 100% in half an hour. The company apologized for any inconvenience that may have caused in an official statement. However, it is unknown what caused the outage.

In the meantime, publishers saw referral traffic from the network fall off a cliff as the outage hit. However, people didn’t just shut down their browsers and get off their machines. Instead, they turned to other social networks to trawl for information on what had happened to Facebook. Twitter, for example, saw a huge increase in traffic. Some users even went to Google+.

The last time Facebook was down for any length of time was four years ago, when an error in error checking software took offline the main database for two and a half hours. At the time, it was also the worst outage for the period of over 4 years, and Facebook explained in the official statement that the problem at the time was caused by “an unfortunate handling of an error condition”. It turned out that an automated system for verifying configuration values somehow caused much more damage than it fixed.

Apple Reached Settlement on Book Cartel Case

Apple has recently reached some strange settlement with American states and other complainants in the infamous e-book pricing class action lawsuit. The settlement means that the company will be able to avoid a trial where it faced over $800 million in damages.

Nevertheless, Apple still hasn’t admitted that it ran a cartel to increase the price of e-books. The company has decided to reach the agreement as a backup in case it fails to win the appeal. US District Judge found that the software giant participated in a price-fixing conspiracy to prevent online retailer Amazon’s dominance in the e-book market.

Now the company is trying to appeal that decision and the new settlement will be contingent on the outcome of its appeal. According to the plaintiffs’ lead lawyer, any payment the company promises to make under the settlement agreement will depend on the outcome of that appeal. This means that if Apple wins the appeal, it won’t pay anything at all. The judge ordered the parties to submit a filing to seek approval of their settlement within one month.

The US Department of Justice sued Apple and 5 book publishers two years ago, accusing them of illegal cooperation to increase e-book prices. The company is still refusing to admit that it has done anything wrong.

In the meantime, it is known that the complainants are seeking up to $840 million in damages for their e-book customers. Still, the exact amount of claims will be decided at a trial in the middle of July. Five e-book publishers who are accused of being Apple’s co-conspirators (Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins Publishers, Penguin Group (USA), Macmillan and Simon & Schuster), has already agreed to pay over $166 million to settle antitrust charges.

South Korea and EU Will Develop 5G Together

South Korea and the European Union agreed to cooperate on developing 5G wireless network technologies and are expected to come up with a global consensus on standards. The countries have finally come to a conclusion on the need for a harmonized radio spectrum policy in order to ensure global interoperability of 5G networks, along with global technical standards.

The parties will also collaborate with the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, a group of telcom standards organizations, as well as with the International Telecommunication Union that sets global policies for spectrum use. The European Union and South Korea have decided to form a joint research and development group and cooperate on developing ICT services for the cloud and the Internet of Things, apart from many other areas.

This move was supposed to ensure a globally agreed definition and standard for 5G telecommunication networks in the future. The Vice-President of the European Commission for the Digital Agenda arrived in Seoul a few days ago to sign the agreement, saying that the move would certainly speed up and make sure that the European Union wins the global race to create 5G network. Earlier in 2014, the Commission set 2020 as the goal to introduce 5G networks across Europe.

The new agreement would see the European Union and South Korea launching jointly funded research projects in two years. As for South Korea, the country is planning core 5G wireless technologies to be ready in time for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, while the world’s first 5G network services are expected to be introduced by 2020.

Of course, these plans put Samsung into the spotlight, as the company has already successfully tested technologies considered key to 5G back in 2013. The country’s major carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus are currently fighting for the right to become the first 5G network provider.