YubiKey can make online security easy — if it gains widespread adoption. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
LAS VEGAS — Nobody wants to get hacked like Jennifer Lawrence’s iCloud account. Everyone, including Apple, is pushing two-factor authentication in the wake of the high-profile hack that exposed dozens of celebrities nude selfies, but verifying an account login with a code sent to your phone is a total pain.
In the not-so-distant future, we might all be storing two-factor authentication on our keychains.
Yubico is already providing eight out of 10 Silicon Valley companies with a tiny USB dongle called YubiKey that securely verifies an employee’s online identity. You just plug it into a computer and tap it when it’s time to log in. Now that Gmail has started supporting YubiKey on the front end, anyone can use it as the second verification step for getting into their inbox.
Touch ID may not be so secure, after all. Photo: Apple
Europe’s largest collective of hackers, the Chaos Computer Club, claims to have come up with a way of reproducing fingerprints using only a handful of photos (no pun intended) showing your fingers.
Speaking at the 31st annual Chaos Computer Club convention in Hamburg, Germany, hacker Jan Krissler, a.k.a. “Starbug,” said he had managed to copy the thumbprint of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.
This was apparently done using the commercially available software VeriFinger, using a close-up picture of von der Leyen’s thumb, taken from a news conference in October, as well as some other photos showing different angles of the fingerprint.
Apple Pay is inching closer to China. Photo: Apple
Apple is still trying to get a license for Apple Pay in China, but its new friends at Alibaba are bringing Touch ID payments to the mainstream in China today, with an update to the popular Alipay app that gives iPhone owners the power to make purchases with a fingerprint.
Alipay, which boasts over 300 million users in China, is the e-payment branch of Alibaba which just had the biggest global IPO ever this year. Tim Cook and Alibaba CEO Jack Ma met this year to talk about an Alipay + Apple Pay partnership, and the addition of Touch ID support is a strong sign that Apple’s mobile payments solution could be added in the future.
“Your biometrics basically eliminate the need for you to enter passwords for Windows log in and eventually all your websites ever again,” Kirk Skaugen, senior vice president and general manager of the PC Client Group at Intel, recently revealed.
The software, which will arrive courtesy of the Intel-owned McAfee, will allow PC users to replace the 18 passwords that the average user reportedly has with a combination of fingerprint, gesture, face and voice recognition.
About to test Apple Pay at the local Walgreens. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Critics are fond of saying Apple doesn’t innovate any more. But Apple’s new electronic payment system, Apple Pay, is innovation of the highest order. After a relatively smooth rollout this week, I honestly believe Apple Pay is the future of payments.
Even so, Apple Pay must clear some big hurdles if it’s to become the universal standard. For now, it’s limited to Apple’s latest iPhones and a relatively small number of retail partners, but the basic system — using your fingerprint to validate a purchase on your mobile phone — is the way we will pay for goods and services in the future.
Once again, Apple has shown the world how things should be done.
Particularly if you work with computers, Dropbox is one of the most useful tools available, and a new update for its official iOS app has just made it handier than ever.
Adding support for Touch ID, iOS 8 users now have the ability to unlock their Dropbox with a fingerprint. In addition, the update also adds support the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, along with sorting out general stability and performance issues, such as a fix for previewing rich text format files on iOS 8.
Apple’s new iPads are now available to pre-order through the Apple Online Store. Prices start at $399 for the iPad mini 3 and $499 for the iPad Air 2, and both will be delivered to your door next week.
Tim Cook gets ready to show off some new Apple products at the iPad Air 2 event. Photo: Apple
It’s been way too long, joked Apple, since any groundbreaking announcements like the Apple Watch and iPhone 6 Plus. While the product refreshes announced at today’s iPad-centric event aren’t as high on “wow” as the revelations during last month’s big show, these are solid updates to product lines that continue to make Apple great.
Here are the top 12 things you need to know from today’s Apple event.