iOS 8: Still Not Completely Secure

Kashmir Hill, Forbes:

It may be that the passcode doesn’t wind up protecting people as much as you might think from the headlines around Apple’s big move. Jonathan Zdziarski, a iDevice forensics expert, points out that his forensics software can still pull some data off a locked iPhone and that police could access much more if they seized a machine paired with your iPhone that would grant them access. Meanwhile security technologist Ashkan Soltani says that a majority of users likely use the iCloud to back up their devices, and Apple can hand over information from the iCloud to law enforcement if they have a warrant. “That’s still a huge hole,” says Soltani.

Apple is not in the business of selling your data to advertising companies; Apple is in the business of selling you stuff, like iPhones and Macs. One major concern, thanks to what the NSA and a bunch of hackers have been, are, and will continue doing, is user privacy. The recent phishing attack on celebrity iCloud accounts led to the leak of many private photos not meant to be seen by the public. The NSA has been engaged in a wholesale collection of communications data, which U.S. citizens assumed were private.

Apple wants to make its stuff as secure as possible; it is in the company’s interest to do this. I want my iPhone, iPad, and Mac to be more secure. Not because I have anything to hide, but because I do not want it to be so easy for anyone working at the NSA to access my devices. If I am the target of an investigation and am given a warrant to surrender my data I will freely give access to all of my devices, but until then I would like to keep my data, my communications, safe from the curious eyes of NSA agents. I do not think I am alone in desiring privacy from our government, and so an iPhone that is more secure will sell more than a less secure one. I will give credit where credit is due and Apple deserves credit for what they have done. Unfortunately the celebrity nude photo phishing debacle had to kick Apple in the butt for the company to add two-step verification to iCloud, but Apple has been working for quite some time to make it difficult for hacking tools to pull private data off iOS devices. iOS 8 encrypts data using your passcode. That means without your passcode the data stored in your iPhone is safe, in general. Unfortunately, forensics expert Zdziarski was able to pull data from a passcode-locked iPhone:

While your photos and messages might indeed now be encrypted with a key derived from your PIN, the pairing records stored on your desktop have a “backup copy” of your keybag keys (the escrow bag), which can be used to unlock the encryption on your phone – without a PIN. Again, this was added so that iTunes could talk to your phone while it is still locked.

Here is what Zdziarski recommends Apple do: “offer the user the option (via iTunes) to prevent the iPhone from being accessible at all while locked.”

No system is completely secure, but Apple has made phishing for and hacking into private data stored in iOS devices and on iCloud more difficult. Apple has to balance ease of access with secure to access, so I realize it is not simply a matter of adding and enabling all sorts of security protocols to iOS, iCloud, and OS X, but I think the company is moving in the right direction. I am coming to terms that only a fool would trust his private data to a company whose modus operandi is to gather as much data about him and sell that data to the highest bidder. I think it wiser to trust a company with little to no such business incentive.

Elmar Mock on Apple Watch

Image source: Berner Zeitung, photographed by Urs Baumann

via John Gruber. Swatch inventor Elmar Mock:

The Apple Watch is by far the most attractive of the smartwatches. I would definitely wear it.


Unfortunately, Switzerland lacks a Steve Jobs who can drag the watch industry into the future. It doesn’t necessarily mean the industry is on the wrong path, but it does mean that it has missed the boat as far as smartwatches are concerned.

Speedboats — Apple, LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, etc. — have left the dock. Some have been innovating outwardly, some have been innovating inside company walls, but all those aforementioned high-tech companies are racing to build smarter watches.

Larry Ellison: Steps Down as CEO of Oracle

Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle:

Larry Ellison, a Silicon Valley pioneer known as one of its most flamboyant and aggressive leaders, stepped down as CEO of Oracle Corp. on Thursday but will remain its executive chairman and chief technology officer, the Redwood City company said.

Google: Encryption Standard on Next Android

Craig Timberg, The Washington Post:

Android has offered optional encryption on some devices since 2011, but security experts say few users have known how to turn on the feature. Now Google is designing the activation procedures for new Android devices so that encryption happens automatically; only somebody who enters a device’s password will be able to see the pictures, videos and communications stored on those smartphones.

How about pictures, videos, and communication stored at Google?

“I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee”

iPhone 6 Plus: Camera Review by Austin Mann


A thousand words…

iOS 8: iPhone 4s

Farhad Manjoo, The New York Times:

What are the costs of upgrading? Performance. Ars Technica installed iOS 8 on the iPhone 4S and the iPad 2, and in both cases it found that apps opened up slightly more slowly under the new OS. It took about 2 seconds instead of 1 to open up Safari on a 4S running iOS 8 rather than 7.

The iPhone 4s was released in October, 2011. That is four years ago, which for a high-tech device such as a smartphone is a very long time. That the latest mobile operating system from Apple works on something that old is remarkable.

Yesterday I updated my iPhone 4s to iOS 8, and yes there is a negative impact to performance. Not surprising. But what is surprising is that my iPhone 4s is more than usable. Even though my iPhone 4s runs a little slower iOS 8 is worth the update, especially because of improved security.

Technics R1 Series


Samsung Galaxy Alpha & Hornettek Vader

The Samsung Galaxy Alpha reminds me of the Hornettek Vader aluminum metal case I reviewed a while back. The corners…

Moto X (2nd Gen, 2014): Review by AnandTech

Joshua Ho, AnandTech:

While AMOLED has traditionally struggled with luminance in situations such as the web browser and light-themed applications, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and S5 LTE-A Broadband have shown that it’s possible to achieve levels of brightness approaching some of the brightest RGB-stripe LCDs. As the brightness of the Lumia 930 is about equal to the new Moto X, I suspect we’re looking at the Galaxy S4/Note 3 generation of panels.

The Moto X (2nd Gen, 2014) posted a max brightness of 242 nits on SpectraCal CalMAN 5. Quite low.

Contrast is still incredible, but I can still see the purple smearing effect that comes from unlit to lit pixels.

Not good.

We see that the display is just a bit too red, and that most of the luminance is coming from red and green.

Display lifetime and battery life were more important than color accuracy.

There’s really not much that the Moto X can accurately display in sRGB as just by pushing the gamut too far, even if there wasn’t saturation compression for some colors, the large gamut will cause distortion of all colors within the gamut triangle.



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