Apple urged to tackle spyware – Financial Times

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Apple makes a selling point of superior security and protection of personal data on its devices, compared to its smartphone rivals, but there are now calls for it to work more closely with other companies to defeat a common threat.

Amnesty International, which analysed dozens of smartphones targeted by NSO’s Pegasus spyware, said Apple’s marketing claims about greater security and privacy had been “ripped apart” by the discovery of vulnerabilities in even the most recent versions of its iPhones and iOS software, reports Tim Bradshaw. It had found that several attempts to steal data and eavesdrop on iPhones had been made through Apple’s iMessage using so-called zero-click attacks, which do not require the user to open a link.

Aaron Cockerill, chief strategy officer at mobile security provider Lookout, claims Apple does a poor job on collaborating to tackle problems. He described iOS as a “black box” compared with Google’s Android, where he said it was “much easier to identify malicious behaviour”. “The big difference between Apple and Google is transparency,” he said.

Apple insists it does collaborate with external security researchers but chooses not to publicise the activities. The FT View is that there is more scope for collaboration, not just between tech groups but with governments as well, to identify vulnerabilities, share findings and ensure users’ protection.

Meanwhile, Northern Trains, the UK government-run train operator, has shut down its ticket machines following a suspected ransomware attack, marking the latest in a string of highly disruptive hacks by cyber criminals.

China hit back today at US-led accusations that Beijing was at the heart of a wave of global cyber attacks, including one on Microsoft’s Exchange email server software that affected tens of thousands of organisations. Its diplomats across the EU, UK, Canada, Norway and New Zealand issued statements on Tuesday slamming the allegations as “groundless” and a “malicious smear”.

The Internet of (Five) Things

1. Huawei gets ‘must improve’ report card
Huawei has made “no overall improvement” in its software engineering and cyber security quality, despite spending three years working to address systemic problems, according to the annual report of the UK’s Huawei Cyber Security Evaluation Centre. Progress had been made, but new problems had been uncovered, it said. The use of new Huawei 5G network equipment has been banned in the UK, but the company remains a significant player in the broadband market.

2. US Treasury to act on stablecoins
Cryptocurrency markets have come under renewed pressure after top US officials including Treasury secretary Janet Yellen said they expect to issue recommendations on stablecoins, important assets in the digital economy, in the coming months. Yellen “underscored the need to act quickly to ensure there is an appropriate US regulatory framework in place” at a president’s working group on financial markets, according to details released from the meeting.

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3. World’s richest man is now space’s
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos reached the lower reaches of space on Tuesday, The world’s richest man and three others were propelled to a height of 107km, in a 60ft rocket built by his space company Blue Origin. They experienced about three minutes of weightlessness before their capsule drifted back to the West Texas desert for a soft landing.

4. You can’t always get what you quant 
From picking the best stocks to listening in on earnings calls, artificial intelligence-powered systems are changing finance. But how big are the rewards? In the latest episode of our Tech Tonic podcast, Robin Wigglesworth explains how AI has been used in investing and what the robots could learn from watching children play

5. Vintage values for video games
In a world of weirdness, retro games are in some sort of bubble, writes Leo Lewis on the news that someone paid $1.56m for a sealed version of Nintendo’s Super Mario 64 cartridge — a game they will never play and is rare only for its pristine condition.

Tech tools — CookingPal’s Multo

“The kitchen gadget that does everything” is a familiar culinary claim, and devices like the Ninja Foodi have proved popular in recent years. CookingPal launched the Multo on Monday, claiming it “does the job of more than 10 kitchen appliances to make delicious meals materialise with minimal effort”. There are step-by-step recipes displayed on a companion tablet, which is used to control it, but Wired’s review suggests the Multo is perhaps trying to do too much. Rating it 2 out of 10, its food critic found it bug-ridden with dodgy recipes and definitely not worth $1,000.

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