Once again, the FBI is putting pressure on Apple to help them break into the phone of a mass shooter. And once again, Apple has been largely resistant to the effort. Which is good, because a government having control over a private company that gives them secret backdoor access into people's personal technology devices is an authoritarian wet dream waiting to happen.
It also doesn't matter anyway because — as Reuters pointed out this week — Apple already buckled under FBI pressure a few years and cancelled their plans to add end-to-end encryption to all iPhone backups in iCloud:
The company said it turned over at least some data for 90% of the requests it received [from the FBI]. It turns over data more often in response to secret U.S. intelligence court directives, which sought content from more than 18,000 accounts in the first half of 2019, the most recently reported six-month period.
But what if the FBI wants access to someone's locked iPhone, and they haven't backed it up to iCloud? They still don't need Apple's help, because — as with the San Bernardino shooting — there are plenty of third-party companies that can and will gladly solve the problem in exchange for money.
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Over the past three months, OneZero sent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to over 50 major police departments, sheriffs, and prosecutors around the country asking for information about their use of phone-cracking technology. Hundreds of documents from these agencies reveal that law enforcement in at least 11 states spent over $4 million in the last decade on devices and software designed to get around passwords and access information stored on phones.
We can expect three new “iPhone 11” models this fall from Apple, according to the official unofficial rumor mill. Each of these is said to be designed with an A13 chip, a Lightning port, and a new 'Taptic Engine' that will replace iPhone's current 3D Touch. Read the rest
Scotty from Strange Parts famously built a fully-functioning iPhone from replacement parts sourced in Chinese electronic wholesale markets. Now he's gone a step further, and upgraded one to have a headphone jack: "Is it possible? I'm headed to Shenzhen to find out!"
I’m pretty proud of the final implementation. I took apart an Apple lightning to headphone adapter, put that inside the phone, and hooked it up by man in the middling the lightning jack with a flexible PCB. The PCB has a switching chip that switches between connecting the headphone adapter to the phone by default, and then disconnecting it and connecting the lightning jack when something is plugged into it. I have a couple other timer chips that briefly disconnect everything from the phone when something is connected/disconnected to improve the reliability of the phone detecting when something is plugged/unplugged (otherwise it sometimes gets confused).
You won't be doing this work with the soldering iron grandpa left ya.
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MixBin Electronics is recalling approximately 275,000 iPhone cases of various styles that all contain glitter suspended in liquid. According to the company, "The cases are being recalled due to the risk of skin irritation, blisters or burns if the liquid contained in the phone case leaks and comes into contact with the skin due to breakage or cracking of the case." From CNN:
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The company announced the recall after 24 reports worldwide of skin irritation or chemical burns. Nineteen of the reports came from the United States, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission...
One consumer reported permanent scarring from a chemical burn, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. Another consumer reported chemical burns and swelling to her leg, face, neck, chest, upper body and hands, the commission said.
The plastic cases were made in China.
Customers should immediately stop using the recalled cases and contact MixBin for a refund, according to the commission's report.
The Mophie Sync/Charge Lightning/USB cable ($10 on Amazon) is the perfect short cable for charging an iPhone from a portable charging battery. It twists and bends and holds its shape. It's now part of my travel kit. Read the rest
The Wall Street Journal (paywall) reports that the FBI payed more than $1m to get into the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone after Apple refused to create software to bypass its encryption. The Washington Post reports that a one-off $1.3m price tag was admitted, obliquely, by FBI Director James Comey by comparison with his own salary.
Federal authorities have not publicly revealed who helped the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone, which was at the center of an extended fight between the government and Apple. The Justice Department had maintained that only Apple could help it access the phone without erasing all of its data before abruptly saying it had gotten help from an outside party and no longer needed Apple’s assistance.
According to people familiar with the issue, the FBI cracked the phone with the help of professional hackers who were paid a one-time flat fee. Law enforcement officials have said recently that the FBI has found no links to foreign terrorists on the phone, though they are still hoping that geolocation data on the device could help reveal what the attackers did during an 18-minute period after the shooting.
The FBI's attempts to compel Apple's cooperation backfired after CEO Tim Cook publicly accused the Bureau of exploiting the case to try and gain backdoor access to iPhones in general. The phone ultimately yielded no useful information.
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“But it was, in my view, worth it,” the FBI director said of what it cost to access the phone’s data.
Apple has apologized to users whose phones were bricked by a recent update that interpreted third-party repairs as attempts to hack the device. It also released a new update that revives the dead handsets through iTunes.
Some customers’ devices are showing ‘Connect to iTunes’ after attempting an iOS update or a restore from iTunes on a Mac or PC. This reports as an Error 53 in iTunes and appears when a device fails a security test. This test was designed to check whether Touch ID works properly before the device leaves the factory.
Today, Apple released a software update that allows customers who have encountered this error message to successfully restore their device using iTunes on a Mac or PC.
We apologize for any inconvenience, this was designed to be a factory test and was not intended to affect customers. Customers who paid for an out-of-warranty replacement of their device based on this issue should contact AppleCare about a reimbursement.
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Apple is warning people not to change the date on iPhones to May 1970 or earlier because it "can prevent your iOS device from turning on after a restart." Apple has promised a software update that will prevent this from happening. In the meantime, don't try it on your late model (64 bit) iPhone, because it will likely brick it.
In the above video, Tom Scott explains why changing the date to 1/1/1970 breaks the phone.
If you can't resist setting the date back to see what happens, this video will show how to unbrick it. Be warned - you'll have to open your phone to fix it. Read the rest
Good news from the Malabar Front: they will record 4K video, have higher resolution photos, more RAM, faster chips, and come, optionaly, in "Rose Gold." [9to5 Mac] Read the rest
Los Angeles police are searching for the identity of this burglar, who accidentally shot and published a selfie with his victim's iPhone. Read the rest