National security requests for Apple user data doubled in last half of 2016

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Apple Security Jacket
Apple has shared the number of user data requests it received last year.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

National security requests for user data from Apple doubled in the second half of 2016, compared to the first six months, Apple’s newly-published biannual transparency report reveals.

Apple received somewhere between 5,750 and 5,999 orders during the July-December period of last year, compared to the 2,750 and 2,999 requests it was handed in the January-June period. This represents the highest total count in the 3.5 years since Apple first began releasing this information in a six-monthly report.

Quick Tip: Check if a used iPhone is stolen before buying

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stolen iPhone
Make sure you never buy a ripped off iPhone.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iPhone users’ data is pretty well-protected if our iPhone is ever stolen, what with encryption, activation locks, and Find My iPhone. But theft still happens. How do you protect yourself when buying used phones, both iPhones and Android? One way is to avoid anything dodgy-looking, and to ignore suspiciously good deals (if it looks to good to be true, then it probably is).

OSX.Bella trojan discovered installing backdoors into Macs

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15 inch MacBook Pro Silver
It might be time to update your passwords again.
Photo: Apple

Security researchers have discovered a nasty bit of Mac malware similar to OSX.Dok trojan, which can bypass Apple’s GateKeeper feature.

The new bug, dubbed OSX.Bella, behaves and distributes itself in a completely different manner than OSX.Dok. But once installed, it executes a script that’s just as damaging.

Everything we think we know about the iPhone 8

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iPhone 8 concept
Same size as the iPhone 7, but with a bigger screen.
Photo: Martin Hajek

Thanks to a bevy of leaks that flooded the internet this week, we know more about the iPhone 8 than ever before. Even if only half the rumors turn out to be true, this year’s iPhone is set to be the most innovative device Apple has made in years.

Here’s what we know so far.

7 ways working at an iPhone factory will drive you crazy

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Life inside the iPhone factories isn't all that great.
Life inside the iPhone factories isn't all that great.
Photo: Foxconn

NYU graduate student Dejian Zeng pulled back the curtain on Apple’s factories in a tell-all that details his six-week stint working on an iPhone assembly line in China.

Zeng’s lengthy interview reveals details on everything from conditions inside a Pegatron dormitory to how Apple slowly shifts production for new iPhone models. Some of the most interesting bits, though, are the tiny details that show how working in an Apple factory could drive you crazy.

Here are the wildest details Zeng revealed.

Pair this button with your iPhone for safety boost

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The Revolar Instinct can bring help to a dangerous situation.
The Revolar Instinct can bring help to a dangerous situation.
Photo: Revolar

Tech innovators have yet to create a device that activates a personal defense shield to ward off would-be attackers. But a small gadget called Revolar can discreetly alert the cavalry.

A smartphone in hand means you can make an immediate call for help, but some dangerous situations leave no time to fumble with a phone. Its presence could escalate tensions. Even if you fire off a 911 call, the location info sent to dispatchers may not be specific, unless you are able to talk.

Apple updates iOS 10.3 to fix Wi-Fi security problems

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Does your iPhone feel faster with iOS 10.3?
A crucial security fix is out for iPhones.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

iPhone and iPad owners received a new software update today from Apple in the form of iOS 10.3.1.

The new iOS 10.3.1 update comes just a week after Apple released iOS 10.3, which was its biggest software update of 2017 so far. While iOS 10.3.1 doesn’t contain nearly as many new features as the last update, it does bring some crucial fixes.

Leaked CIA exploits have already been fixed, says Apple

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These are the sophisticated tools designed to exploit Apple vulnerabilities.
The CIA's leaked hacking tools don't work on updated iPhones.
Photo: CIA.org

The iOS and macOS vulnerabilities revealed by the latest WikiLeaks data dump of CIA hacking tools have already been fixed.

Apple says that an early evaluation of the info released by WikiLeaks hasn’t found any new bugs or attacks that can be used on iPhone or Mac users. Some of the exploits contained in the leaks were able to grant access to an iPhone’s call logs and SMS conversations, but only if the CIA had physical access to the device.

Old iPhone exploit opens Nintendo Switch to jailbreaking

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The Nintendo Switch's flexible Joy-Con controllers work just fine with a Mac (but not an iPhone).
The Switch might be jailbroken soon.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Nintendo Switch owners may soon be able to install third-party applications on the new gaming console thanks to an old Apple security flaw.

Although the Nintendo Switch doesn’t have a web browser, it uses Apple’s WebKit in order to render web pages. Noted iPhone jailbreaker qwertyoruiop recently discovered that the Switch could be easily hacked just by running the Pangu jailbreak tool for iOS on it.