ITy Bytes 16 May are regular new updates on things you need to know.
In this edition
- WhatsApp hacked;
- Apple has to face a potentially crippling App Store monopoly lawsuit;
- Apple may be a casualty of the US-China Trade Wars;
- Epson Australia joins Energy Efficiency Council;
- Lenovo folds on its PC;
- Microsoft pioneers blockchain to enable decentralised ID (DID);
ITY Bytes 16 May
The Financial Times reports that a WhatsApp hack allows cybercriminals to place spyware on both iOS and Android smartphones. The attack vector has been closed in the latest version today.
Digital attackers can use the vulnerability to insert malicious code and steal data from an iPhone or Android by placing a WhatsApp call, even if the victim did not pick up the call. Sloppy software from a sloppy company!
The FT cited a spyware dealer as saying the tool was developed by a shadowy Israel-based firm called the NSO Group, a company that licenses its software to governments for ‘fighting crime and terror’. WhatsApp (Facebook) would not comment on how many of its 1.5 billion users have been affected.
This really places a very dark cloud over WhatsApp’s so-called end-to-end encryption and security. All hackers had to do was access the phone’s OS to read or hear inwards and outwards messages in plain text.
Apple has to face App Store monopoly lawsuit
The case Apple v. Pepper claims that by requiring iOS users to buy apps through its App Store and charging developers a 30% commission, Apple is adding a mandatory fee that developers must pass on to customers. Under US law (and Australian Consumer Law) the company you buy things from and make payments to is the supplier.
Verge says if Apple loses this case, it will have to repay anyone who was ‘overcharged’ since the App Store started in 2007 – that percentage amount will be another bun fight over whether its 30% commission is a fair price for operating the curated App Store. No one is arguing that a curated and hopefully malware free App store is good. It is just that it is a monopoly – there is no other curated store!
Google’s app store is not a monopoly as it allows Android apps to be loaded without rooting (Apple equivalent is Jail Break). Whatever the outcome this is going to take years to get a decision and action.
Apple may be a casualty of the US-China Trade Wars
The Guardian has reported that the Apple iPhones – all made in China will face a 25% tariff when imported into the US adding US$160 to its $999 iPhone XS. Apples share price took another hit as well valuing the company at 868 billion although not as low as the massive January slump.
On top of the tariff issues, Apple has been having a torrid time with iPhone sales. It was down 19% in the US in Q1, 2019 and a spectacular 25% drop in the Chinese market in Q3/4 2018 despite heavy discounting there.
Apple’s supply chain for iOS and macOS products is 100% Chinese. Its only alternative is a long, costly and logistically difficult move from China to other non-tariff nations and changes its componentry 100%. The most likely move is to India, but that has logistical issues, transport cost issues and India is considering tariffs for non-Indian produced components as well.
Unlike Samsung that plants in Vietnam, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Korea and has closed one of its China plants and looking closely at the other.
Other US-China trade impacts
Australia is insulated as it has an Australia/China Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) covering most Chinese imports. So, prices of Chinese goods here should be unaffected. The US-China Trade War may affect global GDP, slowing the global economy, and share markets. The real issue, however, is that the trade war is not over and US/China could reach an accommodation that could impact us.