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Cracked iPhone: Should You be Worried?

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The US government’s declaration that it has “successfully accessed the data stored on [San Bernardino gunman] Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires” assistance from Apple, ends a six week-long legal clash between the tech firm and the FBI.

But it leaves the issue at the heart of the dispute unresolved: could the FBI have forced Apple to help it unlock the device?

It is unlikely that this will be the last time a law enforcement agency tries to compel a tech company to help bypass security measures.

What are the implications for other cases?

It had been reported that there were about a dozen other cases in which the US Justice Department was pursuing court orders to force Apple to help its investigators.

The highest profile of these was in Brooklyn, New York, where the FBI wanted access to an iPhone belonging to a defendant who had already pleaded guilty to drug dealing.

In that case, a federal judge had rejected the DoJ’s effort to invoke the All Writs Act – a three-centuries-old statute that allows court orders to be issued in circumstances where other laws don’t apply.

The DoJ had launched an appeal, but it is not yet clear if it will continue or drop it. Its decision may be based on whether the technique used to extract data from Farook’s handset can be used in other cases.

The New York case involved an iPhone 5S running the iOS 7 operating system, while the San Bernardino, California case was about an iPhone 5C running the more modern iOS 9. What works against one device might not work against the other.
But assuming the US government will at some point try again to use the All Writs Act to force Apple or some other tech company to circumvent its data protection measures, it may take a Supreme Court ruling to determine whether this is truly within the authorities’ power.

Is there any way to find out how Farook’s iPhone was cracked?

At this point, there is nothing to compel the FBI to reveal how it was done, although Apple is likely to be pressing hard to find out.

The tech firm’s lawyers have already said they would want details of the technique to be made public if evidence from the cracked iPhone is later used at trial.

But it could remain secret. There is scope within US law for the authorities to withhold the source of information if it was supplied to them on a confidential basis, and to protect sensitive intelligence-gathering methodologies.

Should I assume the US authorities can now easily work out any iPhone’s passcode?

Not necessarily.
The court order originally obtained by the FBI had instructed Apple to come up with a special version of its operating system that would have prevented Farook’s iPhone from deleting its data or imposing long lockout periods if too many incorrect passcode guesses were made.

However, the latest court filings do not say that someone else has now done this, but merely that some data stored on the device has been obtained.

Researchers at the cybersecurity firm IOActive had proposed that one way of getting data off an iPhone would be to “de-cap” its memory chips.

The process they described involved using acid and lasers to expose and copy ID information about the device so that efforts to crack its passcode could be simulated on another computer without risk of triggering the original iPhone’s self-destruct tool.

If indeed this is what happened, it is not easy and there’s a high risk of causing so much damage to the phone that the desired data becomes irretrievable.

By contrast, Cellebrite – a data forensics firm that has reportedly helped the FBI with the case – has previously discussed “bypassing” passcode locks rather than trying to deduce the number.

But it is possible that doing this would yield access to only a limited amount of a handset’s data.

One other point is that Apple recently updated its iOS software.

Each upgrade adds security fixes. So, if the FBI has indeed been alerted to a flaw in Farook’s phone’s security settings, that bug may no longer exist in devices that have installed iOS 9.3.

Is there any way to ensure no-one else can read the information held on my handset?

Short of destroying the device, perhaps no.
But you can use encryption-enabled apps to digitally scramble data.

The chat tool Wickr Messenger, for instance, lets you set it so that you have to enter a password each time you log back into the app.

Likewise, PQChat requires typing in a five-digit passcode of its own to get access.

So, even if a cracked iPhone did give up the contents of its text messages, emails and WhatsApp chats, the contents of the apps mentioned above should remain safe.

All this presumes, however, that the authorities do not manage to install spyware on your device. If that happens, all bets are off.

What is the situation in the UK?

As part of her efforts to pass the Investigatory Powers Bill, the home secretary Theresa May has said that tech firms wouldn’t have hand over encryption keys or build backdoors into their platforms.

But the law still makes mention of “equipment interference warrants”.

Campaigners at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have warned that these could be used to force Apple and others to insert new code into a device in order to help the authorities extract data, in a similar manner to the FBI’s earlier order.

The EFF adds that “matching gag orders” would prevent the firms from informing their customers or even their own lawyers about the act.

Equipment interference warrants already exist under the UK’s current law.

And for now, the focus of Apple and other tech firms is getting the Investigatory Powers Bill amended to say that in the future the warrants could only be amended with the permission of a judge.

But were there to be a case where the UK police attempted to coerce Apple to override its protective measures, it might still resist – even if the fact never became public.

BBC

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Twitter Legalize Giveaway, Introduces Tip Jar, A Feature Allowing Users to Send and Recieve Money

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Twitter on Thursday introduced Tip Jar, a new feature that makes it easy for users to send money to their favorite creators on the micro-blogging service.

“This is a first step in our work to create new ways for people to receive and show support on Twitter — with money,” the company said in a blog post.

Users will be able to connect their Twitter accounts with Tip Jar to Bandcamp, Cash App, Patreon, PayPal, or Venmo. Twitter will take no cut of money sent through the feature.

According to the company’s statement in a blog post, You’ll know an account’s Tip Jar is enabled if you see a Tip Jar icon next to the Follow button on their profile page. Tap the icon, and you’ll see a list of payment services or platforms that the account has enabled. Select whichever payment service or platform you prefer and you’ll be taken off Twitter to the selected app where you can show your support in the amount you choose. The services* you can add today include Bandcamp, Cash App, Patreon, PayPal and Venmo. Twitter takes no cut. On Android, tips can also be sent within Spaces.

Those who use Twitter in English on iOS and Android will be able to start sending money through Tip Jar on Thursday. Certain users will be able to add Tip Jar to their profiles to begin collecting tips. This includes creators, journalists, experts and nonprofits, Twitter said.

The new feature comes as part of a broader effort by the company to build more features at a faster clip in a push to grow Twitter’s user base to 315 million daily active users by the end of 2023. Earlier this week, the company also announced the launch of Spaces, a feature that allows users to join virtual rooms where they can engage in real-time audio conversations with others.

Tip Jar comes after a rough week for Twitter, which has seen its stock fall more than 17 percent since April 29, when the company reported its first-quarter earnings. In the report, the company missed on analysts’ user growth expectations and the company provided lower revenue guidance for the second quarter than expected.

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Uber To Introduce Uber Connect and Uber Hourly Service In Nigeria

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Uber, a ride-hailing giant, has said it is introducing two new services for the Nigerian market. The ride-hailing company, which also offers freight, courier and other transport services, said the two services, ‘Uber Connect’ and ‘Uber Hourly’, will be available for Nigeria customers in the next few months.

The company’s country manager, Tope Akinwumi, speaking about the new services, noted that the initiative emanated from the desire to bring innovativeness in solving the transportation needs of people.

Uber’s representative, further said: “We want to bring innovations designed to help people get anywhere and get anything as cities start to move again,” Tope Akinwumi, Uber’s country manager, said in an emailed statement on Tuesday.

“As we want to show our commitment to improving the lives of Nigerians, and more importantly, unlocking access to earning opportunities for drivers, we believe this announcement is a step in the right direction.”

Uber Hourly, which is already operating in several cities around the world, is an alternative to on-demand, point-to-point trips that will provide riders added convenience with no need to re-book their ride.

The Hourly will enable riders to book rides by the hour, providing them with a single driver for their entire journeys especially for riders who may need extra time to complete tasks, also availing drivers the opportunity to make more money.

“Hourly already launched in several cities around the world including Dar es Salaam and based on those insights and the warm reception from both riders and drivers, we’re excited to bring this to Nigeria.

“We built this feature for those moments when you anticipate you’ll need extra time getting things done, and so drivers can access a meaningful earnings opportunity while “locking in” an upfront time frame for the service provided,” Akinwumi said.

Uber Connect leverages Uber’s logistics technology and network to provide people with a quick and affordable way to send packages to friends and family using the Uber app.

Akinwumi explains, “The agility of our platform allows us to quickly adapt our products to meet the evolving needs of communities impacted by the health crisis while experimenting with new revenue streams and earning opportunities for drivers.”

Uber Connect is already available in Ghana, South Africa and Kenya, including other countries across the globe.

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Paystack Expands Operation After Acquisition, Enters South Africa

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Paystack, one of the leading Nigerian fintech Startups, has expanded operations to South Africa just seven months after Stripe acquisition.

The startup acquired for over $200 million in October 2020, announced its official launch in South Africa on Thursday to increase its operating markets to three, including Nigeria and Ghana.

The South African launch was preceded by a six-month pilot, which means the project kickstarted a month after Stripe acquired it. Stripe is gearing toward a hotly anticipated IPO and has been aggressively expanding to other markets. Before acquiring Paystack, the company added 17 countries to its platform in 18 months, but none from Africa. Paystack was its meal ticket to the African online commerce market, and CEO Patrick Collison didn’t mince words when talking about the acquisition in October.

There is an enormous opportunity. In absolute numbers, Africa may be smaller right now than other regions, but online commerce will grow about 30% every year. And even with wider global declines, online shoppers are growing twice as fast. Stripe thinks on a longer time horizon than others because we are an infrastructure company. We are thinking of what the world will look like in 2040-2050,” he said.

Although Stripe said the $600 million it raised in Series H this March would be used mainly for European expansion, its foray deeper into Africa has kicked off. And while Paystack claims to have had a clear expansion roadmap prior to the acquisition, its relationship with Stripe is accelerating the realization of that pan-African expansion goal.

Now, Africa accounts for three of the 42 countries where Stripe currently has customers today.

“South Africa is one of the continent’s most important markets, and our launch here is a significant milestone in our mission to accelerate commerce across Africa,” said Paystack CEO Shola Akinlade of the expansion. “We’re excited to continue building the financial infrastructure that empowers ambitious businesses in Africa, helps them scale and connects them to global markets.”

The six-month pilot saw Paystack work with different businesses and grow a local team to handle on-the-ground operations. However, unlike Nigeria and Ghana, where Paystack has managed to be a top player, what are the company’s prospects in the South African market where it will face stiff competition from the likes of Yoco and DPO?

The opportunity for innovation in the South African payment space is far from saturated. Today, for instance, digital payments make up less than half of all transactions in the country,” Abdulrahman Jogbojogbo, product marketer at Paystack said. “So, the presence of competition is not only welcome; it’s encouraged. The more innovative plays there are, the faster it’ll be to realize our goal of having an integrated African market.”

Khadijah Abu, head of product expansion, added that “for many businesses in South Africa, we know that accepting payments online can be cumbersome. Our pilot in South Africa was hyperfocused on removing barriers to entry, eliminating tedious paperwork, providing world-class API documentation to developers, and making it a lot simpler for businesses to accept payments online.”

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