New York Law Enforcement Officials Operate $10 Million Lab Designed to Crack iPhones - MacRumors - Canada News Media
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New York Law Enforcement Officials Operate $10 Million Lab Designed to Crack iPhones – MacRumors



Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. built and oversees a $10 million high-tech forensics lab built expressly for the purpose for cracking iPhones, according to a new profile done by Fast Company.

The lab is equipped with “mind-bending hardware” and a team of technology experts, many of whom are ex-military. The facility itself features a radiofrequency isolation chamber that prevents iPhones being used in investigations from being accessed remotely to keep them from being wiped.

Vance’s team has thousands of iPhones at the facility in various stages of being cracked. There’s a supercomputer that generates 26 million random passcodes per second, a robot that can remove memory chips without using heat, and specialized tools for repairing damaged devices to make them accessible once again.

All of the iPhones are hooked up to computers that are generating passcodes in an effort to get into the iPhones, and sometimes that requires going through tens of thousands of number combinations. Those who work at the facility, including director Steven Moran, also attempt to narrow down possibilities using birthdays, significant dates, and other info that could be used in each specific case for an iPhone passcode.

Proprietary workflow software tracks all of the iPhones at the facility, including their software and their importance, for the purpose of deciding which ‌iPhone‌ to work on and which might be able to be cracked using a newly found third-party solution.

Vance has been a major critic of Apple and has called on the government to introduce anti-encryption legislation to make it easier for law enforcement officials to get into iPhones needed for criminal investigations. According to Vance, 82 percent of smartphones that come into the unit are locked, and his cybercrime lab can crack “about half.”

Apple’s frequent software updates continually make breaking into iPhones harder by making the process more complicated, which can make it close to impossible to breach an ‌iPhone‌ in a timely manner. “The problem with that, particularly from a law enforcement perspective, is, first of all, time matters to us,” said Vance.

Vance believes that it’s “not fair” that Apple and Google can prevent law enforcement officials from accessing smartphones. Vance says that law enforcement is entrusted with a responsibility to “protect the public” but Apple and Google have limited access to information “just because they say so.” Vance is of the opinion that there should be a “balance” between protecting user privacy and getting justice for victims of crimes.

“That’s not their call. And it’s not their call because there’s something bigger here at issue rather than their individual determination of where to balance privacy and public safety. What’s bigger is you’ve got victims and you’ve got a law enforcement community who have strong imperatives that should be recognized and balanced equally with the subject decision-makers by the heads of Apple and Google. Today, I think it’s unbalanced.

Apple’s argument is that it provides ‌iPhone‌ data from iCloud without breaking into the ‌iPhone‌ itself, but Vance says that a serious criminal doesn’t have an ‌iCloud‌ backup. A user can also choose what information is stored remotely, and “in many cases” smartphones do not backup between the time when a crime takes place and an ‌iPhone‌ is shut off.

Law enforcement officials can also obtain device metadata like the time and location of a phone call from SIM cards or phone carriers, but Moran says that’s the difference between being able to read a letter and being limited to just the envelope the letter came in.

“Even if we are lucky enough to get into the cloud or even if we’re lucky enough to get some of the metadata, we’re still missing an awful lot of important information that’s critical to the investigation.”

Vance says that he’s not “whining” about the encryption problem, but his lab is “not the answer” as most of the U.S. can’t afford to do the work that the New York cyber lab does.

Fast Company‘s profile of Vance’s cyber lab comes as Apple is gearing up for another battle with the FBI. Apple has been asked to unlock the iPhones used by Florida shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, and while Apple has provided ‌iCloud‌ data, the company will fight requests to unlock the actual devices.

For more on New York’s High Technology Analysis Unit and facility, make sure to check out Fast Company‘s full profile.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Longtime New West doctor switches to virtual consultations – The Record (New Westminster)



When the snow piled up in New Westminster last week, so did the number of people who lost access to medical attention.

Most medical clinics and doctors’ offices were actually closed during the worst of the snow on Jan. 15, and many residents were unable to get around during the entire week due to snowy and icy conditions.

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“But people’s medical needs don’t just stop,” says Dr. Anita Natarajan, a family physician.

Natarajan is virtual doctor who has now left the world of a “physical practice” – she was a family doctor in New Westminster for 17 years – to use virtual technology to conduct face-to-face video consultations with patients in New West and beyond.

Finding a family doctor continues to be one of the biggest challenges B.C. residents face when it comes to health care. In fact, nearly 800,000 British Columbians are currently without a family doctor.

Natarajan works with Babylon by TELUS Health and the technology is helping people who don’t have a family doctor connect with one.

All you need is a smartphone.

Through Babylon by TELUS Health, B.C. residents can use the AI-powered Symptom Checker, which draws from over 500 million streams of medical knowledge to ask users questions about their symptoms and provides information on courses of action.

If they need to see a doctor, users can then book appointments for face-to-face virtual video calls with locally-licensed physicians like Natarajanright on the app. This consultation is covered by B.C. MSP.

Babylon by TELUS Health also enables users to have prescriptions filled at the pharmacy of their choice and access doctor consultation notes, video consult recordings and referrals for diagnostic tests or specialist appointments, when needed.

If you are having symptoms such as chest pains, a patient still needs to go to the ER, says Natarajan.

“But for pretty much everything else, a patient can use this service.”

Patients can even read the detailed notes Natarajan makes based on the consultation, which she says are written in plain language. Patients can also access a video recording of their consultation, which is a huge bonus when patients want to remember what the doctor has told them.

“We’re basically giving British Columbians another option,” she said.

In a survey of Babylon by TELUS Health users who completed a virtual consultation with a local physician, 88% of respondents said that had they not been able to see a doctor through the Babylon by TELUS Health app, they would have sought another form of medical care (emergency room visit, visit to family doctor, or walk in clinic visit), 94% of agreed that the app was easy to use, and 92% said their main request was resolved by the end of their consultation.

Babylon by TELUS Health can be downloaded for free from the Apple App Store and Google Play. For more information on Babylon and TELUS Health, visit

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Arwings spawned in the vanilla version of The Legend of Zelda



First up, a little backstory for those who don’t know. During the development of The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Nintendo used Arwing models to test the flight patterns of Volvagia, alongside the Z-targeting system. This was left in the game’s code, and discovered a number of years later by modders.

Since then, we’ve seen countless videos of people using cheats and mods to make the Arwings spawn in-game. That’s what makes today’s video that much more impressive. It marks the very first time that someone has gotten the Arwings to spawn in-game without using cheat codes or mods.

This player in particular got the Arwings to spawn via “arbitrary code execution.” This method is used by speedrunners to force the game to load and run the save file name as if it’s game code. The end result in this instance is some attacking Arwings!

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Google Will Re-Assess its New Look Desktop Search Display



Earlier this month, Google rolled out a new display format for its desktop search result listings, which aimed to bring them more into line with mobile search display, and added prominent favicons and URL listings to each result.

But the change has seen significant criticism, with some suggesting that the format makes it much harder for users to distinguish between paid ads and actual, earned results.

The criticism, when viewing examples like the above, seems valid, and research has already suggested that the updated desktop format is leading to more people clicking on ads, supporting this theory.

As reported by Digiday, various ad tech providers have noted changes in desktop ad click-through rates following the update, with CTRs for search ads increasing between 4% and 10.5%. That’s clearly beneficial for Google’s ad business, but it could also diminish trust in the company’s core search product – if people can no longer tell what’s a reputable business, as opposed to one with the deepest pockets, questions around search, and Google’s motivations, could eventually have adverse consequences for the company.

And now, Google has taken note, announcing on Twitter that it will review its updated format.

As per Google:

“Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what’s been on mobile for months. We’ve heard your feedback about the update. We always want to make Search better, so we’re going to experiment with new placements for favicons. Our experimenting will begin today. Over the coming weeks, while we test, some might not see favicons while some might see them in different placements as we look to bring a modern look to desktop.”

The two statements here seem almost contradictory – on one hand, Google acknowledges the noted, and significant, concerns that have been raised, while on the other, it says that early feedback has been positive.

Whether it will lead to Google rolling back the change, we’ll have to wait and see, but definitely there’s a case to be made that Google is intentionally diluting the separation between paid and organic results over time, and confusing users in the process.

In fact, this is only the latest in a long history of Google’s gradual merging of the two elements. Illustrating this, the team from Search Engine Land recently updated their infographic, which illustrates the changes over time.

Google search ads over time

When you see it laid out like this, it’s difficult to argue against the idea that Google is deliberately seeking to reduce the distinction between the two elements. Which, for Google’s ad business, makes sense, but as noted, if consumers lose trust in the transparency of Google’s results, that could lead to further consequences, and potentially, reduced usage.

But then again, it probably won’t. As you can see here, as Google has made similar changes over time, it hasn’t lost out in terms of search traffic, and while this latest change seems more significant, if Google sticks to its guns, it will likely be fine. But then, of course, there could be further regulatory questions around such, and Google could come under scrutiny over misleading results. There are clear, and pressing, reasons why Google would want to revise its approach, but whether that results in a roll-back remains to be seen.

For businesses, if Google does remove favicons from desktop search, that somewhat lessens the emphasis on them – but still, if you don’t have a favicon attached to your website, it’s worth updating your info.

You can read more about how to add a favicon to your web identity here.

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