Tag Archives: iPhone

One more thing …

This is normally the phrase when every serious fanboy gets very excited at Apple’s Keynote. What Jonathan Zdziarski – a forensic scientist – recently summarised in his talk “Identifying Back Doors, Attack Points, and Surveillance Mechanisms in iOS Devices” at the Hope X conference is the other one more thing that any Apple addict should be (made) aware of and that probably might cause a quite different sense of excitement. In short his summary reads like this:

  • Apple is dishing out a lot of data behind our backs.
  • —It’s a violation of the customer’s trust and privacy to bypass backup encryption.
  • There is no valid excuse to leak personal data or allow packet sniffing without the user’s knowledge and permission.
  • Much of this data simply should never come off the phone, even during a backup.
  • Apple has added many conveniences for enterprises that make tasty attack points for .gov and criminals.
  • Overall, the otherwise great security of iOS has been compromised… by Apple… by design.

Beside a detailed analysis and various objective attempts to understand the intentions behind the non-advertised functionality that is available on any iOS device, he also has a proposal on what questions to bring to your next appointment at the Genius Bar:

  • Why is there a packet sniffer running on 600 million personal iOS devices instead of moved to the developer mount?
  • Why are there undocumented services that bypass user backup encryption that dump mass amounts of personal data from the phone?
  • Why is most of my user data still not encrypted with the PIN or passphrase, enabling the invasion of my personal privacy by YOU?
  • Why is there still no mechanism to review the devices my iPhone is paired with, so I can delete ones that don’t belong?

The slides of his talk are based on his journal paper in the International Journal of Digital Forensics and Incident Response.

Sharp tongues may now tend to imagine Apple representatives sitting together with government people. As soon as the negotiations about regulations relaxation, tax incentives, and grants get stuck, a fruitseller might raise her/his voice: “Actually … there is one more thing.” Probably this is just an insane, hysteric delusion within the context of some recent disclosures.

But what if these methods are exploited by criminals, especially those whose original mission never was to protect us?

Update (2014/07/31): Quite interesting to note that although Apple normally ignores any criticism consistently, they catched up quickly on this one via a knowledge base article: iOS: About diagnostic capabilities. Zdziarski published a detailed reply on his blog just some hours later: Apple Confirms “Backdoors”; Downplays Their Severity.

The untold story of planned obsolescence

Did you know that the lifetime of light bulbs once used to last for more than 2500 hours and was reduced – on purpose – to just 1000 hours? Did you know that nylon stockings once used to be that stable that you could even use them as tow rope for cars and its quality was reduced just to make sure that you will soon need a new one? Did you know that you might have a tiny little chip inside your printer that was just placed there so that your device will “break” after a predefined number of printed pages thereby assuring that you buy a new one? Did you know that Apple originally did not intend to offer any battery exchange service for their iPods/iPhones/iPads just to enable you to continuously contribute to the growth of this corporation?

This strategy was maybe first thought through already in the 19th century and later on for example motivated by Bernhard London in 1932 in his paper “Ending the Depression Through Planned Obsolescence”. The intentional design and manufacturing of products with a limited lifespan to assure repeated purchases is denoted as “planned/programmed obsolescence” and we are all or at least most of us upright and thoroughly participating in this doubtful endeavor. Or did you not recently think about buying a new mobile phone / computer / car / clothes / … because your old one unexpectedly died or just because of this very cool new feature that you oh so badly need?

The Light Bulb Conspiracy
"The Light Bulb Conspiracy" by Cosima Dannoritzer

A really well done documentary that provides a comprehensive overview about and a detailed insight into this topic recently aired on Arte and other European television networks. It is entitled “The Light Bulb Conspiracy – The untold story of planned obsolescence” (aka “Pyramids of Waste”, DE: “Kaufen für die Müllhalde”, FR: “Prêt à jeter”, ES: “Comprar, tirar, comprar”) and is a French/Spanish production directed by Cosima Dannoritzer. Recordings of the movie have been uploaded to various video portals, for example currently available on YouTube in EN/International with Norwegian subtitles, DE, FR and ES. Just the official TV and Internet broadcasts were viewed by over 2,500,000 people.

If you like to follow up on some of the documentary’s content, here are the links: The light bulb at the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department can be watched here via web cam. Wikipedia has some more information on the Phoebus cartel in EN and DE. The referenced clip about the tremendous waste of ink by inkjet printers can be found at Atomic Shrimp: “The Dirty Little Secret Of Inkjet Printers”. The software to reset the page counter of various Epson printers can be found here: SSC Service Utility for Epson Stylus Printers. The people that made “iPod’s Dirty Secret” are the Neistat Brothers. The tough guy from Ghana that collects evidences at the dumping grounds to identify the orignators of electric waste is Mike Anane and he also contributed to the report “Poisoning the poor – Electronic waste in Ghana” issued by Greenpeace.

That planned obsolescence may be needed or even is substantial to appease the ever-growing hunger to achieve continuous and distinct economic growth that is natural to nations with advanced economies aka developed (?) countries is one part. The past and present is comprised of numerous advocates and supporters with well-engineered argumentations in favor of this business strategy. But even the ultimate argument gets immediately and indisputably absurd and unreasonable when it comes to the thereby produced waste – the other part of planned obsolescence. “The Light Bulb Conspiracy” quite clearly showed where this leads to and especially where all the resulting waste is dumped.

Let’s keep that in mind while impatiently waiting for the release of the next generation of the iPhone …

Trailer “The Light Bulb Conspiracy”

[written and directed by Cosima Dannoritzer]

KFZ-Kennzeichenscanning – Do it yourself

Das Autonummernschilder nicht nur bei Rasterfahndungen – also auch ohne konkreten Verdacht – im großen Rahmen erfasst und gespeichert werden, ist schon länger bekannt.

iPhone CarIndex-App
iPhone CarIndex-App

In der Schweiz hat nicht nur der Staat, sondern auch jede Privatperson die Möglichkeit, den Fahrzeughalter an Hand des Kennzeichens per Telefon oder SMS-Abfrage zu ermitteln. In Zeiten des iPhones ist es nun auch möglich, dies ganz bequem online über die App “CarIndex” zu machen. Als Ergebnis erhält man abgesehen vom Namen auch die Adresse und Telefonnummer des Eigentümers angezeigt.

Damit sind ganz neue Anwendungsfälle im Straßenverkehr möglich:

  • Statt Hupen oder dem pauschalen A********-Schreien kann man nun andere Verkehrsteilnehmer freundlich per Telefonanruf auf das sicherlich unabsichtliche Missachten der eigenen Vorfahrt hinweisen.
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    Lieferschwierigkeiten iPhone 3GS

    Kaum hat man sich dazu durchgerungen, sich so ein “cool new fast iPhone 3GS” zuzulegen, gibt es Lieferschwierigkeiten …

    Gestern war die Aussage des neuen T-Punktes am ZOB, dass es zwei und mehr Wochen dauern könnte. Pro Woche bekommt diese T-Mobile-Filiale wohl um die 4 iPhones. Zur Zeit gibt es dort etwa 10 Vorbestellungen. Der T-Punkt im Zentrum Münchens (Kaufingerstraße) hat wohl schon über 100 Vorbestellungen. Auf der Homepage von T-Mobile wird von “Lieferzeiten von bis zu vier Wochen” gesprochen, Computerwoche.de berichtet von bis zu sechs Wochen.

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