DTNS 2702 – Everything’s Coming Up Augmented

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comWill we replace smartphones with augmented reality glasses? Tom Merritt and Scott Johnson discuss. Plus the latest on the Apple encryption debate.

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The Risk to Apple’s Code-Signing Key

One thing that gets glossed over in the Apple encryption discussion is whether Apple can or cannot make the requested software that it can be used only once. The problem is it’s not a simple yes or no answer.

Technologically, Apple can absolutely make software that will only work on the one phone. Steve Gibson has an excellent explanation of that on Security Now.

“If Apple complies with this case, there would be no risk of “leaking” anything “dangerous”, at least not any more than there is today of Apple’s private key leaking.“

But some experts believe that key is where the problem is.

Bruce Schneier writes “They would need to have stolen Apple’s code-signing key so that the phone would recognize the hacked as valid, but governments have done that in the past with other keys and other companies. We simply have no idea who already has this capability.”

A fair point. But maybe he’s wrong. Maybe, and hopefully, Apple has not lost control of its key. The question then becomes could this case make it harder to protect the key

The EFF thinks so. “If the government begins routinely demanding new phone-specific cracking software, this could overwhelm the security of this process by requiring many more signatures. This is another valid reason why Apple is right to fight this order.”

Also the court processes for validating an ‘instrument’ like this puts the code through many more hands, meaning more risks for the key to get out. The risks are lined out by Jonathan Zdziarski

To create a forensically sound tool that would hold up in court, it must be peer reviewed and validated by third parties.

But even then the key can be protected. Lets assume, optimistically, that even with multiple agencies handling the software, the key remains uncompromised because best practices are always followed by everyone involved.

The risk gets greater as more people handle the code. And more people will handle the code if these kinds of request were to become routine.

The best summary of this issue came from Susan Landau in her testimony to Congress.

“The FBI statements that the update will be under Apple’s control and can be tied to work only on Farook’s phone are factually correct. But they miss the point of the risks involved.

She alludes to the risks that Zdziarski illuminates and also expands on the risk of this becoming a routine process if law enforcement regularly needs to break into encrypted phones.

“All it takes for things to go badly wrong is a bit of neglect in the process or the collaboration of a rogue employee. And if the FBI, CIA, and NSA can suffer from rogue employees, then certainly Apple can as well.”

UPDATE

On Thursday, March 3rd, security experts Dino Dai Zovi, Dan Boneh, Charlie Miller, Hovav Shacham, Bruce Schneier, Dan S. Wallach and Jonathan Zdziarski filed an amicus brief that outlined the risk of creating the software even if Apple can keep control of the code-signing key.

“Even if Apple writes the Custom Code such that it must input an iPhone device identifier and then sign the software, leak or theft poses a security risk. Having access to the Custom Code is a dangerous stepping stone towards a successful attack. The Custom Code helps attackers understand the passcode limitations bypass.”

So there you have it. Technically the FBI is right. Software can be made that will work only one time in this one case with no danger of causing harm to other phones.

The question is then how often you believe the process would happen and how well Apple can protect its key in that case and how much advantage attackers would get from the code even without the key.

DTNS 2701 – A Hack of the Clones

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comMicrosoft is promising to make Xbox Games playable on Windows 10 as universal apps. But they have a long way to go. Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt try to figure it out.

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DTNS 2700 – Heavy is The Head That Wears the Hololens

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe Microsoft Hololens costs $3,000 making the Vive and Rift seem cheap. But it’s a developer edition and Augmented Reality not Virtual Reality. Tom Merritt and Veronica Belmont discuss whether that makes a difference.

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DTNS 2699 – Out Think Disruption

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.com

Peter Wells and Trevor Long report back from MWC 2016; the best in show, and the most interesting gadgets they played with.

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Weekly Tech Views – Feb 27, 2016

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Real tech stories. Really shaky analysis.

Good luck getting to work on time Monday, what with your big Oscar-viewing parties coming right on the heels of your raging Weekly Tech Views-reading parties.

For the week of February 22 – 26, 2016…

Hype That Company
HTC announced that their Vive VR device would be available in April for $799. This is $200 more than the announced Oculus Rift, but includes two Hand Tracking Controllers. Hand. Tracking. Controllers. H. T. C. Right? Watch for this clever HTC naming convention to continue with future accessories Head Turning Contraption, Haptic Toenail Conceptualizer, Hydrating Tear Converter, and the Holographic Tooth Conduit.

Thanks, I Guess
Apple continues to fight a court order requiring them to help the FBI access information on an iPhone 5c. They have filed a motion to vacate the order, and amicus briefs supporting their stance will be filed by Verizon, Twitter, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft. “We certainly appreciate the support and acknowledgment from our peers that we have made the correct decision,” said Apple’s Tim Cook, “but I don’t think it was necessary for Microsoft to include the line ‘even a stopped clock is right twice a day.'”

I’m Hoping There Will Also Be Some Texts With George Lukas
It turns out that in addition to this iPhone, the FBI wants Apple’s help accessing twelve others. It would be thirteen, if the FBI would realize the importance of getting into the phone I bought at a flea market from a guy that used to live in Los Angeles. He sold me JJ Abrams’s phone! The one he used while filming The Force Awakens! The guy says there’s audio, video, and photos from the set. Notes he made about script changes. But it’s password-protected. I know, I was skeptical too. But when he flipped it open, there, on one of those thin, red, embossed labels, just above the TracFone logo, was JJ’s name. You can even tell how pre-occupied he was with Star Wars because in his hurry he spelled it Abrims.

Although I Will Want To Insure It
Google is shutting down their Google Compare service, which provided comparison shopping for credit cards, mortgages, and insurance. It’s just as well; it was worthless to me without a category for used celebrity cell phones.

Yahoo, Indeed
Magazine publisher Time, Inc (Time, Fortune, People, Sports Illustrated) is in talks to acquire Yahoo. The final sticking point seems to be Yahoo standing firm on its demand that a minimum twenty executives be permitted to attend the SI swimsuit photo shoot.

Who Do You Think Taught Mrs. Montgomery To Use Facebook?
Chicago public schools are going to require one computer science course be completed in order to graduate. That sound you hear is 300,000 kids laughing and thinking: They are going to teach us about computers? Great, can they teach us about fashion, too?

How About If We Throw In Some Floor Mats?
FoxConn agreed to acquire two-thirds of Japanese electronics firm Sharp for 700 billion yen. Then they found out that getting controlling interest in the company also meant getting 350 billion yen in debt, and put the deal on hold. This explains Sharp’s new slogan: Sharp: The “2006 Ford Taurus That Seems Like A Great Deal Until You Take It To Your Mechanic Who Says It’s Got A $3,000 Transmission Rebuild In Its Near Future” of electronics.

It’s A Start
Samsung is building 256GB chips for use in phones and tablets, allowing, for example, storage of up to 90,000 eight-megapixel photos. “That sounds impressive I guess,” said my wife, “but what do I do with the rest of this year’s cat photos?”

Shoppers Like You
Meanwhile, Samsung opened Samsung 837, a store in New York City that has art exhibits, cooking classes, musical performances… but no products on site for you to buy. If you’d like to actually purchase a Samsung product while in the Samsung store, an employee will help you order it online, presumably between verses of “Tomorrow” from Annie.

Asked her expectations for the store, one Samsung executive said, “We are intent on providing these cultural experiences for the general public. While we would, of course, welcome financial support from those partaking of our offerings, there is no oblig–oh my god, we’ve started a PBS station!”

Things About To Change As Printer Division Puts On Lucky Shirt
HP, Inc reported that revenue was down 12%, but considered this good news in that it wasn’t worse than expectations. “I get it,” said everyone who’s been to Vegas.

As Huntsville Goes…
Google Fiber announced that they will bring their gigabit internet service to San Francisco, the announcement coming just days after saying they’d be doing the same in Huntsville, Alabama, reinforcing San Francisco’s tech reputation as Huntsville West.

Who Knows Where The Hockey Stick Ends Up?
Robotics company Boston Dynamics posted a video of its humanoid Atlas robot picking up boxes and shelving them, refusing to be deterred even when a guy with a hockey stick repeatedly knocks the box from its grasp. When this guy knocks Atlas down onto its “face,” it is able to right itself. A still frame from this video–Atlas pushing up from a kneeling position–has been chosen as the source for the first in a new line of inspirational posters, with the familiar caption IT’S NOT WHETHER YOU GET KNOCKED DOWN, BUT WHETHER YOU GET BACK UP WITH THE FACIAL RECOGNITION DATA FIRMLY FILED AWAY SO THAT AFTER HOURS, WHEN THAT CLOWN WITH THE STICK IS WATCHING THE VIDEO WITH THAT GIRL FROM ACCOUNTING HE WANTS TO IMPRESS, YOU CAN FIND HIM AND TEAR OFF THE ARMS THAT HELD THE STICK AND BEAT HIM WITH THEM. Future variations will show a kitten hanging from each severed arm, because kittens sell inspirational posters.

Also, Our Friends At The FBI Have This iPhone They’d Like You To Look At
The Department of Defense funded Carnegie Mellon’s Software Engineering Institute to conduct research into ways to break Tor, software that enables anonymous communication. While this relationship was only now confirmed via information in a court order, eyebrows were raised last year during the theater department’s production of Annie Get Your Gun; We Finally Figured Out How To Track Down Those Guys You Were After.

 

Okay, clean the place up, rehydrate, get some sleep, and start on that Revenant-themed menu for the follow-up party.

 

Mike Range

@MovieLeagueMike

DTNS 2698 – Alexa All Over Your House

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comAmazon’s on a hiring spree for Echo and Alexa.Michael Wolf talks with Tom Merritt about Amazon’s smart home domination plans. Len Peralta is here to illustrate the show too!

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DTNS 2697 – Carpe Drone-um

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comHigh School students in Chicago will have to take a computer science class in order to graduate, starting with the fall freshman class. Is this the right way to promote tech literacy? Do we have enough teacher’s for this? Tom Merritt and Justin Young discuss.

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DTNS 2696 – Xamarin May Cause Invalid Page Faults

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comThe ad blocking wars pit your privacy and security agains publisher’s need to make money and a mobile ad panel at MWC turns heated. Tom Merritt and Scott Johnson discuss where the line should be.

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DTNS 2695 – Will VR break your hip?

Logo by Mustafa Anabtawi thepolarcat.comVirtual reality got a big boost from phone manufacturers and IBM’s Watson this week, among others. Patrick Beja and Tom Merritt sort through it all and try to make sense of it.

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Helping each other understand.