Senate wiretapping debate comes to an end

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wiretapping debate
The U.S. Senate is hashing out the USA Freedom Act, which concerns government wiretapping.
Screencap: Evan Killham/Cult of Mac

The U.S. Senate has taken one step closer to a final vote on changing the government’s controversial program to freely tap and monitor citizens’ phones.

Senators voted 83-14 to end debate on the “Uniting and Strengthening America by Fulfilling Rights and Ending Eavesdropping, Dragnet-collection and Online Monitoring” (USA Freedom) Act. The bill will extend lapsed provisions of the anti-terrorism Patriot Act and aims to add transparency to the NSA’s activities surrounding wiretapping and data collection.

A final vote could happen as early as this afternoon.

Apple urges Obama to block government snooping

Apple has taken steps to avoid snooping.
Apple has taken steps to avoid snooping.

Apple has put its name to a letter which will be sent today, appealing to the White House to protect individual privacy rights in the face of suggestions that law enforcement should be able to access encrypted smartphone data via a backdoor.

“Strong encryption is the cornerstone of the modern information economy’s security,” argues the letter, which is signed by more than 140 tech companies, technologists, and civil society groups.

CIA spends years trying to break Apple’s security

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The CIA is gunning for Apple's security. Photo: Spy vs. Spy
The CIA is gunning for Apple's security. Photo: Spy vs. Spy

The CIA has been been involved in a multi-year effort to crack iOS security, according to new information provided to The Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The attempts have been the focal point of multiple yearly CIA conferences called “The Jamboree.”

Among the possible solutions proposed include a means of “whacking” Xcode, the software used to create apps for iOS and Macs. Researchers claimed they had discovered a means by which Xcode could be manipulated to allow devices to be infected, so as to allow for the extraction of private data — thereby creating a “remote backdoor” that would disable core security features and allow undetected access to Apple devices.

Apple is working on fix for newly discovered ‘FREAK’ security bug

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This login screen for a Quanta Computer database led to sensitive documents containing details on upcoming Apple products. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The Freak bug went unnoticed for over a decade. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

A newly discovered security bug has secretly left Safari users on both iOS and OS X vulnerable to attacks on hundreds of thousands of websites for years.

The ‘FREAK’ security flaw was exposed today by a group of nine researchers who discovered web browsers could be forced to use an intentionally-weakened form of encryption. FREAK effects iPhones, Macs, and Android browsers, but Apple’s spokesman says the company will release a fix next week.

Maybe the NSA hasn’t hacked your iPhone after all?

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The NSA has just hacked 2 billion SIM cards around the globe, but Gemalto says it isn't that bad.  Photo: Wikicommons
The NSA has just hacked 2 billion SIM cards around the globe, but Gemalto says it isn't that bad. Photo: Wikicommons

Late last week, we reported on the newest leak from Edward Snowden, indicating that the NSA had hacked the SIM cards of pretty much every smartphone on Earth. iPhones included.

It looked bad. The hack allowed the NSA to tap into your phone without a court order. But today, the Dutch company responsible for 2 billion SIM cards released a statement, saying that as far as they can tell, fears of a massive NSA invasion are overblown.