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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

Tech

Virgin Media outage leaves UK viewers in the dark

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A major outage has left Virgin Media customers across the UK unable to use their television services

Virgin Media has confirmed a mass outage has left UK viewers unable to watch their television services, following a nationwide error.

The company confirmed the outage lasted around ten hours, which was understood to be triggered by a network power failure.

The issue began at about 10:30 GMT prompting thousands of viewers to report problems.

The firm told customers its engineers were trying to fix the problem, which hit cities across the UK, including London, Birmingham and Manchester.

Virgin issues apology for outage

Virgin Media apologised, and said it would fix it “as soon as possible”.

The issue had been caused by “a major power outage”, the firm said.

The website Downdetector which tracks outages received more than 18,000 reports of problems at one point.

Many users tweeted their annoyance at the loss of service, and the way in which Virgin Media communicated: “Can you update please? No TV. Your status page down. No info on phone lines,” wrote one customer.

The company said it had identified the fault and its engineers were working “flat-out” to fix the issue.

At 13:45 GMT Virgin Media stated: “We have now restored several channels with customers able to watch BBC One, BBC Two, ITV, ITV+1 and Channel 4. TV360 customers are also able to access apps on their box,” the firm wrote.

Customers however have taken to social media, slamming the company for the duration of the error – calling for refunds.

Virgin Media responded to those requests, advising customers to fill out an online compensation form.

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Tech

Meta to launch Uber ride-booking via WhatsApp in India

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One of the world’s biggest ride sharing services is partnering up with it the parent company of Facebook to change the way we book our journey

Ride-sharing giant Uber wants to make booking a ride in India as easy as sending a message via WhatsApp.

The US-based company has partnered up with Meta, the recently rebranded parent company of Facebook, to launch a ride booking feature in its WhatsApp service within India.

The integration is set to become the first of its kind for the ride-hailing giant and will allow people to book an Uber ride without having to download the official Uber app.

Everything from user registration and ride-booking to getting a trip receipt will be managed within the WhatsApp chat interface.

The service is being rolled out first in the northern city of Lucknow, and will be expanded to other Indian cities soon according an official statement.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for all Indians to take an Uber trip, and to do that we need to meet them on platforms they are comfortable with,”

said Nandini Maheshwari, senior director of business development for Uber APAC, in the statement.

India is the biggest market for WhatsApp with nearly half a billion users.

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Crypto

Is Twitter Changing its Name?

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Just days after Jack Dorsey resigned for the second time as CEO of Twitter, his other company, Square, is getting a name change

The parent company of Cash App and Tidal will now go under the new corporate name of “Block”.

Other individual businesses owned by Block, referred to by the company as “building blocks”, will keep their original names except for the company’s Square Crypto initiative.

Square Crypto, whilst keeping it’s ticker name of SQ on the stock exchange, will be renamed as Spiral.

These name changes follow Dorsey’s well known interest in cryptocurrency, with the business having $220 million in bitcoin in its treasury according to the Wall Street Journal.

This contributes to Dorsey, who Forbes estimates to be worth $10.8 billion, as being one of the most influential cryptocurrency advocates worldwide.

Square’s name change comes just over a month after Mark Zuckerberg rebranded Facebook group to Meta.

Square’s business involves payment systems such as banking products for retailers as well as those small square card readers you see at some vendors.

The company’s name change is therefore is simply the introduction of a new corporate name to “tie” the company’s building blocks together.

There will be no organisational change as a result of the name change which is expected to go legally into effect around December 10th..

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