Rob Moore, the CEO of ioSafe, joins me to chat about some of their solutions which should help answer ALL THREE of those questions about your data and how secure it might be!
On the one hand, I think it’s great that Apple will start taking steps to block the use of knock off cheap Lightning connector cables and chargers. There’s a chip built into each cable, communicating with the iPhone or iPad to verify authenticity. This chip can be cracked and cloned, but there are still varying reports of people getting shocked or even killed by knock offs.
Apple has started a trade in program, where customers can bring in knock off chargers and get an official Apple charger for $10. This is a very conscious move on Apple’s part getting ahead of a market which could be damaging their brand, and acknowledging a potential consumer health risk.
However, there’s a part of me which can’t help but point out that Apple’s use of non-standard connectors and cabling is what’s causing this cottage industry of building and selling knock off chargers. Buying the official Lightning connector cable by itself from Apple will set you back $30. Buying an Amazon branded Lightning cable will still run you $14. Total cost to get an official Apple cable and charger is around $50.
Buying a decent MicroUSB cable capable of charging and syncing any Android, Blackberry, or Windows Phone? About $5, or at least usually less than a dollar a foot.
In part it was this kind of situation that the EU was hoping to avoid back in 2010 when they started working towards a universal device connector. Not just to halt the price gouging of every company coming up with proprietary connections, and the e-waste associated with one-off accessories, but also the health and safety issues associated with people trying to find deals. MicroUSB was eventually agreed upon, but Apple decided to continue with a proprietary dock connector. To appease the EU, Apple released a $20 Lightning connector to MicroUSB adapter, which will allow your iPhone to charge off of those aforementioned $5 cables. While within the letter of the law, it certainly violates the spirit of developing a standard.
If you’re using a cheap “alternative” brand charger for your iDevices, I would highly recommend checking out Apples trade in offer. Saving a few bucks is hardly worth a fried iPhone.
So, iPhone 5S was officially released two days ago, and Touch ID has already been bypassed. It must have taken an army of L337 haxxors running server farms to crack the protection right? Well, unfortunately for us fans of biometric security, it would seem that the same low tech methods for bypassing still work, even on Apple’s improved fingerprint sensor.
So, as long as you can gain access to someone’s fingerprint, you know those pesky traces of ourselves we leave after touching just about any surface we come in contact with, even potentially ON the fingerprint reader itself, you can spoof someone’s print well enough to fool Touch ID.
From the Chaos Computer Club (the team responsible for the hack):
“In reality, Apple’s sensor has just a higher resolution compared to the sensors so far. So we only needed to ramp up the resolution of our fake… “
Earlier implementations of optical fingerprint readers could even sometimes be fooled by silly putty, so I had very high hopes that Apple’s implementation would solve this problem. The dream of not having to enter complex alpha-numeric passwords on an unforgiving touchscreen isn’t quite realized yet.
Now the process for spoofing your print still requires a little work, making sure you can take a high resolution picture of the print, printing it out, and transferring it to a glue or latex membrane. You have to judge for yourself if the information on your phone is valuable enough for someone to go through this process to try and obtain it. Also, to be fair to Apple, it does require more work to crack than Google’s “Face Unlock” from the front facing cameras on Android handsets.
Unfortunately this will likely strike a blow to corporate and government use, as while it’s still one of the best implementations of biometric security we’ve seen on a mobile device, it’s still entirely defeat-able.
A video demonstrating the exploit can be seen below.
I might just start doing this for all launch day activities. The folks at AT&T were kind enough to open a store early for me to check out the iPhone launch. I got hands on with the iPhone 5S, and got to see a store in action on one of their busiest days of the year.
I did the whole day on about three-ish hours of sleep, so I might’ve gotten a little goofy… Yes I’m holding a Lumia 1020… This photo of me MIGHT have been taken with an HTC one…
Maybe the final sign that Blackberry might be running out of options, their terrific Messenger app is being ported to iOS and Android. It was one of the few experiences that BB could claim as being superior to other messaging apps on the market. However under the onslaught of Facetimes, Hangouts, Skypes, WhatsApps, and more BBM was getting lost in the shuffle. If BB leaves the hardware market, there’s still a potential future for them as a branded software solutions company. Releasing BBM wide could help them improve mind share with consumers who might have walked away from their phone offerings.
BBM is now available on iOS, but we’re still waiting for the official Android version. There are apparently some security concerns regarding the Android app ecosystem. From the BBM Blog:
Prior to launching BBM for Android, an unreleased version of the BBM for Android app was posted online. The interest and enthusiasm we have seen already – more than 1.1 million active users in the first 8 hours without even launching the official Android app – is incredible. Consequently, this unreleased version caused issues, which we have attempted to address throughout the day.
Our teams continue to work around the clock to bring BBM to Android and iPhone, but only when it’s ready and we know it will live up to your expectations of BBM. We are pausing the global roll-out of BBM for Android and iPhone. Customers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM. The unreleased Android app will be disabled, and customers who downloaded it should visitwww.BBM.com to register for updates on official BBM for Android availability.
As soon as we are able, we will begin a staggered country roll-out of BBM for Android and continue the roll-out of BBM for iPhone. Please follow @BBM on Twitter for the latest updates and go to www.BBM.com to sign-up for updates about BBM for Android and iPhone. These issues have not impacted BBM service for BlackBerry.
Now the question remains, how many of my friends might still be using BBM…
I’ve been staving off writing this for some time now. Even among all the reports of potential buyouts, I kept hoping the company would start to turn itself around, find some momentum. It looks like that wont be happening.
Blackberry is warning investors ahead of their official call on September 27th that revenue will be more than a billion dollars below expectations. Yup. Expectations were hovering around $3 Billion, and BB will be reporting $1.6 Billion. Ouch.
Of course these are analyst predictions, and analysts are notoriously bad at predicting the future, but this will obviously hurt BB’s image (under-producing) more than it’ll hit any market watching “guru”.
Reactions to the news has caused a stock slide of almost 20 percent. Another blow to the company, and now CEO Thorsten Heins is announcing the first measure to be taken will be a round of layoffs to the tune of 4,500 axed jobs. They’ll also be streamlining future handset launches. Instead of the six phones they were planning on introducing over the next year, they’ll be dropping down to four, two high-end and two entry-level.
It’s this combination of expectations and time which is going to put a hurt on upstarts and smaller companies moving forward. Yes, BB once ruled the smartphone landscape, but they didn’t properly focus on the consumer experience. Sure they have great mind-share and brand recognition, but they are also creating a new product line from scratch. New OS. New devices. Customers are wary of “new” right now.
Apple found success in smartphones based on years of consumer trust built on iPods. Android needed about three major revisions before it started gaining traction outside low cost, entry-level gear. HP bailed on Palm before it had a shot when it wasn’t immediately successful out of the gate (they’re currently floundering with half-way attempts at Android, with rumors pointing to a possible Windows Phone in the works). Microsoft is just now starting to be taken seriously in mobile, now that we’re looking at a third generation of Windows Phone hardware about to hit the market.
BB is on that “new” list. The bummer is, BB OS10 is pretty great. It’s a refreshing spin on a mobile UI. Gestures are clean. It looks good. It’s a nice experience. This means almost nothing right now. Customers don’t want “new”, they want an established ecosystem. They want to trust that their devices will get updates and that they’ll see new devices in the future. They want apps, and they want to see cases they’ll never buy at Mall kiosks. Those things only come with time and sales. Those early sales are going to be harder and harder to come by as every player that fails in this market will only reinforce why consumers should only buy something established. Why they shouldn’t take a risk.
Years. Blackberry needs years.
So here’s the deal. If for some reason you find yourself without a car, or need to find a ride in LA, it used to be a somewhat miserable experience. It’s hard to rely on buses, the Metro only has a limited route, and cabs are slow to arrive and expensive.
When ride-sharing services started filtering into the city, it was a refreshing and high tech change of pace. Looking for a nicer “Town Car” service, you could fire up Uber, and for those short trips I might’ve called a cab for in the past, Lyft consistently proved faster and nicer. Especially from those ride-sharing folks who really got into it, offering beverages and snacks.
Of course Taxi companies, being somewhat old school, have to follow myriad rules and regulations that their app based counterparts weren’t subject to. Understandably, this has led to friction as established companies feel this gives newer services an unfair advantage. Plus many have brought up safety issues as things like vehicle maintenance and driver background checks aren’t executed in the same fashion as they might be with cabs and divers.
Well now ride-sharing services will be brought under the regulatory control of the Public Utilities Commission which unanimously voted to allow these services to operate. Creating a new classification, “Transportation Network Services”, now drivers will be required to pass background checks, pass training courses, and carry a minimum $1 million liability insurance policy.
This vote by the state government will probably serve as an end-run around cities and smaller communities which were exploring outright bans on ride-sharing. I’m personally glad to see this move, as we can always use a little more competition, and maybe we’ll see traditional taxi services step up their game too. Hopefully this encourages a little more open-mindedness around alternative forms of transportation all around.
You can always count on Louis C.K. to have a “unique” perspective on modern society. On the Conan O’Brien he takes a couple minutes to skewer smartphone usage. There’s a little NSFW language on this one folks. So maybe watch it on your phone instead of your work computer… It’s what Louis would want you to do…