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Apple issues security patch after Toronto-based Citizen Lab flags vulnerability – CBC.ca

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Apple released an emergency software patch to fix a security vulnerability that researchers said could allow hackers to directly infect Apple devices without any user action.

The researchers at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab said the flaw allowed spyware from the world’s most infamous hacker-for-hire firm, NSO Group, to directly infect the iPhone of a Saudi activist.

The flaw affected all Apple’s operating systems, the researchers said.

It was the first time a so-called “zero-click” exploit had been caught and analyzed, said the researchers, who found the malicious code on Tuesday and immediately alerted Apple. They said they had high confidence the Israeli company NSO Group was behind the attack, adding that the targeted activist asked to remain anonymous.

“We’re not necessarily attributing this attack to the Saudi government,” said researcher Bill Marczak.

Toronto-based Citizen Lab first identified the security flaw earlier this month and flagged it to Apple. (Anand Ram/CBC)

‘Maliciously crafted’

Although Citizen Lab previously found evidence of zero-click exploits being used to hack into the phones of al-Jazeera journalists and other targets, “this is the first one where the exploit has been captured so we can find out how it works,” said Marczak.

Security experts say that average iPhone, iPad and Mac user generally need not worry because such attacks are highly targeted, however, the discovery still alarmed security professionals.

Malicious image files were transmitted to the activist’s phone via the iMessage instant-messaging app before it was hacked with NSO’s Pegasus spyware, which opens a phone to eavesdropping and remote data theft, Marczak said. It was discovered during a second examination of the phone, which forensics showed had been infected in March. He said the malicious file causes devices to crash.

NSO Group did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

In a blog post, Apple said it was issuing a security update for iPhones and iPads because a “maliciously crafted” PDF file could lead to them being hacked. It said it was aware that the issue may have been exploited and cited Citizen Lab. Apple didn’t immediately respond to questions regarding whether this was the first time it had patched a zero-click.

Citizen Lab called the iMessage exploit FORCEDENTRY and said it was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices.

Messaging apps easy targets

Researcher John Scott-Railton said the news highlights the importance of securing popular messaging apps against such attacks. “Chat apps are increasingly becoming a major way that nation-states and mercenary hackers are gaining access to phones,” he said. “And it’s why it’s so important that companies focus on making sure that they are as locked down as possible.”

The researchers said it also exposes — again — that NSO’s business model involves selling spyware to governments that will abuse it, not just to law enforcement officials chasing cyber criminals and terrorists, as NSO claims.

“If Pegasus was only being used against criminals and terrorists, we never would have found this stuff,” said Marczak.

Security experts say that average iPhone, iPad and Mac user generally needs not worry about a hack as such attacks are usually highly targeted. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)

Facebook’s WhatsApp was also allegedly targeted by an NSO zero-click exploit In October 2019, Facebook sued NSO in U.S. federal court for allegedly targeting some 1,400 users of the encrypted messaging service with spyware.

In July, a global media consortium published a damning report on how clients of NSO Group have been spying for years on journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents — and people close to them, with the hacker-for-hire group directly involved in the targeting.

Amnesty International said it confirmed 37 successful Pegasus infections based on a leaked targeting list whose origin was not disclosed.

One involved the fiancee of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, just four days after he was killed in the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul in 2018. The CIA attributed the murder to the Saudi government.

The recent revelations also prompted calls for an investigation into whether Hungary’s right-wing government used Pegasus to secretly monitor critical journalists, lawyers and business figures. India’s parliament also erupted in protests as opposition lawmakers accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government of using NSO Groups’ product to spy on political opponents and others.

France is also trying to get to the bottom of allegations that President Emmanuel Macron and members of his government may have been targeted in 2019 by an unidentified Moroccan security service using Pegasus. Morocco, a key French ally, denied those reports and is taking legal action to counter allegations implicating the North African kingdom in the spyware scandal.

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EU Commission proposes removing chargers from all smartphone boxes – GSMArena.com news – GSMArena.com

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In a new press release by the European Commission, legislation is being put forth by the European Commission to standardize the charging plug across all consumer devices. It also plans to “harmonize” a fast-charging standard and “unbundle the sale of chargers from the sale of electronic devices”. This proposal will apply to “smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers, and handheld videogame consoles.”

The Commission officially proposes four things:

  • A harmonized charging port for electronic devices: USB-C will be the common port.
  • Harmonized fast-charging technology: will help prevent different producers unjustifiably limit the charging speed and will help ensure that charging speed is the same when using any compatible charger for a device.
  • Unbundling the sale of a charger from the sale of the electronic device: the Commission says that EU consumers already have an average of three chargers and will only use two.
  • Improved information for consumers: OEMs will need to provide information about charging speeds and whether the device supports fast charging.

According to the EU Commission, European consumers spend €2.4 billion annually on standalone chargers not included with devices. Also, an estimated 11,000 tonnes of e-waste are made up of disposed/unused chargers every year. The EU Commission hopes that the proposed legislation could potentially save consumers €250 million per year on unnecessary charger purchases.

Fast-charging standardization is an interesting one. Many Chinese phone makers all use different fast-charging standards to compete with each other, but most will support some form of USB-C Power Delivery fast-charging. So OEMs would need to provide fast-charging information so that they are informed about what charging speeds they may expect from the charger they already have at home.


iPhone 12 Pro with included Lightning to USB-C cable

The proposed legislation will affect Apple the most. They’d need to make the switch from Lightning to USB-C. It’s been rumored for years that Apple would make this switch, and even though Apple’s MacBook and iPad have already switched to USB-C, its two most popular product lines: the iPhone and AirPods, continue to use the Lightning cable. This would hurt Apple’s sales of chargers and cables, so Apple isn’t giving in without a fight.

Even so, the proposed legislation still needs to be approved by the ordinary legislative procedure (co-decision): It needs to be adopted by the EU Parliament and Council. Once (and if) the legislation is approved, a transition period of 24-months will be given to OEMs to transition to the new EU laws.

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Some iPhone 13 Pro animations affected by an issue that will be fixed – The Verge

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Apple’s iPhone 13 lineup launched Friday, and one of the key features of the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max are their ProMotion displays with variable refresh rates that can top out at 120Hz. But as spotted by 9to5Mac, some app animations in third-party apps are currently only running at 60Hz. That might be frustrating if you were expecting to see buttery-smooth animations across all of your apps with the new phones, but when we asked Apple what was going on, the company shared two reasons why this might be happening.

One reason is that developers will need to update their apps to declare that they use the higher refresh rate. This can be done by adding an entry to the app’s plist, Apple tells The Verge, and the company says it plans to share documentation about the entry you need to add soon. But in some cases, animations built with the company’s Core Animation technology are also affected by an issue that will be fixed in an upcoming software update, Apple says.

Variable refresh rate screens offer a lot of benefits, including smoother animations and scrolling when you’re using the device and battery savings the screen runs at lower refresh rates. We were impressed with the screens on the 13 Pro and 13 Pro Max in our review, and it’s good to hear that third party apps will be able to take full advantage of what they have to offer — though some may have to wait until after that software update.

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Today’s Homes Need a Professional Electrician’s Touch

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Credit: Ed Harvey via Pexels

Modern technology can be jaw-dropping at times, but it must be installed correctly and safely. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to show off one of the latest gadgets, only to see that it doesn’t work!

Professional electricians have the experience and knowledge necessary to ensure that the wiring tucked out of view works as it should, so what is visible performs the way it’s expected to. Let’s check out the different services electricians provide for your home.

Safely, Efficiently Wire Smart Homes

The idea of a Smart Home where people can control a room’s temperature from their phone did not exist when many homes were built. Whether your home is from a previous generation or you’re building a new one from scratch, professional electricians can ensure the wiring will safely and sufficiently power all your devices if you want Smart appliances in it.

The electrical requirements are not the same in a house designed to power the lights versus one that can charge a car in the garage. Even though some aspects of a Smart Home can be self-installed, if you’re confident enough, most laypeople don’t know how to install it optimally.

If you have multiple smart devices, it’s better to have them streamlined, so they can talk to each other and be interconnected. You want your speakers, thermostat, locks, and more to work effortlessly, and professional electricians make it easy.

If you’re going to be charging an electric vehicle at home, ensure your EV Charger is hardwired to the electrical panel. A certified, licensed, and insured electrician needs to confirm the installation meets certification requirements.

If you need an electrician in Pickering or anywhere in the Durham region to wire your home for modern technology, look for a family-owned business that can get the job done quickly and with excellent customer service. Family-owned businesses specialize in customer satisfaction.

Safety Matters Above All

It’s hard for laypeople to identify faulty or dangerous wiring when they see it, and it’s hard to see behind those walls. Professional electricians have the equipment to measure the rate at which electricity is conducted, so they can safely install your home’s lighting.

Whether you’re moving into an old home that may have outdated systems or building a brand-new house, hiring a professional electrician to inspect and install the wiring is essential. Confirm first whether they’re an apprentice, journeyman, or a master electrician, and double-check that the business is bonded, licensed, and insured.

The safety of you, your family, and your home may be at risk unless a professional electrician has inspected your home’s wiring and deemed it safe. You can’t get this peace of mind any other way.

A home ought to have lights that turn on brightly and safely, but it’s common to expect a lot more from our gadgets, given today’s incredible consumer technology. Make sure you have a professional electrician inspect and wire the home, so you can feel confident that everything will work smoothly and safely.

 

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