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Apple users beware! Critical flaw could see your device hacked

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The major tech platform is urging all of their users to update their software immediately following new research.

Apple users warned to update device software

Apple says a critical vulnerability has been detected that enables Israeli spyware company NSO Group to take control over any Apple device, whether that be computer, watch or phone.

It comes as researchers at The Citizen Lab made the discovery on Monday.

“While analyzing the phone of a Saudi activist infected with NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we discovered a zero-day zero-click exploit against iMessage,” researchers said.

“The exploit, which we call FORCEDENTRY, targets Apple’s image rendering library, and was effective against Apple iOS, MacOS and WatchOS devices.”

The malicious software hacks devices after sending a message through iMessage.

They then start controlling devices through a flaw in Apple’s image processing systems.

An attack on users without warning

But what researchers find most alarming is that devices are hacked without the user knowing as they don’t have to click on a link or download a file to grant the hacker permission to take over.

“The user sees crickets while their iPhone is silently exploited,” Researcher John Scott-Railton says.

“Someone sends you a GIF that isn’t, and then you’re in trouble. That’s it. You don’t see a thing.”

While all users are being urged to update their software, government groups are likely to be a key-target as they use NSO group’s software.

A breach of trust?

The spyware company creates surveillance and hacking software that governments often rent to investigate the computer and smartphone activity of criminals.

Usually, this is done lawfully with NSO saying it can’t be used to target the devices of American citizens.

However, prior research has found this is not always the case, with reports suggesting their Pegasus software has been used against Mexican journalists and Saudi Arabia protestors.

Despite this, NSO reassures its users that it will continue to supply their services to help prevent criminal behaviour online.

“NSO Group will continue to provide intelligence and law enforcement agencies around the world with life saving technologies to fight terror and crime,” an NSO spokesperson said.

No comments are yet to be made on the discovery of Apple’s critical vulnerability.

Here’s what users should do next

Meanwhile, Ivan Krstić, Apple’s head of Security Engineering and Architecture, says he is grateful to Citizen Lab for alerting the company on the exploit.

“Attacks like the ones described are highly sophisticated, cost millions of dollars to develop, often have a short shelf life, and are used to target specific individuals.”

Ivan Krstić said in a statement

For those who are concerned, Citizen Lab researchers urge users to stay alert and to monitor their phone activity.

Additionally, paying attention to software updates and installing them will also help with preventing future bug issues that could lead to devices being hacked.

“[Software updates] will prevent you from being infected with this exploit going forward,” Researcher John Scott-Railton says.

“But what we know is NSO is always trying to find other ways to infect people’s phones, and they may turn to something else.”

Written by Rebecca Borg

Business

EU plans to force USB-C chargers for all phones

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EU plans to make USB-C connectors the standard port for all smartphones and tablets, angering Apple

The European Commission rules to force manufacturers to create a universal charging solution for phones and small electronic devices. The European Commission is aiming to have a common charging port for all mobile phones, tablets, cameras, headphones, and handheld videogame consoles.

The ruling has been in the making for a decade, with environmental concerns the main driving force behind the historic move.

Reducing waste

The rule will reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device. Politicians have been pushing for this uni9versal charging rule for over a decade.

Disposed and unused charging cables generate approximately 11,000 tonnes of waste per year.  Research shows the average person owns around three mobile phone chargers.

A decade ago there were about 30 different types of chargers, now, phones use either USB-C, lightning, and USB micro-B.

Rotten Apple

The move would see all smartphones in the EU sold with the same charger, a motion Apple is not happy about. The tech giant says this move would damage ongoing innovation.

The tech giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones using a custom charging port, as its iPhone series uses an Apple-made “Lightning” connector. Apple argues its Lightning connector is used by one billion active iPhone users.

“We remain concerned that strict regulation mandating just one type of connector stifles innovation rather than encouraging it, which in turn will harm consumers in Europe and around the world,”

Apple spokesperson

The proposed changes would apply to the charging port on the device body and will also standardise charging speeds. It may be a number of years before the proposals come into effect.

It will be thoroughly debated by the European Parliament and national Governments.

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Tech

Facebook CTO resigns as Zuckerburg announces replacement

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Facebook is about to close an important chapter in its history

In some major news, the social network’s chief technology officer, Mike Schroepfer is stepping down from his role after a total 13 years at the company.

He’ll move to a part-time position as Facebook’s first Senior Fellow at some point in 2022.

CEO Mark Zuckerburg has now appointed hardware lead Andrew Bosworth to be the new CTO.

Schroepfer first joined Facebook in 2008 as a vice president of engineering. He took the CTO position in 2013.

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Business

American plane maker to open major factory in Australia

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Major US-based aircraft maker, Boeing is heading for Australia’s sunshine state

The new Boeing manufacturing facility is planned to be built at Toowoomba’s Wellcamp Airport in an Australian first.

The facility would be involved in manufacturing the Loyal Wingman unmanned aircraft for the Royal Australia Air Force.

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk stated that the Boeing project would bring more than 300 jobs to the area, and was ‘very welcome’

The Queensland Government also confirmed that the interior of the aircraft manufactured at the new site would be painted maroon and stamped with “Made In Queensland”.

The Loyal Wingman is an unmanned aircraft but works alongside crewed aircraft, with Defence currently examining how it will be deployed once it’s put into use.

The new facility isn’t the first to be opened and operated by Boeing, with the plane maker also operating sites across Australia’s east coast, including in major cities; Melbourne and Sydney.

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