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Microsoft founder Bill Gates says he supports the U.S. government in its efforts to unearth the contents of a terrorist's iPhone, countering a trend by other tech leaders to back Apple's refusal to code a backdoor into its iOS operating system. Gates appears to have made the case, however, that he is in favor of the government's request because he feels it is narrowly worded.  "This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information," Gates told the Financial Times in a story published Monday night Pacific time. "They are not asking for some general thing; they are asking for a particular case." "It is no different than [the question of] should anybody ever have been able to tell the phone company to get information, should anybody be able to get at bank records," Gates added.  Why this matters: The issue concerns data stored on the iPhone which may or may not have national security implications.

The FBI originally confiscated an Apple iPhone 5c issued to San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook by his employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health.

The FBI then asked the government for an order compelling Apple to defeat the hardware safeguards it built into the iPhone by sideloading code that would remove those safeguards and allow the government to decode the PIN protecting the data by brute force. Otherwise, the iPhone could automatically delete all data on the phone after 10 incorrect passcode attempts. Set for a showdown Apple has refused, however, and has said that the case involves the "freedom and liberties" of its customers.
It has asked the government to form a commission to decide the matter.  Legally, the issue is set to come to a head in March, when lawyers from both sides present their arguments. Gates is on the side of most Americans, who apparently side with the government against Apple's position. However, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, along with Google executive Sundar Pichai, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, have all come out in favor of Apple, and consumer privacy.  Gates told the FT, however, that he encouraged a "debate" so that citizens of individual countries did not feel that they would be forced to restrict the government's access to information. Additional reporting by Susie Ochs. This story, "Bill Gates backs the U.S. government in Apple's iPhone privacy standoff" was originally published by PCWorld.
The crashsafari.com URL overloads the browser, forcing an iPhone or iPad to heat up and restart. Apple users: Beware of a sneaky link that will crash Safari. As The Guardian reports, those who click on crashsafari.com will, not surprisingly, crash their browser. Apple iPhones will then heat up and reboot thanks to "an ever-increasing string of characters" bogging down a phone's memory. The link also crashes Safari on iPad and Mac. It could also slow down Chrome on Android, Mac, and PC, the paper said, as well as Firefox. Shutting down the competing browsers and rebooting iOS devices, however, appears to fix the problem. It's probably not smart to click on a URL called crashsafari.co, but tricksters could hide the address via a link-shortening program, so be on the lookout. The prank site even has its own Twitter handle: "What better way to prank someone than crash their device," the @crashsafari bio says. According to IT security company F-Secure, one of the shortened "Crash Safari" links was already clicked more than 100,000 times as of Monday. Apple did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment. The URL comes eight months after Apple killed a Messages bug that crashed an iDevice with a few choice symbols. Its main purpose, as reported at the time, was to reboot the phone and, in some cases, block a person from using the built-in Messages app. Editor's Note: This story was updated on Jan. 27 to correct the crashsafari.co URL.
AT&T customers with the new Apple iPhone 6S and 6S Plus, as well as last year's iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, can now make calls over Wi-Fi. by Lynn La @lynnlaaa / October 8, 201512:25 PM PDT
Italian luxury fashion brand Furla has stopped using Samsung smartphones as part of its mobility strategy, opting instead to provide staff with Apple iPhones because they offer a "much higher" degree of security. That is what Alberto Camerlengo, COO of Furla, told Computing during an interview at the Cegid Connections conference in Berlin, Germany. The move to iPhones sees staff mobile devices use the same Apple operating system as the iPads which will soon be rolled out to all Furla's shops across the globe. "Soon we'll be providing all the stores with an iPad in order to not only collect information but also to provide information to the customer," he said. "Our networking is starting to be designed in this way." "We've just moved from Samsung to Apple for the phone and a lot of the applications are designed in iOS," Camerlengo added, explaining that security was a  key part of the decision. "We would like to marry up the Apple systems because it's much, much better for a company like us. We use a lot of data exchange, so from a security point of view that's much higher," he said. "And from a customer image it's much higher, because it's very fashionable." Google is keen to push its Android operating system as one for enterprise use – the firm launched Android for Work last month – despite claims that the devices are much less secure than their Apple counterparts. However, some firms show a preference for Android devices as an enterprise tool, citing their lower cost as a key factor. "At the enterprise level, I've been unable to make a business case for Apple when you consider the flexibility and the functionality of the Android platform, along with the price of the Android handsets," Combat Stress CIO Richard Burley previously told Computing.
A widespread attack on Apple iOS users in Australia is in progress, with user accounts being hijacked and held for ransom. Apple users across Australia are reporting being victims of a widespread attack in which...

NSA Spying on Apple iPhones

The latest Snowden NSA leaks reveal that the U.S. government has the ability to exploit and surveil iPhones. Apple's iPhone is one of the most popular devices on the planet, and its popularity has made it a target for exploitation by the U.S. National Security Agency. In a presentation at the Chaos Communications Congress in Hamburg, Germany, on Dec. 30, security researcher Jacob Appelbaum discussed multiple exploits in the NSA's catalog of vulnerable devices and systems. Appelbaum's talk complemented a report he helped to author in the German publication Der Spiegel over the weekend.

The report includes new revelations from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden about U.S. surveillance operations and capabilities. The report details the NSA's Tailored Operations Unit (TAO) as well as a listing of vulnerable technologies.

According to the report, a program referred to as "DROPOUTJEEP" is available to NSA agents to surveil Apple iOS users.

The program enables the government to both send files to and receive files from the exploited devices as well as gain access to the devices' contact lists, cameras and microphones. During his presentation, Appelbaum raised the question of how the Apple devices were exploited. "The NSA claims that anytime they target an iOS device, it will succeed," Appelbaum said. "So either they have a huge collection of exploits against Apple products, meaning they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves." Appelbaum added that he's not sure what the answer is and it could just well be that Apple writes buggy software.

Apple's iOS does have a history of security bugs throughout its existence. Apple is publicly denying the accusation that it has directly worked with the NSA. In a statement sent to media outlets, Apple stated that it has never worked with the NSA to create a backdoor in any of its products, including the iPhone. "We have been unaware of this alleged NSA program targeting our products," Apple stated. "We care deeply about our customers' privacy and security. Our team is continuously working to make our products even more secure, and we make it easy for customers to keep their software up to date with the latest advancements. Whenever we hear about attempts to undermine Apple's industry-leading security, we thoroughly investigate and take appropriate steps to protect our customers. We will continue to use our resources to stay ahead of malicious hackers and defend our customers from security attacks, regardless of who's behind them." The DROPOUTJEEP data slide that Appelbaum presented is dated from October 2008. Multiple researchers in the security community have been able to publicly demonstrate exploits against iOS both before and after 2008. At the Black Hat USA 2007 event, security researcher Charlie Miller publicly presented a batch of Apple iPhone vulnerabilities. In 2009, Miller returned to Black Hat USA to demonstrate an exploitable SMS flaw in iOS. Apple's iOS has also repeatedly been exploited by researchers at the Hewlett-Packard sponsored Pwn2own hacking challenge in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013. Concerns about U.S technology vendors working directly to facilitate the NSA spying efforts have had an impact on business.

Apple joined with AOL, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo in an open letter sent to the U.S. Congress on Oct. 31 asking for more transparency into government surveillance. The requests from the tech vendors have not fallen entirely on deaf ears either.

A Presidential Task Force report titled "Liberty and Security in a Changing World" released on Dec. 18 calls for sweeping reform in U.S. intelligence agency operations. Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.
The US National Security Agency (NSA) has acquired the power to tap 3G and 4G smartphones - not only Apple iPhones and Android devices, but also supposedly secure BlackBerrys. The revelation is the latest in a series of leaks orchestrated by whistleblower Edward Snowden and journalist Glenn Greenwald. The news that even BlackBerry devices are vulnerable to security service tapping will be particularly damaging to the company as security is one of BlackBerry's key selling points. The latest NSA leaks were published in German newspaper Der Spiegel as The Guardian newspaper in the UK is rumoured to have been gagged by "D-Notices" issued by the government. "The documents state that it is possible for the NSA to tap most sensitive data held on these smartphones, including contact lists, SMS traffic, notes and location information about where a user has been," claims Der Spiegel. It continues: "The documents also indicate that the NSA has set up specific working groups to deal with each operating system, with the goal of gaining secret access to the data held on the phones." According to Der Spiegel, the documents indicate that, unlike the NSA's web spying apparatus, smartphone tapping has been targeted "in an individually tailored manner and without the knowledge of the smartphone companies". However, in the past the NSA has been limited in its ability to spy on BlackBerry users, with documents from 2009 suggesting that the NSA was unable to access BlackBerry devices. But a 2010 document shows that the company's security was cracked just a year later by technologists working at UK spy agency GCHQ, after BlackBerry changed the way that it compresses data. "The documents also state that the NSA has succeeded in accessing the BlackBerry mail system, which is known to be very secure," claims Der Spiegel.  It is not clear, though, whether the company's latest BlackBerry 10 operating system and BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10 mobile management software have also been compromised.