ITy Bytes 20 April

  • Apple and Qualcomm make-up and Intel moves out;
  • Facebook F’up number one million, five-hundred thousand and …;
  • Apple’s secret iPhone recycling plant opens its doors;
  • Amazon to close Chinese marketplace;
  • It is not just Huawei and ZTE that are forbidden to supply US telco infrastructure;
  • Kaspersky says Game of Thrones may be Game of Threats if you pirate it;
  • Google tightens Play Store security;
  • Hotmail, MSN and Outlook webmail hacked;
  • Samsung responds to reports of foldables breakage;

Apple and Qualcomm make-up and Intel moves out

Apple and Qualcomm have been in a highly destructive legal battle. Suddenly, they are friends again after an undisclosed sum of money changes hands (Apple paid Qualcomm). It also incorporates a six-year patent license so Apple can once again use Qualcomm technology.

Intel had stepped in to supply Qualcomm alternatives like its 4G modem and was due to supply a 5G modem. Its 5G modem business would not have been huge. Intel largely was developing the XMM 8160 modem at Apple’s behest.

Now Qualcomm is back – Intel is out! It may mean Apple will have a 5G iPhone in its series 11 later this year as the Chinese market is demanding it.

Apple is also testing a smaller 5.42-inch smartphone codenamed XE. It is basically a shrunken X series with a notch and A12 Bionic chip. It is rumoured to be made in an Indian plan to meet India’s need for a cheaper Apple and use a high percentage of components made there to satisfy the “Made in India’ initiative.

ITy Bytes 20 April

And in other Apple news Credit Suisse has stated that Apple’s iPhone ‘in a difficult spot with units >20% below peak as users are holding on to their devices longer than ever (four years) and price hikes have likely run their course.’ It sees a further 12.4% drop in volumes this year and issues Apple with a neural share rating.

Facebook F’up number one million, five-hundred thousand and …

Facebook has admitted that it has ‘unintentionally uploaded’ the email contacts of 1.5 million new Facebook users since May 2016.

It happened because Facebook required users email passwords to verify their identities. That opened contacts and all it contained to it. As people use contacts for all manner of ‘secure’ storage like passwords etc., Facebook now has that.

What is worse is that there was no request to import contacts and n warning – it just happened.

The email password verification ‘feature’ has now been disabled. Facebook says it will advise the 1.5 million affected new users and delete their uploaded contacts.

#deleteFacebook and never store confidential data in your contacts. Use a password manager.

ITy Bytes 20 April

Apple secret iPhone recycling plant opens its doors

There is a really interesting article on Apple’s secret prototype recycling facility in Texas and its development of Daisy the Deathbot that can disassemble any iPhone from 5-XS at 200 per hour. Of course, it can only handle a minute fraction of the more than 1 billion iPhones in the wild.

Of the 9 million iPhones Apple received back last year 7.8 million were refurbished and resold, and 1.2 million went to Daisy. Read more at CNET.

Long-time Apple nemesis, iFixit’s Kyle Wiens and super advocate for the right to repair movement calls it Daisy the Deathbot. He is sceptical, “One challenge is Apple’s secretive culture. The company holds so many things close to the vest, from its plans for the next iPhones to the repair manuals to fix them to the technology behind Daisy. That makes it hard for us to determine what’s real and what’s just marketing.”

Well said, Kyle.   

ITy Bytes 20 April

Amazon to close its Chinese marketplace

Despite being in the Chinese market since 2004, the name Amazon lacks the commercial awareness to make inroads against Alibaba and other Chinese online marketplaces that have about 82% of the market.

Analysts said that Amazon has failed to capture the Chinese loyalty and cannot compete with local players on price. It will close its local data centre and warehouses and wind up its Prime membership program that has not gained significant membership.

We bet Gerry Harvey is drinking champagne at this news and hopes Amazon’s foray into Australia will end in such an ignominious and inglorious way. There is a growing anti-Amazon movement in Australia where its shopping penetration is less than 10% compared to eBay at 63%, and Google Assistant speakers outsell Amazon Alexa by a three-to-one margin.

ITy Bytes 20 April

It is not just Huawei and ZTE that are forbidden to supply US telco infrastructure

In case you have not heard Chinese companies Huawei and ZTE are unable to supply telco infrastructure to the US amid fears of Chinese spying.

Well, it appears that all Chinese companies are part of a broader net where telecommunications are concerned.

According to Reuters China Mobile is seeking approval to provide services for phone calls between the United States and other countries. It is not seeking approval to provide ‘wireless’ (3/4/5G) services to US consumers.

According to the FCC, China Mobile USA, which filed the application, is indirectly and ultimately owned and controlled by the Chinese government.

“It is clear that China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks,” Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission Ajit Pai said.

FCC officials said if successful China Mobile would be able to exploit the US, “telephone network to increase intelligence collection against US government agencies and other sensitive targets that depend on this network.

FCC added, “There is a significant risk that the Chinese government would use the grant of authority to China Mobile USA to conduct activities that would seriously jeopardise the national security and law enforcement interests of the United States.”

ITy Bytes 20 April

Kaspersky says Game of Thrones may be Game of Threats if you pirate it

A new Kaspersky study shows that many torrent (pirate) sites serve video content infected with malware. It detected 33 threat types and 505 different families hiding behind the Game of Thrones.

Malware files disguised as TV show episodes hit an average of 2.23 users in 2018. The top three most popular threat categories were:

  • Trojan – 30%
  • Not-a-virus:Downloader – 21%
  • Not-a-virus:AdWare – 28%.
  • Worms – 8%

The ‘not-a-virus’ type of threats may interfere with users’ sessions causing unwanted actions. AdWare, for instance, can show unsolicited ads, alter search results and collect user data to deliver targeted, contextual advertising.

Also, most Pirate sites will try to use the PC for cryptocurrency mining during downloads.

ITy Bytes 20 April

Google tightens Play Store security

No matter how much Google does to secure Android (and it’s doing lots), it is a constant battle against the bad guys to keep malicious apps out of Google Play.

Now as part of Google’s Project Strobe—a “root-and-branch” review of third-party developers access to Google account and Android device data and of its idea around apps’ data access it has automatically banned any app that requires access to SMS, call logs, contact and phone.

These must be human-curated and there is an appeal process in place for legitimate apps that takes days, not weeks.

Google has updated its Account Permissions system that asks for each requested permission individually rather than all at once, giving users more control over what type of account data they choose to share with each app.

It is also kicking out developers that in violation of its policies and says that in 99% of cases the suspension decision is correct.

ITy Bytes 20 April

Image courtesy of ESET

Hotmail, MSN and Outlook webmail hacked

First, this is not Outlook 365 or Exchange Server mail but webmail-based services like Outlook.com, msn.com or Hotmail.com. Second, it appears that the attack used a support employee’s credentials. Third, it only happened to a small (unknown) number of users and Microsoft should have notified them.

Between 1 January and 28 March, cybercriminals penetrated some of its webmail services gaining access to email addresses, subject lines and email addresses.

“We have identified that a Microsoft support agent’s credentials were compromised, enabling individuals outside Microsoft to access information within your Microsoft email account. Microsoft immediately disabled the compromised credentials, prohibiting their use for any further unauthorised access.”

The potential exposure does not include the content and attachments of emails. Nor have login credentials been revealed, although users should change their passwords, said Microsoft.

And add two-factor authentication to be doubly sure says GadgetGuy.

ITy Bytes 20 April

Samsung to probe reports of foldables breakage

Select reviewers have said that Samsung’s new US$2000+ foldable screen is prone to breaking down the middle. Before you say, the sky is falling, some have removed the factory fitted screen protector that is integral to the screen.

Samsung has responded – you can read the full statement here.

“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter.

“Separately, a few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen. The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure customers are aware of this.”

Samsung says the commercial release date will be announced in coming weeks.

GadgetGuy’s take: So far we have seen folds in, folds out and folds up. Foldables are coming and this time is when prototypes are tested and broken. If manufacturer’s honour warranties (and in Australia the tough consumer laws) then all is well. Nothing to see here folks – move along.

ITy Bytes 20 April

Image https://twitter.com/stevekovach/status/1118571414934753280