Apple is reportedly upholding its pledge to make every effort to access the iPhone 6 of a teen who was lost at sea, but whatever data they find is now going to the courts rather than the family, ABC News reports. Blu Stephanos contacted Apple for help accessing his son Austin’s phone after it was discovered aboard the 14-year-old’s ship, but Pam Cohen, mother of the other teen who went missing during the voyage, took the issue to court, fighting to have the phone handed over to experts instead.
In a new front in the ongoing fight over iPhone encryption, federal officials in Los Angeles obtained a warrant allowing them to force a woman to unlock an iPhone by holding her fingerprint to the Touch ID scanner, the Los Angeles Times reports. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld decisions allowing police to access phone data with a search warrant and law enforcement’s right to compel a person in custody to provide a fingerprint without a judge’s permission, but legal experts worry that the combined use of these two abilities to unlock a personal device could violate a person’s Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Schematics claiming to be of Apple’s upcoming iPhone 7 “Pro” have appeared in Japanese magazine Mac Fan, according to a new report by Mac Otakara. The leaked specs support many of rumoured details about the upcoming device, including the reports of a dual-camera system, body design similar to the iPhone 6s Plus, and elimination of the headphone jack. The MacFan report claims the new iPhone will actually measure in at 158.22mm tall by 77.94mm wide by 7.3mm thick — identical to the dimensions of the current iPhone 6s Plus.
A tweet from Nintendo America is teasing the release of more Nintendo games for the iOS platform, specifically mentioning Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing — versions of two existing Nintendo franchises.
A year ago, Nintendo announced that it would be moving into the mobile space, promising the release of one title this year — the company’s Miitomo social app — followed by four more games by March 2017. Mobile versions of Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing presumably account for two of these promised four apps, but details are scarce beyond the company’s tweet; it’s unclear whether these will be new mobile games that are loosely related to their respective franchises or full-fledged ports of the Nintendo Wii and DS counterparts.
India’s Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has mandated that all mobile phones include a “panic button” to be sold in the country as of January 1, 2017. On cheaper phones that will entail holding the “5” or “9” key to call emergency services, but the order’s wording for smartphones is a bit more convoluted, requiring the “facility of emergency call button by pressing the same for long time to invoke emergency call or the use of existing power on or off button, when short pressed thrice in quick succession.”
After its launch in retail stores last year, Apple has finally made its iPhone Upgrade Program available to those buying their iPhone online. After clicking the “Buy” option for an iPhone 6s or 6s Plus, the first screen of the checkout process includes the option to enroll in the program for $32.41 per month for a 16GB 6s or $36.58 per month with the 16GB 6s Plus. The price goes up as the storage options increase.
The father of a teen who was lost at sea said Apple is attempting to reactivate his son’s iPhone in the hopes of learning more about his fate, ABC News reports. The phone was found aboard the boat that Austin Stephanos and Perry Cohen, both 14, were on when they went missing. Blu Stephanos said, “We’ve been working with the phone’s manufacturer who seems willing to help us try to get the phone operational again. That would be the first order of business, since Austin’s phone has been submerged in salt water for over eight months.”
The Department of Justice has dropped its appeal of a decision that prevented the government from forcing Apple to unlock a convicted drug dealer’s iPhone, Bloomberg reports. The DOJ had pledged to fight on after a judge ruled the government’s use of the All Writs Act to compel Apple’s assistance was illegal, but dropped the case after obtaining the passcode to access the device from a third-party. That leaves a 50-page ruling supporting Apple’s view in the encryption dispute as the final word on the matter, and while that decision isn’t binding in other cases, it could still influence future court battles.
The FBI appears to have paid more than $1.3 million for the technique used to break into the iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino terrorist, Reuters reports. When asked how much the purchase cost the agency, FBI director James Comey said, “More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months for sure.” Using figures from the FBI and U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Reuters determined Comey will make more than $1.34 million in that time, if he receives no raises or bonuses — so it will likely be a bit more than that, if you’re considering typical annual government pay adjustments. Comey said the purchase was “worth it” while speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in London. The FBI will be able to use the technique on other iPhone 5c models running iOS 9, though the agency already announced that no useful information was found on the San Bernardino iPhone.
Apple has released the second developer betas for iOS 9.3.2 and watchOS 2.2.1. As with the prior beta, the sparse release notes and minor version numbers suggest that the betas are primarily focused on bug fixes and performance improvements and do not likely include any new user-facing features. The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.
The FBI has told CNN that it found no useful information on San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, but said the lack of information actually provided some answers. At issue was an 18-minute gap during which authorities couldn’t account for the actions of Farook and his wife. The iPhone hack eliminated the possibility that the couple used the phone to engage in communication with a third party, allowing the FBI to rule out contact with other ISIS supporters.
In the latest report from KGI Securities, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo doubles down on his earlier prediction that Apple will move to an all-glass body for its 2017 iPhone. The report said Apple is moving to adopt the all-glass body to keep the iPhone looking modern, ahead of competitors who are beginning to adopt its current aluminum design. The new iPhones are expected to feature OLED screens, a claim bolstered by the Korean Herald’s report last week that Apple has reached a $2.59 billion deal that would see Samsung produce 100 million OLED displays for iPhones over the next three years. [via 9to5Mac]
Following yesterday’s news that the FBI bought information from independent hackers to assist it with unlocking the San Bernardino iPhone, a new report from Reuters reveals that the company the FBI acquired the procedures from retains sole legal ownership of the method, although it is unclear whether this “company” represents the “independent hackers” referred to in the earlier report. Either way, Obama administration sources have indicated that this makes it “highly unlikely” that the government will be able to disclose the technique. Technology security flaws are ordinarily reviewed by the White House to determine which should be made public, as part of a procedure known as the Vulnerabilities Equities Process — but sources note that the FBI would not even be permitted to submit the method to the White House for consideration without the permission of the private company that owns the technique. Rob Knake, a former White House staffer who was previously responsible for managing the process, noted that the FBI likely doesn’t even know the details of the technique other than that it successfully unlocked the iPhone in question, and added that the Vulnerabilities Equities Process had been created in 2010 to handle situations where government employees invent their own methods for circumventing security. The process was not designed for “a world of commoditized exploitation” by private companies, and that the government cannot “force companies to share the methods that they are trying to sell,” nor can they be prevented from buying technology from those companies.
A new Washington Post story claims a group of independent hackers sold the FBI information that helped crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, contradicting earlier reports that Israeli tech firm Cellebrite was the company behind the hack. People familiar with the matter said a group of researchers who specialize in hunting for vulnerabilities in software sold knowledge of a previously unknown iOS flaw to the FBI for a one-time flat fee. The information was used to create a new piece of hardware that allowed the FBI repeatedly guess the iPhone’s four-digit PIN without triggering the security feature that erases all the data on the phone.
Dozens of users have taken to Apple’s customer support page to complain about problems with call quality when using their iPhone SE over Bluetooth. Those pairing their device with car Bluetooth systems are reporting scratchy and distorted audio when using their phone to make calls. Some also reported poor audio quality when using their phones for GPS navigation in the car, and one user said his Jawbone Bluetooth headset experienced similar audio problems when connected to the iPhone SE. The phone audio quality is fine when not paired to Bluetooth, and the connectivity issue doesn’t seem to affect music streaming over Bluetooth.
While still not publicly confirming that it was the firm that helped the FBI crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, Cellebrite has offered to help a father gain access to his deceased son’s iPhone 6, CNN reports. Leonardo Fabbretti said his 13-year-old son Dama had given him Touch ID fingerprint access to the phone before his death from bone cancer, but that the phone now required his son’s passcode to unlock after a restart. Fabbretti asked Apple for help unlocking the phone, but was told the company couldn’t access the device without his son’s passcode. After hearing the story, Cellebrite reached out to Fabbretti, and on Friday a forensic analyst delivered a promising update during a meeting in northern Italy. “They were able to download the directories with the iPhone’s content, but there is still work to be done in order to access the files,” Fabbretti said.
A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals that Apple’s history in working with the FBI goes back as far as 2008, when the company reportedly not only assisted the FBI in accessing the data on a locked iPhone, but actually had its lawyers assist in drafting the court order to do so. While the government reportedly had no means of compelling Apple to cooperate back then — other than the All Writs act used in the more current case — Apple basically voluntarily offered its assistance on the basis of the government providing the necessary paperwork. The case in question was a horrific child molestation case where the FBI needed evidence from the perpetrator’s iPhone, which was taken to Apple’s headquarters in California by a New York State Police investigator. There, the iPhone passcode was bypassed while the investigator watched. The case contrasts sharply with Apple’s more recent standoff with the FBI, but it’s also important to consider that 2008 model iPhone models did not encrypt data at all, nor provide any of the other advanced security features now commonplace on modern iPhone models, making for significantly different technical and ethical considerations.
FBI Director James Comey has revealed that the FBI purchased “a tool” from a private party to crack the San Bernardino iPhone, according to a report from CNN Money. Specifically, in formally announcing that litigation between the government and Apple has ended, Comey stated that “the government has purchased, from a private party, a way to get into that phone, 5C, running iOS 9.” Comey also added that he knows “a fair amount” about the people that the FBI purchased the tool from, that he has a “high degree of confidence that they are very good at protecting it,” and that the private party’s motivations align with those of the FBI. He also revealed that the tool purchased by the FBI only works on a “narrow slice of phones” that does not include the iPhone 5s or later models, possibly due to Apple’s new Touch ID and Secure Enclave architecture on those devices. The FBI Director also noted that the government has not yet decided whether to reveal the details of the hack to Apple, as he assumes Apple will fix the vulnerability if it is revealed to them, and the FBI will be “back where we started from.”
Apple has released a new round of developer betas for iOS, watchOS, and tvOS. The release notes for the new versions are relatively sparse, and the very minor version numbers — 9.3.2, 2.2.1, and 9.2.1, respectively — would suggest that these are primarily maintenance releases and do not likely include any new features worth noting. The new betas are available to registered developers from Apple’s Developer Site; those developers who installed the necessary beta configuration profiles for the prior beta cycle should also automatically see the new betas appear as an over-the-air update.
A newly discovered security flaw in the iPhone 6s and 6s Plus allows users to bypass the lock screen and gain access to contacts and photos. The exploit only works on 3D Touch-equipped phones set to allow Siri access to Twitter, Contacts and Photos, but if all of those variables are in place, gaining access to a user’s photos is relatively easy.
If a Twitter search run through Siri yields a tweet that contains an email address, a 3D Touch gesture can then be used to call up the contextual menu with options to send mail to the address or add it to contacts. Choosing to add the address to contacts allows access to the phone’s existing contact list, and using the contact list’s option to add photos to a contact, the user can browse the phone’s photos without ever entering a passcode. To guard against the potential intrusion, users need only disable Siri’s Twitter integration under Settings > Twitter. [via Apple Insider]
Update: Apple has tweaked Siri to stop the personal assistant from allowing access to Twitter searches from a locked iPhone. A spokesman confirmed to the Washington Post that the company pushed out a fix to make Siri force users to unlock their phone before delivering Twitter search results. The update was handled on Apple’s on servers, so it won’t require any action from users.