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China using jailbroken iPhones to spy on Hong Kong protesters

Oct 01, 2014 - 5:11 PM - by sparkyscott21

Protesters in Hong Kong hold their phones high

As thousands of protesters flood the streets of Hong Kong demanding a democratic election, the Chinese government is reportedly using sophisticated malware to spy on not only Android devices, but iOS devices as well.

But don’t worry about China peeking at your Snapchats. There has yet to be a widespread instance of iOS malware in the wild, and this particularly “advanced” trojan still requires a tremendous amount of complicit behavior on the victim’s part.

Originally targeted at Android devices, the phishing attack started spreading through a link shared on WhatsApp saying, “Check out this Android app designed by Code4HK for the coordination of OCCUPY CENTRAL!” Once the app is downloaded, the phone’s contents are sent to remote servers that appear to be controlled by the Chinese government.

Social media outlets like Instagram have been blocked in mainland China since the protests began. Protesters in Hong Kong have turned to messaging apps like FireChat that don’t require an internet connection.
Malware is much more prevalent on Android because it’s easier for the user to run unsigned code at the root level. On iOS, jailbreaking is required to perform similar functions and get past Apple’s restrictions. Only a small minority of iOS users jailbreak to begin with, although the practice is generally more common in Asia than North America.

Lacoon Mobile Security’s findings uncovered a trojan called Xsser used in Hong Kong that specifically targets iOS devices.

The Xsser mRAT is itself significant because while there have been other iOS trojans found previously, this is the first and most advanced, fully operational Chinese iOS trojan found to date. Although it shows initial signs of being a targeted attack on Chinese protesters, the full extent of how Xsser mRAT is being used is anyone’s guess. It can cross borders easily, and is possibly being operated by a Chinese-speaking entity to spy on individuals, foreign companies, or even entire governments.

Exactly how the trojan would get onto a jailbroken iPhone is unclear, because the user has to manually add the trojan’s source repo in Cydia, the jailbreak alternative to the App Store.

Update: Article updated with correction that social media has been blocked in mainland China, not Hong Kong.



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Patent holdings firm WiLAN loses second suit against Apple

Oct 01, 2014 - 5:02 PM - by sparkyscott21

A Southern California court on Wednesday granted Apple a summary judgment absolving the company of infringing two LTE patents asserted by Canadian patent holdings company WiLAN.

As part of the ruling, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California found two patent infringement claims against Apple invalid and therefore not infringed, reports Reuters. WiLAN was first to confirm the decision in a prepared statement.

"WiLAN has been advised that Judge Dana M. Sabraw has issued a ruling today that grants Apple's motion for summary judgment," the company said.

WiLan's case goes back to December 2012, when the so-called "patent troll" leveled charges of infringement against Apple, HTC and Sierra Wireless, Inc. Apple was the lone holdout in the suit after the other two defendants settled.

Founded in 1992 as a developer of wireless technologies, WiLAN morphed into a patent holdings company in 2006 after "realizing the value that its intellectual property brought to industry." After the transformation, the firm used its patent portfolio to launch attacks against various established tech companies.

Apple was targeted in 2007 and again in 2010 over alleged infringement of wireless and Bluetooth technology patents.

Today's ruling comes nearly one year after Apple successfully dodged a WiLAN patent suit in Texas. In that case, a jury found Apple not guilty of infringing on WiLAN's owned cellular wireless technologies after two years of trial proceedings.

According to Reuters, WiLAN's business suffered from the Texas loss. The holdings firm is reviewing today's judgment and notes it has another case against Apple in the same Southern California court in which five LTE patents are being asserted.



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Apple opens iTunes donations for 'City of Hope' cancer charity, moves beyond relief

Oct 01, 2014 - 11:28 AM - by sparkyscott21

For the month of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Apple will be accepting donations through iTunes to go to the City of Hope charity, a research and treatment center for life-threatening diseases.

As noted by TechCrunch, Apple has activated the iTunes donations system, available on iOS, Mac and Windows, to route gifts to City of Hope through October. This is the first time Apple has opened donations beyond natural disaster aid.

City of Hope provides research and treatment for a variety of illnesses, including cancer and diabetes, and is one of 41 comprehensive cancer centers in the U.S. The organization runs a hospital in Duarte, Calif., as well as community clinics in Southern California and is a founding member of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

In the past, Apple has used the iTunes donations system to aid victims of natural disasters like the Typhoon Haiyan in 2012 and Superstorm Sandy that same year. Prior to that, Apple accepted donations for Japan's deadly earthquake and resulting tsunami in 2011, as well as earthquakes that hit Haiti in 2010.

Those interested in giving can visit the dedicated iTunes donations page. Apple is accepting donation of $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 and $200.



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This might be Apple’s most incredible iPhone invention yet

Sep 30, 2014 - 3:00 PM - by sparkyscott21

Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a recent interview that the company is working on products that haven’t been covered in rumors yet, and a patent recently awarded to the company serves as a great reminder. Called Interactive holographic display device, the patent describes ways to show interactive holograms using an advanced touchscreen display on certain devices, a technology that could someday be included in future iPhone, iPad or Mac products.

As noted by Patently Apple, Apple’s invention doesn’t require a special medium such as spinning mirrors, steam or hot air to display 3D holographic images, as other devices do. Instead, Apple uses a complex optical system that would let certain devices project holographic images the user could interact with, supporting multitouch-like gestures.

In order to create the 3D holographic images, an Apple device would be able to direct multiple beams of light through a display to generate an image, while also taking into account the position of the user, who could interact with the holographic images. The solution would also have to sense any object that may interrupt the beams of light, such as a finger or a stylus.

“A lens assembly can be configured to direct the one or more beams, by dynamically changing a deflection angle, to form a holographic image of the object based on a focal length of the lens and a location of an observer,” Apple explains. “Further, one or more optical sensors can be configured to obtain information regarding whether an interactive device interrupts the one or more beams, in order to determine a location of the interactive device (e.g., a user’s finger) with respect to the holographic image, based on the obtained information from the one or more optical sensors.”

The three-dimensional holographic display technology could be used on a variety of devices including mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads, and computers, according to Apple’s patent, although the company doesn’t specifically mention any of its product lines in the document.



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Apple & Colette plan Fashion Week event in Paris, may be Apple Watch-related

Sep 29, 2014 - 12:45 PM - by sparkyscott21

The invitation's circular pattern closely aligns with the "universe"-style user interface on the Apple Watch.

An invitation that appeared Monday morning on the website of famous Parisian concept store Colette suggests that Apple may show off its new smart watch during Fashion Week in Paris at an event set to run between 11:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. local time on Tuesday.

"Colette and Apple invite you to a one day only experience," the invitation reads. It was first discovered by French blog Mac Generation, which also noted the similarity between the invitation's circular pattern and the user interface design of the Apple Watch.

Colette is a famous name in French fashion circles, and its 8,000 square foot concept store on Rue Saint-Honoré is one of Paris's most trendy boutiques. Tuesday's event comes in the middle of the annual ready-to-wear shows in the French capital.

Though it remains unknown whether the event is specifically related to the Apple Watch, it seems likely that that is the case.

In an earlier post on his own website, well-known horological blogger Ariel Adams hinted that Apple could be considering offering the Apple Watch for sale in high-end department stores and boutiques, such as Colette. Apple representatives are said to have told Adams that expanding distribution beyond Apple Stores and existing technology retailers is "an interesting idea."



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