Apple announced its intention this week to buy AuthenTec for about $355 million.
If approved, the acquisition will bring several things to Apple, including the acceleration of its mobile wallet initiative; good technology for encrypting data and content, such as movies; and patent protection for several areas of mobile security.
The biggest thing Apple gets out of this is probably a strong play for using biometrics for identity in general — for online and brick-and-mortar purchases, for logging into web sites and even for digital signatures.
And it doesn’t hurt that taking AuthenTec out of the game as an independent company will be devastating to nearly all of Apple’s biggest competitors, including Google and its Android partners, and Microsoft and its OEM hardware partners.
You’ve heard the predictions. We’re quickly slouching toward a world in which your every move, every purchase, every act of “content consumption” will be meticulously and automatically monitored, tracked and captured. Algorithms will constantly profile you so advertisers can make their advertising specific to your location, preferences, personality, social group, income and education level and more.
Facebook’s future depends on this idea. This is one reason why Google launched Google+. This is why Microsoft launched Bing. This is why investors are bullish on location-based services like Foursquare. This is why Amazon.com created its own web browser.
Every major technology company, it seems, is scrambling to get into the user-data harvesting racket.
Everyone except Apple.
Why didn’t Apple buy Facebook or Twitter? Why didn’t Apple launch its own social network? What is Apple’s strategy for harvesting data about users?
I’ve been puzzled by these questions, and wondering out loud on this site exactly when and how Apple would reveal its strategy for competing on the personal-data collection battlefield.
But this week, something shocking happened that made me think: Maybe Apple isn’t going to get into the data-harvesting business at all. Maybe Apple is going to fight it!
Enjoy the feelings of impotence you can only get from remote-viewing the vandalization of your home
I have mixed thoughts on home-monitoring systems. On the one hand, you get some peace of mind knowing when the house is empty. But on the other, if the worst does happen, you get to watch the burglar burglarize your home, live, as it happens. I guess at the very least, you do have a warning not to use that toothbrush ever again. Not after the burglar stuck it in his [That’s enough! -Ed].
Still, if you’re going to add cameras to the house, then Logitech’s new “Alert 750n Indoor Master System – with Night Vision” looks pretty good. It uses your home’s powerlines to both power the camera and connect it to the network, and you can monitor it from an iOS app.
Using just a cheap TV antenna, hackers could decrypt all of the secrets on your iPhone. Photo Jens Rost/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
BARCELONA, MOBILE WORLD CONGRESS 2012 — Last night I was treated to a security demonstration. Cryptography Research director Pankaj Rohatgi pointed a cheap, standard TV antenna at an iPod Touch several feet away, running standard RSA encryption operations.
On the screen of his oscilloscope was a sound-wave generated by his custom software showing distinct troughs at semi-regular intervals. These troughs, and their accompanying flattish peaks, represented the ones and zeroes of the private keys used in every secure communication we make today, sucked right from the iPod. With no further cracking required, all of your private operations can be read as if in plain text.
How is this done? From the electronic noise generated by every microchip as it goes about its processing duties.
How do you stop kids from cheating on exams in an iPad age? Photo Brad Flickinger/Flickr CC By 2.0
A Scottish School is prepping its iPads for exam season. Cedars School of Excellence in Greenock, Inverclyde, was the first school in the world to deploy an iPad to every one of its pupils. Now it may become the first school to try to stop its pupils from iCheating in exams.
By hashing your contact details, Path could have avoided a scandal
Last week, the web exploded with the news that social iOS app Path was uploading your entire address book to its servers, and then keeping it there. Worse, it was sending and storing them in plain text (although the connection was at least SSL-encrypted). Clearly, having Path notify you when your friends join the service is handy, but is there a way to do this without compromising your privacy? According to Edinburgh iOS supremo Matt Gemmell, there is.
In an effort to appease the angered politicians in Washington, Apple is sending VP of Software, Bud Tribble, to the Senate hearing to discuss the storage of location data on iPhones. Location-Gate became one of the hottest topics concerning privacy and the use of cellular phones recently. At the center of the controversy, Apple quickly released an update to iOS (4.3.3) to amend the issue of iPhones storing user’s location data, which could possibly be acquired via a third-party to discern everywhere the user has been over the past few months. Senator Alan Franken has been the most vocal opponent of the recent discovery and was the one to initiate the hearing.
Bud Tribble has been with Apple since the 80’s, but as a Jobs loyalist, he left the company when Steve was ousted and became one of the founding members of NeXT, serving as the company’s VP of Software Development where he worked on projects that would later become the foundation for OS X.
Half of all people using mobile devices for business transfer “sensitive” data over smartphones and tablets, according to a Harris Poll released Thursday. Results of the survey, compiled from the responses of more than 2300 Americans in late January 2011 indicate tablets such as Apple’s iPad may herald a post-PC society, with men and younger audiences more likely to trust the security of their mobile data.
FuzeBox, developers of collaboration solutions for desktop and mobile installations, commissioned the survey, which found that sensitive data transfers appear to be increasing in the mobile universe as professionals begin to adopt tablets in larger numbers, and that tablets, generally, increase the likelihood of transferring sensitive and private information.