Requires physical access, but works on OS X, Windows, Linux
A new USB microcontroller -- roughly the size of a small thumb drive -- has been demonstrated as a proof-of-concept device that leverages a serious and unfixable vulnerability in USB easily take over and install malware on any unlocked computer. Though it requires physical access or tricking the user into inserting the controller into a USB port, the device has worrying implications for any computer left unattended for more than a minute -- the time it takes for the device to gain admin access, change network settings, install a backdoor and remove any obvious sign of intrusion.
Review still under way, sparked by rape allegations and regulatory resistance
In response to the concerns of customers, legal troubles and bans in multiple markets around the world, rideshare/taxi service Uber has begun a study into ways to better screen drivers and improve overall safety. Phillip Cardenas, Uber's head of global safety, outlined the company's plans in a recent blog post today. Cardenas comes from Airbnb where he spearheaded the creation of that company's safety program.
Managing privileged operations on Linux servers key for protecting e-commerce servers
In a blog post today, AlertLogic Chief Security Evangelist Stephen Coty outlined ways to identify and protect against a Linux server exploit he has dubbed "Grinch." Citing a 2013 report from W3Tech stating that approximately 65 percent of all web servers utilize a Unix or Linux-based operating system, he said that the danger is that Grinch can be used to "steal Christmas." At the crux of this exploit is a way to access administrative permissions through JournalID, which could allow remote execution of commands on any Linux-based server.
Insecure URLs from Delta revealed boarding passes from other airlines, other passengers
Dani Grant, the founder of the security research group Hackers of NY, has reported a serious flaw in the way that Delta and potentially other airlines handle online boarding passes, often displayed on smartphone screens to gain entry to flights. Grand discovered that if she shared the URL to her Delta online boarding pass, anybody could download and potentially redeem it. Even more disturbingly, when she changed with the last digit of the seemingly random numbers in the URL, she could view someone else's online boarding pass, which might even be on an entirely different airline.
Christmas comes early as white hats totally pwn script-kiddie newbs
Since August, a hacker group calling itself the Lizard Squad -- self-described as a handful of 'guys with too much free time on their hands' -- have been entertaining themselves by spoiling other people's fun. Primarily, they've been doing this by attacking online video game services and knocking them offline. An opposing "white hat" group of network security researchers have now exposed members of the Lizard Squad group, leading to the arrest of three members, some of whom had also been involved in bomb threats and other domestic terrorism.
Un-jailbroken iOS devices safe from attack; Android, Windows smartphones at most risk
Beginning in Russia and spreading quickly to other countries, a new variation on the formerly-dormant Red October malware has been detected by security firms such as Blue Coat and Kaspersky this week. The new version -- which is notably targeting smartphones of diplomats, military leaders and business executives -- contains a level of sophistication in the function and code that suggests a rogue state, which would have the resources to assemble the talent, is backing the attack.
Employs DDoS attacks, enlists Amazon Web Services to block distribution
In a surprising twist to the ongoing saga of an attack on Sony Pictures' internal computer system by unidentified hackers (likely to be from North Korea), the studio is starting to fight back by leveraging Amazon Web Services to carry out distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on identified servers that contain files stolen from Sony over the last month. Taking a page from its own playbook, the media conglomerate is flooding suspect servers with dummy files, a sequel of sorts to anti-piracy attacks carried out by the firm in conjunction with Media Defender seven years ago.
Sophisticated malware used forged enterprise provisioning to enter iOS through OS X
Apple's iOS, when un-jailbroken, is so resistant to malware that three Chinese suspects had to come up with an exceedingly clever method of delivering the "WireLurker" threat to the company's mobile devices. On Monday, Chinese officials announced they had arrested the three suspects, and shut down the servers hosting the malware. The threat was never widespread because of the elaborate nature of the scheme and its China-only focus, but it was one of the few malwares able to get onto un-jailbroken iOS devices.
Supports all recent iOS devices
Pangu's iOS 8.x/8.1 jailbreak tool has been successfully ported to the Mac, its creators have announced. As with the original Windows edition of the jailbreak, it supports all iOS 8-capable devices, including even the iPhone 6, 6 Plus, iPad Air 2, and iPad mini 3. The Pangu team cautions that people should backup a device before beginning, and also restore if they've downloaded any over-the-air firmware updates.
Simple website indexing bot suggest Apple increasing its bypassing of search engines
Can affect non-jailbroken iOS devices; currently distributed through unofficial Chinese store
A new malware threat to iOS has been discovered that can invade the normally well-protected mobile system through a flaw in OS X and USB that allows packages to be installed through enterprise provisioning. Called "WireLurker," the malicious OS X application (once installed) will monitor for new iOS package installs, and then exploits a weakness in USB to install malware into the target iOS device. Once it is installed, the iOS malware tries to harvest personal data like contacts.
Tool begins to reach masses
The Pangu iOS 8.1 jailbreak tool is now being bundled with Cydia, and will get an English translation within 24 hours, its developers say. Cydia is commonly used to simplify jailbreaking, partly by offering an easy way to install unapproved apps. When the Pangu code was released earlier this month, it was only in Chinese and in a rudimentary form intended for developers.
Supports Macs going back to 2008
A new user-created tool enables OS X Yosemite's Continuity function on Macs that are officially unsupported. Dubbed the Continuity Activation Tool, it checks for strict hardware compatibility -- namely the presence of Bluetooth 4.0 -- and disables an Apple blacklist that shuts off Continuity on some Mac models. It also whitelists Mac board-ids inside Yosemite's Wi-Fi code. Before making any changes, the tool creates system driver backups.
Driver changes fake FTDI chip settings, renders it unusable
A recent Windows Update is causing trouble for people working with Arduino microcontrollers and other similar projects, by making some hardware inoperable. A driver update for FTDI chips as part of the Windows Update is apparently damaging the software on some USB-to-serial components, with counterfeit chips suddenly becoming inoperable.
Lack of antenna for NFC radio hobbles unit for Apple Pay retail buying
A new teardown of the iPad Air 2 has confirmed much of what was speculated about the device, but has also revealed some minor surprises. The team at iFixit have rated the new iPad a "two" on a scale of 10, with 10 being the most repairable. The company says that while the new "fused" display is better visually, and sturdier when opening up the iPad, it will also increase the cost of repair for a cracked screen. The teardown also revealed that the latest full-size iPad features a smaller battery and more RAM.
Said to support latest iPhones, iPads
The Pangu jailbreak team has developed a new hack for iOS 8 and 8.1 devices, reports and the team's website note. The initial release is said to be intended strictly for app developers, since it doesn't install Cydia or other services designed to make jailbreaking simple and practical. The public version is in fact waiting on those services being brought up to speed for iOS 8.
Search engine has scrubbed 'tens of thousands' of links to stolen photos
Google has responded to the letter threatening legal action should Google not purge the Internet of stolen, and sometimes intimate, photos of celebrities. The search engine has denied that it is intentionally profiting on the scandal, and instead has acted quickly and appropriately to takedown requests by removing "tens of thousands" of images from Google search results.
Crowd funding effort 33 percent over target, tablet will be made
The Modbook Pro X tablet modification Kickstarter has blown past its goals. Earlier this week, the project passed its $150,000 milestone, with 36 people having contributed to receive a full conversion from the company. Notably, none of the donors chose to send in an existing computer, with all contributors receiving the tablet choosing for Modbook to source the entire project.
POSReady updates rolled into single service pack, release client being worked on
Windows XP hold outs might be able to put off upgrading to a new version of Windows for the time being, as long as they don't mind patching the operating system through unofficial channels. While support for the operating system was officially dropped by Microsoft on April 8, a new service pack has been released by a community project that's keeping the aging operating system alive.
Enterprise Signing Key, Activation Lock keys could have been compromised
An unidentified Twitter user is claiming that recent changes to Gatekeeper in OS X Mavericks and OS X Yosemite which has forced developers to re-sign their app credentials is actually the result of a security breach that successfully pilfered the Gatekeeper keys and possibly "many other keys for many other things," according to the user. A corraborating source was located by TUAW that has allegedly confirmed the breach and tied it to the recent alleged Activation Lock hack.
Report is very questionable, claims product will be called '6L'
Taiwanese Apple blog Apple Daily has published pictures of three components it claims are parts from the oft-discussed but little-seen 5.5-inch version of the "iPhone 6." The photos show what are said to be the display, logic board and battery of the device, but at least two of the three parts are identical to the claimed 4.7-inch iPhone, casting doubt on the entire report. The battery, however, may be a genuinely new part, and is said to be nearly double in capacity compared to the current iPhone 5s battery.
Company aims to fight ruling, calls decision 'not progressive'
Berlin, Germany has banned the Uber unlicensed cab service from city limits, citing concerns for passenger safety and the unregulated nature of the drivers for the service. The firm itself is liable for a fine of $33,000 per fare, with drivers themselves seeking riders likely to be hit with a $26,500 charge by authorities as well.
Third iteration of modified Apple tablet heads to Kickstarter
Last week, we launched the Crowdfunding Critic here on MacNN and Electronista, and promised that every Tuesday and Thursday we'd highlight a new campaign. While we were working on yesterday's selection, we got wind of this -- the Modbook Pro X, by Modbook, Inc., a modification of Apple's 15.4-inch MacBook Pro into a massive pen-enabled tablet. Based on it, we decided to do our second article in the series a day late, but we think this one is worth the wait.
Gmail for iOS now leverages Google Drive directly for archiving and attachments
Google has updated its Gmail for iOS (free) to allow users to leverage the company's Google Drive in two new ways: users can now save attachments in emails directly to Google Drive, and users can now access Google Drive directly from within the Gmail app to add attachments to outgoing messages. The update to version 3.14159 (yes, pi) also gives users more options with account management, such as deciding which of their Gmail account is seen without removing other accounts, and changing the Gmail profile pic.
Fixes boot loops
The team responsible for the Pangu jailbreak has released its first version in English, also the first to support OS X. The tool offers untethered breaks of iOS 7.1.x devices, but last week was released exclusively in Chinese and for Windows. It also gave people an option to install 25PP, an unofficial Chinese app store. For English-speaking users, 25PP installation is disabled by default. The update also solves a problem with iOS devices getting stuck in boot loops.
Public parking spot resale service claims legitimacy, will continue to operate
Startup public parking spot sale app Monkey Parking has vowed to fight the cease-and-desist served onto it earlier this week. The company is claiming that the order is a misinterpretation and invalid use of San Francisco police code, and believes that the model of selling a parking spot that a driver is about to depart is protected by free speech rights.
Security researchers find September vulnerability attack to Germany
According to Dell's security researchers, a single piece of software, surrepitiously installed on some Synology network attached storage devices, has mined $620,000 of virtual currency Dogecoin. A combination of a vulnerability discovered in September and users not updating the system software of the appliances enabled the hack to occur, which installed the mining package, forcing the devices to run hot and transfer data slowly due to the load from the miner.
Streamlines several tasks
Cydia, the app distribution platform for jailbroken iOS devices, has been updated to v1.1.10. The software has been given improved handling of sources and packages, namely by relocating functions that were previously buried within three different sections in the Manage tab. That tab has in fact been renamed Installed, and only contains what was in Manage's "Packages" section, along with a quick User/Expert/Recent selector at the top.
Based on 'beautiful kernel bug,' vulnerability may be difficult to quickly fix
Not one but two well-known hack researchers have now posted evidence of working jailbreaks for iOS 7.1.1, which until now had closed the existing loopholes used by other techniques such as evasi0n. While interest in and use of jailbreaks has waned as Apple has gotten better at closing vulnerabilities, enthusiasts and die-hard customizers continue to want the ability to use unofficial apps or tweak settings in the latest iOS releases.
Embattled studio shift to mobile so far failing to gain traction
In conjunction with Zynga's quarterly results, new CEO Don Mattrick revealed that founder Mark Pincus is stepping down as chief product officer at the embattled game producer. Mattrick also announced that Alex Garden, ex-general manager of Xbox Live, has been hired as president of Zynga Studios.
Nested folders still not officially supported in iOS
A bug in iOS 7.1 lets people place folders within folders, or even hide icons, users note. To pull off the folder trick, a person has to first completely fill an iOS homescreen with apps -- including both the regular grid and the dock, which in the case of an iPad can fit up to six apps. A user must then create a new folder by dragging one app on top of another. As the folder animation starts, though, a person has to quickly drag the folder they want nested into the new one.
Current technique limited by processor
A hacker going by the alias "winocm" has demonstrated what appears to be the first untethered jailbreak of iOS 7.1. The hack currently works only with the iPhone 4 however, since it's the only iOS 7-capable device with an A4 processor. winocm and well-known jailbreaker iH8sn0w are said to be working on a jailbreak for A5-based devices, like the iPhone 4S, iPad 2, and first-generation iPad mini. That could mean it will be some time before modern A7-based devices are cracked.
Discovery casts doubts on loss claims, accounting standards
The recently-shuttered and allegedly bankrupted Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange has now said it has "found" nearly a quarter of the total "stolen" Bitcoins stored in a "wallet" -- the term for a digital file used to store the virtual currency -- that the company was no longer using. The 200,000 coins found represent some $115 million of the $470 million (in current trade value) lost by customers when the exchange closed down.
Vulnerability shut down, but fooled visitors into providing info
Late Wednesday afternoon, Electronic Arts reported that it had finally closed a serious vulnerability on its web servers that allowed hackers to host a fake "Apple ID" page -- part of a phishing scam that attempted to trick users into visiting the fake page and supplying personal information and credit card details that Electronista reported on earlier today. Netcraft, which originally spotted the compromised pages, reported the problem to EA on Tuesday night.
Says OS X is 'very safe' overall
At this week's Pwn2Own hacking contest, a group calling itself the Chinese Keen Team successfully used two vulnerabilities to run arbitrary code through Safari, according to ThreatPost. The exploit is reported to have been executed via a flaw in Safari's WebKit engine and a bypass of the sandboxing in recent versions of OS X. One member of Keen, Liang Chen, comments however that OS X is "regarded as very safe and has a very good security architecture," and that what vulnerabilities there are are "very difficult to exploit."
Ironically patches loopholes that allowed Evasi0n jailbreak to work
In a backhanded compliment, the security notes accompanying today's release of iOS 7.1 thank the jailbreaking hacker team known as Evad3rs -- known for their jailbreaking software, Evasi0n -- for finding several security flaws, which iOS 7.1 patches. Ironically, these discoveries are also what made the Evasi0n jailbreaking software work, and thus iOS 7.1 "breaks" the software and un-jailbreaks any iOS devices using Evasi0n.
Google services like Gmail and Google Now added to phone in five steps
A member of the XDA-developers forum who won a Nokia X at the Mobile World Congress has managed to hack and gain root access to the phone in order to bring Google applications and services to the device. The Nokia X, known for using the bare-bones free version of Android at its core, had opted to pull in Microsoft services to intentionally avoid Google's integration.
Role unspecified, but had reverse-engineered iOS, OS X for porting
A well-known hacker of OS X and iOS, who single-handedly rewrote the core of both operating systems to allow them to be ported to other devices and contributed to various jailbreak apps for iPhones, has announced that he will be joining Apple as an intern or employee later this year. The coder, known as "winocm," is 17 years old but already an expert reverse-engineer who says he has been doing "insane things" with the cores of iOS and OS X.
Use of security tokens allows Snapchat denial of service attack
Snapchat, the picture based messaging platform, appears to have more problems on its hands after its recent account breach. It has been discovered that the program can be used in denial-of-service attacks against iOS and Android based phones to disable or crash the devices through sending thousands of messages to the device in a matter of seconds.
Exploit blocked in iOS 7.1
A newly-discovered hack lets people disable Find My iPhone without first entering a password. Shown in a YouTube video (below), the exploit requires only making a few simple changes to a device's iCloud account. It's confirmed to work on iPhones and iPads running iOS 7.0.4, although it appears to be blocked in iOS 7.1, which is still in beta.
Continues minor interface tweaks
(Updated with evasi0n hack break, samples of new voices) Apple is now seeding a fifth beta of iOS 7.1 to developers. Changes appear relatively minor, but release notes mention "new natural-sounding Siri voices" for Japanese, the UK and Australian English dialects, and Mandarin Chinese. Apple also appears to be continuing visual tweaks to the OS, for instance by adding new Shift and Caps Lock buttons (below).
Will fight Bromwich appointment, 'roving' investigation, excessive fees and qualifications
Apple has officially filed for an appeal of US District Judge Denise Cote's recent decision, which denied both Apple's request to suspend an antitrust external compliance monitor (ECM) while an appeal of the main judgement is considered, and a request to disqualify the current appointee, Judge Cote's personal friend and former DOJ Inspector General Michael Bromwich.
Group has made dubious boasts before, claims probably untrue
[Update: the group has closed its Twitter account, saying it has "suspended operations" indefinitely] A hacker "group" that has previously made dubious claims of playing a role in attacks such as the recent Dropbox outage has now claimed it hacked into Apple's "user database" and posted a printout of some outdated user information on Pastebin as "proof." The group previously claimed to have hacked into Dropbox's database, but then changed its story and said that it was responsible for a "denial of service" attack that caused the outage (Dropbox have denied both claims).
Custom graphics card not upgradable, PCIe storage still in doubt
A teardown of the new Mac Pro by upgrade experts Other World Computing will give cause for much celebration among DIY technophiles (who are, ironically, unlikely to be customers of the new workstation) -- the retailer says both the RAM and, more surprisingly, the central CPU unit of the Mac Pro are removable, paving the way to future upgrades. Its also possible that the proprietary connector used for the PCIe-based storage may be upgradable as well.
Taig now hosting unofficial version of jailbreak
Evad3rs -- the team behind the evasi0n jailbreak for iOS 7 -- has issued a second open letter, admitting that it "dropped the ball" on investigating whether Taig's app store contained pirated content. The evad3rs team recently acknowledged benefiting financially from its work. Around the same time the team severed ties, pulling Taig's store from evasi0n completely. In the new letter, evad3rs states that "after investigation and after notification from the community," it found examples of piracy such as "pirated tweaks, Apple App Store apps, and even pod2g's PodDJ app."
Does better in some areas, but can't compete on cost or specs
For many consumers, a quad-core i7 "Haswell" computer with SSD storage -- whether it is a Mac or PC -- is by far the fastest computer they've ever used, and meets everyday needs handily. Some, however -- creative professionals, scientists and others -- need all the power they can get and then some. The rapid sellout of the new Mac Pro -- surprising even Apple -- may revolve around the fact that its new design is a tough combination to beat, even for DIY PC builders.
Unofficial app store's pirated content creates firestorm
Chinese company Taig paid evad3rs $1 million to include its third-party app store for Chinese users of the evasi0n jailbreak for iOS 7, rumors claim. The store appeared only for Chinese users of the jailbreak, in place of the distribution platform offered elsewhere, Cydia; it has since been removed as an option. Taig's offering has been controversial, since it hosts a number of apps pirated from Apple's official App Store.
Sentence derided as 'vengeful, spiteful act'
Hacker Jeremy Hammond has been dealt a 10-year prison sentence for his role in the 2011 theft of emails and credit card data from intelligence company Strategic Forecasting (Stratfor). The sentence was handed down in a federal court in Manhattan, where the 28-year-old pleaded guilty to violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA).
Classic programs re-created in HTML5 for web play
In unrelated developments, two recent "recreations" of former Mac and Nintendo classics have made their way into "web app" versions, bringing back familiar software for those of a certain age, providing a "living" demonstration of "old-school" programs and games and at the same time offering a showcase for the growing flexibility of web technologies. The year-old "CloudPaint," a tribute to the Macintosh's original graphics program MacPaint, has recently been updated with five levels of "undo" -- and another site offers a fully-playable HTML5 version of Super Mario. Both are available for use free of charge.
Airplane Mode, lack of warnings identified as soft spots
A new SRLabs video demonstrates one possible method of getting around both Touch ID and Activation Lock on a stolen iPhone 5s. The video points out that while Apple lets users locate and/or remotely wipe a device using the Find My iPhone app, a 5s can be set to Airplane Mode without unlocking if lockscreen access to Control Center is left enabled. Since Find My iPhone can only perform a wipe if a device is connected to the Internet, that may give a thief enough time to lift and mold a fingerprint to bypass TouchID, and begin hijacking Apple, Google, and other online accounts.