October 29, 2018

Apple and Samsung punished for slowing down old smartphones

By John E Dunn

As Apple and Samsung have just found out, to their cost, there is a right way and a wrong way to offer software updates to mobile customers.

According to Italy’s AGCM antitrust investigators, the right way is for companies to provide iOS and Android updates that add new features and improve the experience of using a device.

The wrong way, by contrast, is to offer an update that slows it down or causes it to malfunction.

The AGCM claims that both companies served their customers too much of the wrong sauce, which is why it has decided to fine Apple €10 million ($11.4 million) and Samsung €5 million ($5.7 million) as punishment.

Small change for both companies, but the judgment nevertheless sets an extraordinary precedent that will likely unsettle device makers.

For the first time ever, a government organization has found a computer maker guilty of using software updates to make their customer’s device worse.

But why would Apple and Samsung want to do such a thing?

Apple’s problems date back as far as iOS 10, developed for the iPhone 7, but made available for iPhone 6, 6s, and SE users as an upgrade from September 2016.

Owners started complaining about sudden shutdowns post-upgrade, which it later emerged Apple had tried to fix with updates that throttled CPU performance to cope with what it decided were ageing batteries.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2018/10/26/apple-and-samsung-punished-for-slowing-down-old-smartphones/

Facebook fined £500K for Cambridge Analytica saga

By Lisa Vaas

You know what takes 17 minutes?

The Register crunched the numbers because that sliver of Facebook revenue – £500k (about $640k) – is how much the social media giant has been fined by the UK’s data protection watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), over the Cambridge Analytica fiasco.

The ICO said in July that it intended to fine Facebook the maximum possible amount.

That’s exactly what it did. The sum sounds like a trifle, but it’s the best the ICO could do. The fine was served under the Data Protection Act 1998, which was replaced in May by the new Data Protection Act 2018, alongside the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Facebook would be looking at a lot more pecuniary pain under the new regulations, which include maximum fines of £17 million or 4% of global turnover.

Cambridge Analytica – in case you pulled a Rip Van Winkle and missed the saga as it played out earlier this year – was a web analytics company started by a group of researchers with connections to Cambridge University in the UK.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2018/10/26/facebook-fined-500k-for-cambridge-analytica-saga/

Former Facebook security chief calls out Apple for privacy hypocrisy

By Danny Bradbury

Alex Stamos, the former security chief at Facebook, has called out Apple CEO, Tim Cook, for what he sees as the company’s hypocrisy over user privacy.

In a series of tweets, Stamos warned the media against heaping too much praise on Cook, who has repeatedly called for privacy-friendly business models for the technology industry‘s top firms.

Stamos’ Twitter storm was a direct reaction to Cook’s speech at the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. He warned regulators that the technology industry was building an “industrial data complex “that was getting out of control.

Warning against the “weaponization of data”, Cook said:

We shouldn’t sugarcoat the consequences. This is surveillance. And these stockpiles of personal data serve only to enrich the companies that collect them. This should make us very uncomfortable. It should unsettle us.

He also delivered a sideswipe to other tech companies:

We at Apple can – and do – provide the very best to our users while treating their most personal data like the precious cargo that it is. And if we can do it, then everyone can do it.

Cook’s rhetoric follows previous tussles with Facebook, which he criticized for having a business model that involves selling users’ data.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2018/10/26/former-facebook-security-chief-calls-out-apple-for-privacy-hypocrisy/

Facebook stopped 8.7m nude images of children in 3 months

By Lisa Vaas

Have you heard tales about innocent photos showing babies taking a bath disappearing from Facebook?

If so, it could well be because somebody brushed up against Facebook’s new machine learning that’s proactively spotting and removing child nudity, even if it’s nonsexual, as the platform continues its ongoing work to battle child abuse, including automatic removal of obscene images and fending off child predators as they try to groom children for abuse.

As Facebook’s Global Head of Safety, Antigone Davis, said in a blog post on Wednesday:

The platform’s Community Standards ban child exploitation and to avoid even the potential for abuse, we take action on nonsexual content as well, like seemingly benign photos of children in the bath.

In the last quarter alone, this proactive approach has led to Facebook removing 8.7 million pieces of content due to violation of policies against child nudity or sexual exploitation. Nearly all of that content – 99% – was removed automatically, without being reported.

After a team of trained staffers with backgrounds in law enforcement, online safety, analytics and forensic investigations reviews the content, findings are reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and if exploitative content is identified, Facebook also removes the accounts it came from.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2018/10/26/facebooks-stopped-8-7m-nude-images-of-children-in-3-months/

Firefox 63 gets tough with trackers

By John E Dunn

Mozilla’s ambition to turn Firefox into the number one privacy browser was never going to be easy to pull off.

Too few, or ineffective, controls and privacy becomes a benefit in name only. Too many blunt controls and there is a danger of making websites difficult to use in ways that put people off the whole idea.

Firefox 63, released this week, is a working demonstration of just how delicate this balancing act has become.

Officially, it marks the debut for something called Enhanced Tracking Protection, which sounds like a good thing to have if the idea of limiting web surveillance is near the top of your priority list.

Firefox started down this path with version 42 in 2015, at which point the idea was to add what was then called Tracking Protection to Private Browsing mode.

With the Quantum release in 2017 it started migrating elements of Tracking Protection to the main browser. A move that culminated earlier this year with the stated ambition that Firefox should enable it by default in future releases.

Version 63 marks the start of the tricky part – integrating those privacy protections into the main browser by default.

Read more at https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2018/10/25/firefox-63-gets-tough-with-trackers/


Advanced Computer Services of Central Florida

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