Tag Archives: security

The Apocalypticon ~ Trump, Russia, hacks, security, duped iPhone owners, bent cops film themselves, food and climate


As usual, the US president trumps most of the other bad news. Someone who tried to hack Trump’s tax returns – pretty amateurishly, as it turns out – might get 5 years in prison. Would-be whistleblowers were rallied by WikiLeaks, while one high-profile Democrat offered a $5 million reward for anyone who legally leaked Trump’s financials. You might wonder why this never went any further, until you realise that co-prize a-hole Julian Assange wanted to be Australian ambassador and asked for Trump Junior’s help. How unpartisan is that? It looks like Russian agents leaked Democrat information to Wikileaks to enhance Trump’s chances, after all.
Meanwhile, Trump’s regime wants to use bigoted AI to ‘extremely vet’ would-be immigrants. An alliance of more than 50 civil liberties groups and more than 50 individual AI experts sent dual letters to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today, calling for the end of a plan to screen immigrants with predictive “extreme vetting” software.
In a new low, Senator Jeff Sessions has had all his under-oath forgetfulness listed by Wired. How’s that for an aid memoir, Jeffy boy? It gets up to no. 47 … but for a glimmer of hopes US judge has ordered Facebook to redact the info of anti-Trump activists sought by the Feds. Without this, the details of some 6000 people who ‘liked’ these pages would have been available to the FBI.

Speaking of Russians and hackers, the personal computer of an NSA worker who took government hacking tools and classified documents home with him was infected with a backdoor trojan, unrelated to these tools, that could have been used by criminal hackers to steal the US government files, according to a new report being released Thursday by Kaspersky Lab in response to recent allegations against the company. The Moscow-based antivirus firm, which has been accused of using its security software to improperly grab NSA hacking tools and classified documents from the NSA worker’s home computer and provide them to the Russian government, says the worker had at least 120 other malicious files on his home computer in addition to the backdoor. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppyThe reason that citizens in the West are subject now to more surveillance than there was in the Soviet Union is that digital technology made it possible, says Richard Stallman. “And the first disaster of digital technology was proprietary software that people would install and run on their own computers, and they wouldn’t know what it was doing. They can’t tell what it’s doing.” Stallman has been fighting this battle since 1983.

Criminals duping iPhone buyers out of their phones — A security report has shed new light on the lucrative business of unlocking and reselling stolen iPhones, a multi-million dollar criminal enterprise spanning the globe. The tools used by shadowy hackers involved in this black market trade were detailed in TrendMicro’s latest research. Criminals have turned to sophisticated methods of infiltration, targeting desperate owners of missing devices with phishing emails gearing toward capturing iCloud credentials. They play on the eagerness of the owner to reclaim their lost phone.
The victims might receive a fraudulent link, for instance, alerting them their iPhone has been located. Since the message is carefully crafted to appear legitimate, using a spoofed email account or SMS message, many owners carelessly follow the instructions they’re given. In doing so, they compromise their own iCloud accounts, granting the phone thieves full access to their device.

LA cops film themselves fitting-up a suspect with cocaine — Newly-released body camera footage from a hit-and-run arrest in April appears to show two LAPD officers planting drugs in a suspect’s wallet, selectively filming only portions of the arrest to implicate the man for drug possession. Hah!

Some goodish news — what would happen if the entire US went vegan Researchers found a 23% increase in the amount of food available – mainly in grains – and a 28% decrease in agricultural greenhouse gas emissions. However, they only found a 2.6% decrease in overall greenhouse gas emissions and found deficiencies in the American diet’s essential nutrients. Still, at least it’s being considered.
And climate-conscious cities have been sharing their experiences. At last week’s COP23 climate conference in Bonn, Germany, Essen’s representative was all ears as officials from other post-industrial cities shared their stories. Speakers included representatives from Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and Beijing’s E-Town (short for Economic-Technological Development Area)—all cities that make up the new Urban Transitions Alliance.

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The Apocalypticon ~ Data, security, storms, bombs … and saving us from climate change


New Zealand’s Neoliberal drift — In New Zealand, neoliberal reforms have widened inequality and undermined the country’s self-image as an egalitarian paradise. So while Bill English keeps crowing about New Zealand’s ‘rock star economy’, why are there more homeless, more beggars, more hungry kids? I agree with the above blog’s assertions. People say you can’t sum up neoloberalism, as it covers many things, but I have made a study of it and feel I can: the basic core of neoliberalism is allowing markets to solve all issues including cultural and social. Which is as patently stupid as it appears at first glance. It also involves ‘othering’ and victimising those who can’t progress competitively and therefore shares similarities with classic Nazism. Remember that? World War Two responsible for 40-50 million deaths? The Holocaust?
Yeah. 

Data — 143 million Americans may have had their Social Security Numbers stolen (along with other sensitive personal information), so security experts are pressing for a fundamental reassessment in how, and why, we identify ourselves. Meanwhile, a Chinese man has been given a nine-month jail sentence for helping people evade government controls on where they can go online.

Security — And Russian election hacking in the US is the story that keeps on growing.  A lot of registered voters in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Arizona didn’t even get to vote on election day last year because their names weren’t in the electronic poll books because, theoretically, Russian hackers had infiltrated the servers of VR Systems, a company that provides the software for polling equipment. However, anonymous sources from the intelligence community told the New York Times that at least two other election software companies were also hacked. And if you’re worried about that pro-Russian shock-gadfly Julian Assange’s Wikileaks site getting hacked, that was a DNS reroute.

Storms — While the massive hurricane Irma is about to hit Florida after laying waste through the Caribbean, Houstonians in Texas were left without shelter and facing the daunting task of rebuilding their lives. The staggering damage includes 40,000 homes lost, but another number also deserves close scrutiny: the flooding destroyed as many as a million cars in the Houston metro area. A job for FEMA, which over the last seven decades has evolved from building a top-secret series of bunkers designed to protect US officials in case of a nuclear attack to a sprawling bureaucratic agency tasked with mobilizing help in disasters.
And while it’s storming’ here on Earth, it’s also storming’ out in space. The Space Weather Prediction Center has upgraded a geomagnetic storm watch for September 6 and 7 to a level only occasionally seen, but scientists say it’s nothing to be too alarmed about – at least we’re getting some cool atmospheric aurora effects.

Bombs —  Sensors in South Korea, China, and the US indicated that whatever the Hermit Kingdom exploded underground recently was more powerful than the atomic weapons the US used during World War II—a benchmark North Korea had not definitively topped before. But hoorah! Because America has way more powerful bombs still.
Large sections of central Frankfurt, Germany were evacuated in preparation for authorities to defuse a World War II-era, 1.4-ton ‘Blockbuster’ HC 4000 air mine. At least 60,000 people were asked to leave the area while the bomb defusal operation proceeds. The bomb was successfully defused, but still needs to be removed from the area with utmost caution. Now there’s a perfect task for a driverless truck!

Climate change — According to Peter Wadhams, head of the Polar Ocean Physics Group at the University of Cambridge, we’re barely staving off climate disaster. Your Tesla might be cool, but it’s not helping much. The pessimistic professor has been studying sea icefor nearly 50 years. “Reducing our emissions is not going to be enough to prevent catastrophic consequences,” he says. In his scorching new book, A Farewell to Ice, Wadhams presents some radical, and sometimes theoretical, ways to save civilisation. [‘Head in the sand’ isn’t one of them.]
The terrible weather isn’t our only worry. Research published by Orb Media, a nonprofit journalism group, has revealed that microplastics have contaminated high proportions of tap drinking water and bottled water. Samples from the United States tested positive in 94% of instances, while Europe’s contamination averages around 72%. Tests were undertaken at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health, with lead researcher Dr Anne Marie Mahon noting the risk of plastics carrying bacteria.
But at least you’re probably not gluten intolerant. [I ways like to end with some good news.]

Review ~ Norton Security 2017 for Macs and iDevices


Serious protection for Macs and iDevices — How times of changed. Once we used to laugh (well, I did) at all those PC, then Android users constantly beset with viruses, malware, keyloggers (which record and transmit every keystroke you make) and other forms of security breach. We were always as susceptible to spam and phishing attempts, of course: these are usually just emails trying to fool you into going to a dodgy website or worse, to enter credit card details somewhere nefarious. (I’ve said it many times before but it’s worth repeating: New Zealand banks are NOT allowed to contact you via email for account details.)
However, despite stellar efforts by Apple engineers over many years to keep Macs and iDevices safe, Apple’s profile has risen and this makes it a much more attractive target. In fact, I thought the surge in attacks would have started about seven years ago. That it hasn’t is testament to those engineers and Apple’s increasingly powerful security measures, as irksome as all that password and two-factor authentication can be.
But now we’re definitely on the radar, whereas we used to be in the room next door with the flowers and canapés … you will notice Apple patching its system with little updates that seem to increasingly mention not just security, but actual exploits.
Macs are still safer than PCs, but we’re vulnerable now in a way we weren’t even two years ago.

One installation covers everything — Now, thanks to the venerable security company Symantec and its Norton brand, you can get one installation that protects not just a Windows PC with its long-proven susceptibility to malware, but also a Mac (macOS and the previous two versions) along with iPhone (iOS 7 and later) and Android smartphones, all from one pack.. This makes sense since a typical small business or family environment these days may have an iPhone, an Android smartphone, a PC, a Mac and who knows what else? Mixed environments, anyway. Of course, you can also just cover your iMac, MacBook, iPad and two iPhones …
Norton’s latest packs can be bought for one device, three or five, and all come with one-year subscriptions. The Security software defends against viruses, spyware, malware, phishing, software vulnerabilities, and other online threats. It’s a tall order covering the full gamut for PC and Android (hence the one-year subscription to be able to load all the new virus profiles into your defences). Be warned that only two or four Apple-centric ones might appear each year, and most of those are so obscure, many people don’t even hear of them, much less go into those cyber-spaces that might be infectious. From the moment you subscribe, a Norton expert is available to help keep your devices virus-free, or give you a refund. That’s pretty impressive.
More obviously useful, perhaps, is the level of defence to stop people getting into your machine, and/or data. Norton Security Premium works to safeguard your identity and online transactions and helps ensure that email or links actually came from trusted sources.
While most iOS software comes through Apple’s mediated and checked online App Store, Android’s market is much more Wild West. Norton security alerts you about risky Android apps before you download them.
Other features include helping you manage protection for all your devices via a web portal., protects your kids from unsafe content and can even manage and balance your kids’ time online and offline. It also guards against over sharing online.
You should have a 5GB (free) or larger (paid) iCloud subscription, but the five-pack offers 25GB to which you can automatically back up photos, financial files and other personal information in a secure way (iCloud is pretty secure, please note). You can add more storage to this if you need. 
You buy a product key pack, go to the link provided, enter the key code enclosed in the pack, follow the on-screen instructions and voila. You can also just buy the pack online and download all that you need with the product key you are sent.

Console — You can add devices easily from your Mac. The console loads from the top-right menu that installs with your Product Key. So it tends to suit a sort of master security person who then adds others to the system. Under Customize you can turn protection on or off, further configure the Firewall (which stops people infiltrating your device through networks), protect Safari, Firefox and Chrome browsers (includes warnings or blocking harmful websites, Phishing protection presuming you use webmail, and allows you to submit suspicious sites you might find), File Guard (add files to prevent people opening or modifying them), and Activity to show what activities Norton has been dealing with, allowing you to see potential attacks. Each has a little configure button beside it. You can also undertake a quick or deep scan as soon as you install, to deal with anything you may have picked up in the interim.
You can also sign in via this console to your account, where you can turn on or off the automatic subscription renewal (this process takes you to a secure account page at Norton).

Protection for iPhone — The worst thing that can happen with an iPhone is someone stealing it before the screen locks. Even the police have been known to snatch and grab to get access to data. Download Norton Mobile Security onto your iOS device from iTunes App Store, and then sign into your Norton Account to register your device.
Protection for your iDevice is pretty basic compared to all the android hopes it hast jump through what with their open system developments and unverified app stores and what not: it’s just anti-theft and backup (and backup’s already handled by your iCloud account, although this gives you more space). Backup only seems to handle your Contacts, though – important nonetheless. But iCloud securely backs up your list of iTunes-bought bought music, apps and settings.
The anti-theft features are available via web and SMS to find and protect your lost device once you log into Norton’s website with your profile. You can lock your lost device from the Norton Mobile Security website or by sending an SMS; make a voice call over Internet to your iOS device; trigger an audible alarm to find your lost device if it is nearby; and finally locate a lost device on map or receive the location coordinates via SMS. You can also securely delete all your data and personal information on the lost device.
In some regions of the world (I could not ascertain where New Zealand sits in this), you can even take a snapshot using the device’s camera to help find a lost device, but this feature is not available through SMS, only online. However, users can upload and display pictures even when devices are locked.Conclusion — I have trialled security software before, and I always end up uninstalling it as 1/ until recently there have been no real threats, and 2/ I resented the subsequent impact constant scanning and updating had on my system. But I have to say, on my Mac and iPhone 6, I have become aware of no slowdown at all. So that’s a big plus.
But note you’ll be shocked how many – and how many times – what looks like innocuous software on your Mac is accessing the net (pictured above). You get to allow or disallow this activity.
You have to put your faith in Norton. For Symantec to find viruses before they infect you personally is quite a task, but hey, there’s that money-back guarantee. Norton has considerable resources online to help you install, uninstall, problem-solve and learn this software, plus that help line, so that’s all very positive.

What’s great — Protecting an iPhone, iPad and a Mac with one solution is smart.
What’s not — This kind of security does a lot more for a Windows PC, both from need and in features (ie, the Startup Manager and Rootkit Protection, whatever that is), than it will for a Mac.
Needs — People who don’t feel secure enough already; travellers; those with lots of precious data on their devices who don’t want to go through the constantly-evolving procedures to keep them secure on wifi networks etc and, particularly, mixed environments that are more vulnerable than just completely Apple ones.

Norton Security Premium for Five Devices – The five-license version currently costs NZ$134.99 (discounted from $169.99); the three-license pack is $104.99, and for one device $69.99. (If you do the maths, that’s $69.99 to protect one device, but if you buy a five-device pack that’s effectively $27 for each.
Norton Virus Protection Promise offers a 100% refund assurance. If your device gets a virus we can’t remove, you get your money back.

System — Current and previous two versions of macOS X. Password Management feature not supported. iOS 7 or later on iPhone, iPad, and iPod (and Android 2.3 or later, must have Google Play app installed, plus Microsoft Windows XP (all 32-bit versions) with Service Pack 3 (SP 3) or later; Vista (all versions) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later; Windows 7 (all versions) with Service Pack 1 (SP 1) or later; Windows 8/8.1

Available from — retailers including Noel Leeming, or purchased online.

FBI debacle, Microsoft’s ‘free’ Windows has ads


CookABC

Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Interview on ABC on the FBI, security etc — ABC has published its interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the topic of the government ordering Apple to create a backdoor into iOS. In the interview, ABC reporter David Muir asks asks a series of questions that seem quite slanted (against Apple’s stance), but Cook lays out one of his most passionate arguments in defense of protecting privacy and security. He also explains (repeatedly) how Apple worked with the FBI on the device to get as much information from it and from iCloud data as possible. Various polls say more support Apple than the FBI (but others say the opposite), a report says Apple is reacting by making iPhones even more secure, and Obama says the administration and FBI must act to restore US government credibility in Apple’s encryption debate.

Users of Microsoft’s ‘free’ Windows 10 find unexpected ads on lock screen — Microsoft recently began running advertisements directly on the lock screens of Windows 10 devices, catching users by surprise with marketing on their PCs and tablets. Microsoft’s “free” Windows 10 operating system is configured by default to display such ads on the lock screen whenever the Redmond, Wash., software company decides to do so.

Top Millennial brand, EU tax, equal rights, retail, Xcode bug-fixes, shadowy auto, security


[Image from Apple Inc's NZ store page]
[Image from Apple Inc’s NZ store page]
Apple tops the 100 Millennial Brands list — Apple, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Microsoft lead the top 100 Millennial Brands, according to a study released by digital ad agency Moosylvania, a national digital agency specialising in Millennial consumer marketing. The research compiled favorite brands based on three years of millennial research.

EU regulators may issue decision on Ireland/Apple tax deal before year’s end — Ireland’s finance minister thinks European Union regulators will issue a decision on the country’s tax deal with Apple before the end of 2015, which could force the Cupertino, California-based company to pay a hefty amount of back taxes, notes Reuters.

Tim Cook says businesses should tackle climate change & equal rights proactively, not wait for governments — Large corporations should actively wield their power and influence for the good of the planet and its people, rather than sitting back and waiting for governments to take the lead, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said in a speech at Italy’s top business school on Tuesday. [While not bothering to pay taxes … because corporations have the high moral ground?]

Angela Ahrendts offers deep dive into Apple retail, future aspirations — Apple retail chief Angela Ahrendts, speaking at the Fast Company Innovation Festival on Monday, pulled back the curtain on Apple Store, revealing a few interesting tidbits about the company’s current operating philosophy and future goals.

Latest Xcode update fixes critical Interface Builder, debugging, UI testing issues — Apple pushed out a batch of bug fixes with the latest version of its Xcode development software on Monday, addressing critical issues discovered in Interface Builder, debugging and user interface testing.

Shadowy group linked to Apple’s ‘Project Titan’ spotted at auto industry conference — A mysterious California company believed to be used to mask the development of Apple’s rumoured electric car has been spotted at an automotive industry conference, strengthening the ties between the self-styled “market research” firm and vehicle manufacturing.

There’s a new Apple ID phishing scam, but you don’t have to fall for it — There’s a new phishing scam making the rounds that tries to trick victims into giving up their Apple ID, account password, and credit card information. The looks more legit than many others The Mac Observer has seen, but it’s still fake, and fairly easy to spot. [Basically, a phishing scam is one where you are tricked into entering your Apple ID email and password into a spurious site – the scammers can then access your iCloud stuff.] While you’re at it, never download software from download sites.

iOS 9 key features, News app, security, Android Migration Assistant, Reproductive and other tracking


iDevice security gets even tighter
iDevice security gets even tighter

Key features of the coming iOS 9 — In yesterday’s WWDC 2015 Keynote, Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi introduced the upcoming version of Apple’s mobile operating system iOS 9. Key features of iOS 9 will include Slide Over, Split View, Picture-in-Picture and more. Possibly best of all is an hour’s more battery from a new Low Power Mode. Six ‘Headaches of iOS 8 will also be fixed.

Goodbye to Newstand — An app called News for iOS 9 replaces Newsstand as the place Apple wants mainstream periodicals — plus websites and every other kind of publisher — to place stories and articles. Apple showed off a sneak peek during Monday’s WWDC keynote. According to messages from developers who have installed iOS 9, the Newsstand quasi-folder turns into a regular folder, and Newsstand apps now have a standard, static iOS icon rather than a custom issue-cover one.

Apple steps up security with native two-factor and 6-digit passcodes in iOS 9 — Nestled in the middle of iOS 9 announcements were two security-related bumps: Tighter still security you set a six-digit passcode instead of a four-digit one; and two-factor authentication becomes a built-in part of iOS (and OS X) rather than an afterthought.

Android migration assistant — Apple wants to make it easier for Android smartphone users to switch to iPhone, so when iOS 9 ships this fall it’s going to include a new app designed to help move your data over for you. The app transfers everything from contacts and email accounts, to music and photos, and then lets you know you can take your old Android phone to an Apple Store for free recycling.

Reproductive and other Tracking — Reproductive tracking will be added to the Health app as part of the upcoming iOS 9 update. The lack of women’s health-related monitoring in iOS has been a sore point since iOS 8 shipped last fall. Soon you’ll be able to glance at where you are in your reproductive cycle — alongside how many steps you’ve taken that day, and how many calories you’ve eaten — using Apple’s built-in Health app. The reproductive-tracking addition is joined by other new metrics, such as UV tracking, water-intake tracking, and your time spent not moving.

Five Tip Friday ~ Secure your Mac, and advanced Spotlight searches


Enabling Stealth Mode secures your Mac wifi even more
Enabling Stealth Mode secures your Mac wifi even more

1/ Enable Stealth Mode in Yosemite — Many people take their Mac laptops with them nowadays. If you’re one of those people, connecting your Mac to Wi-Fi networks willy-nilly in cafés etc, you might want to make sure you secure your information so others with less-than-honourable intentions can’t get their mitts on it.
Launch System Preferences and go to Security & Privacy>Firewall. Make sure Firewall is on. If it isn’t, you’ll need to click the lock in the lower left and enter the Mac’s admin password to enable it. When it’s on, then go to Firewall Options>Enable Stealth Mode:Between the Firewall being on and Stealth Mode being enabled, you have done quite a bit to secure your machine.
You’re not 100% protected from hacking, by virtue of being online there is always some risk (at home or not), and if you’re one of those people who leaves all your stuff to go to the restroom then all bets are off.

2/ Turn off broadcasting — A secondary measure you can take is to disable other broadcasting services. If you have iTunes sharing set up, you might want to turn that off in iTunes>Preferences>Sharing so your computer doesn’t magically appear in someone else’s iTunes. Another service to adjust is AirDrop. Open a new window and click on AirDrop in the sidebar, or switch to the Finder and choose Go>AirDrop. In that window, you can adjust who sees your computer if they too open an AirDrop window. You can adjust this to contacts, or even nobody at all if you’d rather disable it entirely. Now at least while you’re not home you can close some of the most obvious access points to all your information.

3/ Spotlight searches — There are several ways to access Spotlight in the Mac OS Finder. You can open a Finder window and click in the search field at the top, or can press Command-F [my personal fave] to convert any open Finder window into a search window. You can also access the Finder window search after you’ve started a query in the Spotlight menu (useful if you’ve got too many results). Simply scroll down in the results list until you get to the bottom and click Show All in Finder; Spotlight will open a new Finder window showing the results of your search.

4/ Hone your search — The Finder window’s search bar contains several options for tailoring your results. When you start typing search terms, the Finder pops up a menu asking if you want to restrict your search terms to file names only. And you can click on ‘This Mac’ to change the target of your search from the folder you were in when you started searching, to your entire Mac, including (or not) connected hard drives, thumb drives etc.

5/ Add criteria — On the right side of the Finder window’s search bar is a plus-sign button. Click it to display two menus; by default, the first is set to Kind, and the second is set to Any. But there are other options to choose from.
To narrow down your results, start by selecting one of the criteria in the first menu, such as Created Date, Last Opened Date, or Name. Or choose Other to call dozens of other options, including Authors, Audio Bit Rate, Email Addresses, Recipients (people who received a certain file), Layers (names of Photoshop layers), and much more. Click on the check box next to an item if you want it to appear in the first menu for easy access in the future. As you select different options, the second menu changes dynamically so you can set the appropriate parameters (such as dates, numbers, and so on).

There is more on this topic at Macworld.

Five Tip Friday ~ iOS 8 security and privacy tips.


iOS 8 is now on 60% of all iDevices, and the 8.1.1 update ironed out all sort of problems and made it work properly on iPhone 4s, so here are some excellent tips for the Operating System.

Turn this on to have your iPhone or iPad send its last location as its battery dies.
Turn this on to have your iPhone or iPad send its last location as its battery dies.

1/ Using ‘Send Last Location’ — A  new security feature embedded in iOS 8 is called Send Last Location. This feature, when turned on, tell Apple where your device is right before its battery dies (assuming it has a Wi-Fi or cellular connection), so if someone’s taken it or it’s been lost, you can see where it last reported in. But this isn’t on by default. To turn it on, visit Settings iCloud on your iOS device, scroll down and touch Find My [Device].
Once you’ve done that, you should see the “Send Last Location” toggle. Your device will transmit its location as its battery is dying, possibly helping you recover what’s been stolen — or what’s hiding under your living room couch.

2/ Turn off Geo-Stamping of your photos — when you take pictures with your iPhone, you can see (in iPhoto and the Preview app, for example) exactly where that photo was taken on a map. Great for you, but what if you send that picture to someone else? It could be passed on hundreds of times – which means hundreds of people can do the same thing and see exactly where your lounge is when you took that picture of your big, shiny new TV or whatever. Or your kids … If you don’t want your photos populated with GPS coordinates in the EXIF data, go to Settings, choose Privacy, tap Location services, and turn them off for Camera. You can turn it back on any time.

3/ Control which apps access your Private Data — Some iOS apps need to access your personal data: a special camera app may want to access your camera roll; Skype may want to access all your contacts etc.
The iOS Setting for this is Settings>Privacy. At the top of this screen, ‘Location Services’ goes off to another page where you can define which apps get to know your location. 
If you tap on Contacts, you’ll be shown a list of apps that have asked for access to your Contacts list.
If you, at one time, granted access, say, when the app first launched, this is the place to revoke it. From time to time, the app may ask permission again. Apple places a limit on how many times a developer may pester you about that:  grant permission on an as-needed basis.
It’s probably a good idea to step through every app in that list and note which apps have been granted (or denied) access to your data.

Hide4/ Keep personal photos out of collections with iOS 8’s ‘hide photo’ feature — Apple’s ‘Collections’ feature for photos in iOS helps you keep track of memories and easily presents them when it’s time to show off: photos are automatically sorted into smart groups based on the time and location they were taken, making it a breeze to quickly find every picture you’ve taken in Florida or during December. But there may be pictures you want to keep, yet don’t want people to see. Let’s call them ‘personal’ photos.
iOS 8 makes keeping your personal photos out of your Collections quick and easy, in two quick steps: locate the photo you want hidden, select it, and hold down your finger on the image.
A hide option pops up. Tap it to confirm you’d like to hide the image.
The hidden image is left out of your Collections folder but it’s still viewable from the Albums portion of the Photos menu.
Now you can rest easy when displaying your Collection over AirPlay during the Holidays. If you take care to hide the right (or wrong, depending on your perspective) images, your family never has to know what you really did at the office Christmas party…

5/ Hide App Store purchases — Users who have enabled Family Sharing can also hide App Store purchases more easily in iOS 8. Previously, users had to launch iTunes on their Mac or PC to do this. But with iOS 8, users can hide purchases directly within the App Store application: choose the Updates menu and tap Purchased. If you have Family Sharing enabled, choose ‘My Purchases’ and downloaded applications — both free and paid — are listed. These can be sorted by ‘All’ or those ‘Not on This iPhone’.
Simply swipe an app to the right to display the red ‘HIDE’ option. Tapping this removes the application from the Purchased view. Easy.

Apple Watch 489 ~ Through a lens darkly


Tim Cook, the Apple Watch and the issue over sapphire glass (image from ABC news).
Tim Cook, the Apple Watch and the issue over sapphire glass (image from ABC News).

The actual Apple Watch, which has been announced, shown off and will be available next year, will no doubt just be a fancy, show-off watch to some people, but with HealthKit it can be a lot more. The real promise of the Apple Watch is in health monitoring apps.

Other things it’s supposed to be able to do is act as a remote for your iPhone and Apple TV. Actually, it won’t even work without an iPhone, so some people will have to buy both at once if they want the most fashionable tech time piece (once available) so far.

And ‘fashionable’ appears to be exactly what Apple is aiming for. Long before the actual object’s arrival, Apple has displayed prototypes at the Paris Fashion Week and the wrist device will appear on the cover of the November issue of Vogue China.

Apple approached Vogue China’s editor-in-chief with the (usual) Apple angle of the clever combination of technology, style and functionality.

It looks like Apple is trying hard to market its Apple Watch outside of the normal male 20-somethings that make up the majority of those launch-day queues, as Gizmodo points out. This means new markets.

Meanwhile, Apple devices have become so secure the FBI is complaining. Seems fantastical, right? It turns out it’s not impossible for police to look at the data on iDevices, it’s just more difficult.

The fantastically named Ronald T Hosko, former Assistant Director of the FBI Criminal Investigative Division, published an opinion piece in The Washington Post that proclaimed law enforcement anger at the changes. Gizmodo has an opinion piece going into personal security and personal privacy.

Meanwhile, Apple has been dealing with all the usual rubbish that gets written about them whenever the Californian giant releases anything. Bendgate was ridiculous: Apple sold 10 million phones in four days and 9 of the bigger ones got bent. As far as I’m concerned, anyone who puts c$1000 phone in their back pocket and then sits on it deserves trouble, or at least a bargain-basement head-examination. For goodness sake, if you go for the bigger iPhone 6, put a good case on it (Apple’s cases are available now and many third party ones are appearing) and don’t put it in your back pocket – or a bench vice!

Meanwhile, you may have heard that Apple’s Sapphire supplier (it’s the material for the high-tech, super-tough lens in the two iPhone Sixes) has filed for bankruptcy. How could they, with an Apple supply contract?

GT Advanced Technologies’ bankruptcy filing continues to take strange turns. A day after signalling its intention to wind down operations and presumably sell whatever assets remain, a report from MacRumors relayed that GTAT filed court documents seeking to free itself from the executed contracts it signed with Apple, calling the terms of the deal “oppressive and burdensome.” GTAT plans to be fully wound down by December. You have to wonder why Apple doesn’t just buy it and run it properly if it wants Sapphire.

The somewhat unforeseen and unseemly demise of this supplier has turned up some interesting facts. GT Advanced revealed it could have had to pay a US$50 million fine if it leaked information about Apple products. This showed up in court documents, according to the Financial Times’ Tim Bradshaw.

You might recall that current Apple CEO Tim Cook was the supply chain expert who made everything work like clockwork – a big part of the rise of Apple over the last decade. Apple has been criticised for its incredibly stringent supply chain conditions before, but this time it’s in the US, so I expect this issue will get a bit more exercise in the press.

At the same time, a report has emerged about the crazy work culture at Apple. Former Apple managers Don Melton and Nitin Ganatra got together and discussed, amongst a slew of other fascinating topics, the hectic and always-on work schedule that comes with being a manager at Apple in a Debug podcast. During the podcast, Melton says “there is no way you can cruise through a job at Apple. That just does not happen for anybody I’ve ever seen.” Melton adds “… these people are nuts”.

You can read more, along with a link to the podcast, at TUAW.

Cook on privacy and security, Mavericks and Safari updates, printer drivers solved


Tim Cook has restated Apple's attitude to your data – it's super secure and nobody gets to look at it.
Tim Cook has restated Apple’s attitude to your data – it’s super secure and nobody gets to look at it.

Tim Cook touts new Apple privacy policies in open letter to customers — Apple on Wednesday [in the US] updated its customer privacy webpage to reflect new security initiatives, highlighting a letter written by CEO Tim Cook, who restated the company’s business is in selling products, not harvesting data.

Apple releases OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks with reliability enhancements, includes Safari 7.0.6 — Apple has released the latest OS X 10.9 Mavericks maintenance update, which includes Safari version 7.0.6, with fixes for VPN reliability and file access from SMB servers. Mac users can download OS X 10.9.5 Mavericks via Software Update or the Mac App Store. 10.9.5 also has improvements to VPN and SMB Servers.

The trick to finding the right printer driver for your Mac — Ted Landau at Macworld tells you more, and it makes interesting reading.

Cook on Apple security and privacy


Apple values your privacy, reiterates Cook
Apple values your privacy, reiterates Cook

Cook solid on privacy — There’s not much Mac news at the moment since Apple launched iDevices only last week, but Apple CEO Tim Cook has some advice for those concerned about privacy and your data: follow the money. In an interview with Charlie Rose posted to YouTube on Monday (embedded at this link), Cook made an impassioned argument that Apple makes its profit from selling goods, rather than selling you.
When  Google, Facebook, and all the other companies makes their money by collecting “gobs of personal information,” you have a right to be worried.
People ask why I shun Gmail instead of Apple’s iCloud Mail – they’re both free, can be used across devices and work well when you’re travelling. Cook said: “So, we’re not reading your email. We’re not reading your iMessages. If the government laid a subpoena on us to get your iMessages, we can’t provide it. It’s encrypted, and we don’t own the key. The door is closed.”

Five Tip Friday — Safari on iOS for iPhone and iPad


Searching inside web pages in Safari for iOS on iPhone
Searching inside web pages in Safari for iOS on iPhone

1/ Finding specific text on a lengthy web page — To search a webpage for some specific text (which you can do on the Mac with Command F any time you are on a web page), tap on the location bar and enter the term you want to find, then scroll down to the bottom to find the On This Page heading. Safari will tell you how many matches there are for that text. Tap the entry and it will even let you quickly jump through them, highlighting each instance in yellow.

2/ Reopen tabs you’ve closed — Just tap and hold on the New Tab button in the toolbar and you get a pop-up menu listing all of your recently closed tabs — it’s way faster than trying to get to Safari’s History listing. Tap any of the tabs in this list to load them once again.

3/ Coping with tab proliferation — If you’ve ever had tab proliferation strike, you know it’s a pain to go through and close all those sites one by one. There’s an easier way: tap on the location bar and then tap the Private button just above the keyboard. You will be prompted to either keep your current tabs or close them all. Tap Close All and then tap Private again to return to normal browsing.

4/ Make hidden text visible — If half the text is hidden in caption text (also called “alt text”), from iOS 7 onwards, you can simply tap-and-hold on any image to bring up a popup that includes that extra text.

5/ Privacy and security — To modify the security settings of Safari on your iOS device, tap Settings and choose Safari.
To enable or disable Anti-phishing, turn Fraudulent Website Warning on or off. (Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to steal your personal information, such as passwords, account information or user names. A fraudulent website masquerades as a legitimate one, such as a bank, financial institution, or email service provider.)
When on, the Anti-phishing feature in Safari shows an alert if the site you’re visiting is suspected as a phishing site.
To visit sites without making history, turn Private on or off in Safari: tap Safari, then tap in the lower-right corner on the multiple-tabs icon (2 superimposed rectangles).
The word ‘Private’ appears at bottom left – just tap it. When Safari for iOS is in Private mode, the bar along the top of Safari turns black. This mode protects your private information and blocks some websites from tracking your behaviour. Safari won’t remember the pages you visit, your search history, or your AutoFill information.

Five Tip Friday ~ Mac tips for better Finder work


Recent Items offers fast, easy, always-available access to your last-used documents and apps
Recent Items offers fast, easy, always-available access to your last-used documents and apps

1/ Recent items — One of my favourite general Mac Finder features is the Recent Items folder, which lists the last few apps and the last few documents you opened. It’s in the Apple menu so you can use the feature no matter what you are doing. Within apps, under the File menu, there’s also an Open Recent option – this is handy as you can see the last few documents you had open in that particular app.
Security — remember, if you can see these things, so can anyone else. Luckily you can clear these – select Apple Menu>Recent Items and choose Clear Menu from the bottom. In apps, the Open Recent also gives you the option to clear this if you want to delete the easy-open of files you have been working with/looking at.
[Remember — with this redesigned site, lots of images can show in way more quality than before. Just click them, and go Back afterwards to get back to this main page.]

The Mac OS X Finder also tracks which folders you have been in
The Mac OS X Finder also tracks which folders you have been in

2/ Where you have been — Your Mac also tracks where you have been, for your convenience should you wish to open a recently -used folder again without having to troll through your entire hard drive again. In Finder (ie, when you can see the word ‘Finder’ immediately beside your Apple menu) choose the Go menu, which offers a standard list of places you’re likely to go. But notice Recent Folders under this list – and also that it has a Clear Menu option at the bottom.

3/ What files are and how much space they’re using — Choose About This Mac from the Apple menu, then click on the More Info button, then on the Storage tab. Now you’ll see a very general graphical layout of the file allocation for each volume connected to your Mac. This representation lists Audio, Movies, Photos, Apps, Backups … and the somewhat mysterious ‘Other’.
This entry can account for a lot of space on the drive. It denotes files that don’t fit into the other five categories. This classification is based on Spotlight indexing.
Other files include the contents of the System and Library folders (because Spotlight won’t report on them by default), non-media documents such as text files and email archives, plug-ins and extensions, media files tucked away inside packages (because Spotlight can’t look inside packages – ie the contents of applications themselves), and other file types mysterious to Spotlight.

4/ Finder problems? Relaunch it — Sometimes the Finder locks up, or  configuration changes you have made require a Finder restart. You don’t actually have to restart your Mac to do this. Making sure the Finder is the frontmost app, hold down the shift key on your keyboard and open the Apple menu. Select ‘Force Quit Finder’ and the Finder will automatically relaunch.
Alternatively, you can select Force Quit and relaunch the Finder from the list of running apps. Press this keyboard combo: Command-Option-Escape to launch the Force Quit window. Note that the button in Force Quit is different for the Finder app – it says Relaunch instead. Click it … the Finder relaunches.
Thirdly, you can hold down the Option key and click-and-hold on the Finder app for a Relaunch option (and more).

5/ Whisk files into the Trash — While you’re in the Finder, you can zap files into the trash instantly with a  keyboard combo, saving all that clicking and dragging. It’s a little bit dangerous as they whisk into it without a moment’s hesitation, but it’s also pretty cool. Click and select a file (or click and drag over several files) then hold down the Command key on your keyboard, then press the Delete key at top-right of your keyboard.
The trash doesn’t empty, it just fills with the files you Command-delete. But … there’s a combo for instant emptying, too: Command Shift Delete (it only works when you are in the Finder).