Archive for the ‘ iPad ’ Category


Which smartphone is the most secure?

Written by admin
December 25th, 2013

Not all mobile phone operating systems are created equal. As Spencer McIntyre of SecureState explains, there are unique differences and threats specific to each smartphone and, in the end, security is largely up to the user

These days, it is almost impossible to meet someone who doesn’t own a cell phone. More specifically, smartphones, whether it be the trendy iPhone, corporate favored Blackberry or modern Windows Mobile, almost everyone has joined the smart phone frenzy — and with good reason. A smartphone offers more advanced computing ability and connectivity than a contemporary phone.

Just like a handheld computer, most of the population relies on their operating system to multitask the demands of work, personal life and finances. However, many Smartphone users forget about the risks of malware on these crucial devices. In fact, a study from Rutgers’s University disclosed that malicious software for cell phones could pose a greater risk for consumer’s personal and financial well-being than computer viruses.

Clearly, there is a need for greater protection of cell phone software and greater awareness of cell phone vulnerabilities from owners, especially when it comes to what kind of operating system you are using. There are unique differences and threats specific to each Smartphone. Here are some important key points that consumers should consider to protect their mobile operating systems.

iPhone
There is a lot to be found regarding this popular device, half of our research findings surrounded the iPhone. Malware for this device took a different approach with the release of IOS 4. The multitasking that users take part in on their systems easily goes unnoticed, allowing the presence of malware to be easier to miss and less intrusive. Malware is more commonly found on iPhones that have been jail broken.

“Jail breaking” means freeing a phone from the limitations imposed by the wireless provider and in this case, Apple. Users install a software application on their computer, and then transfer it to their iPhone, where it “breaks open” the iPhone’s file system, allowing you to modify it; however, this also opens it up to malware. By jail breaking a phone, users are possibly allowing malicious applications into their device which has access to their personal information including their bank account. These applications are not subjected to the same limitations as Apple and therefore are easier to get from a rogue reference and infect cell phone.

Additionally, by not changing the password on a jail broken iPhone, the SSH service, is easy for malicious attackers to create worms used to infect the users operating device. An example of how important this threat is to note was highlighted by Ike, a worm created to raise security awareness when it comes to using these jail broken devices. It illustrates how once the core app has run its route, the vulnerability can gain complete control of the system.

Apple is slow to pinpoint vulnerabilities, including the SMS (texting) exploit released in the summer of 2010 by Charlie Miller. This also revealed that Apple is so slow to release that third party organizations were able to produce a security patch before Apple.

Windows Mobile
When it comes to threats, Windows Mobile takes the cake when it comes to attracting malware via SMS. Specifically the amount of SMS malware found on Windows Mobile devices is much higher in comparison to others. An interesting facet of the Windows Mobile OS is that many of the system calls are shared with it’s full-featured desktop counterparts. This detail has contributed to many pieces of malware that have originated on the Windows OS being ported to the Windows Mobile OS. A noteworthy example of this is the Zeus botnet that in recent years has begun to appear on mobile versions of Windows.

BlackBerry
A popular alternative to the previous two mobile operating systems, the BlackBerry is also quite different from the typical smart phone. The BlackBerry uses what is arguably the most closed source of the operating systems discussed herein. Research In Motion, the developers of BlackBerry have done an excellent job of keeping the sensitive inner workings of this smart phone a secret from the public. This is a contributing factor for the relatively small number of reliable exploits for the BlackBerry smart phone.

BlackBerry also suffers from the multitasking concerns that make it easier for malware to run unnoticed. An interesting proof of concept developed for the BlackBerry is the BBProxy application that was presented at DEFCON.

Symbian
There is not a lot of information regarding malware for this operating device, although it is the oldest of the smart phones and one of the most popular outside of America. Windows, Blackberry and Symbian are malware populated and not present on Android or iPhone. Along with the Windows Mobile family of Phones, Zeus has be ported the Symbian as well. The mobile version of Zeus is being used to intercept text messages sent as the second factor of authentication in many services.

Android
The Android operating system is the only open source operating system discussed herein. Android is unique in that it is community driven. The Android operating system is not owned by an individual organization, so it is developed in the best interest of the users. However, the applications are not monitored for vulnerabilities in the marketplace, so anyone can submit applications containing malicious functions which are less likely to be caught. Essentially, it is up to the users to determine if it is a safe and reputable source from which they are getting the app.

Amazon now has a 3rd party market place, which imposes additional policies and restrictions on applications that are distributed.

Android is based on the Linux operating system. On Linux, availability on Android is unlike others and there is not much evidence of ported malware. This is not because there is not any known Linux malware out there, but because it doesn’t receive much attention.

In Conclusion
All operating systems have distinct strengths and weaknesses; however, many are the same and essentially are up to the user and the configuration of the password. Users need to remember not to install apps from unnecessary sources, especially if they are unknown. While users can’t know them all, users need to ensure that they are from a reputable source. If not, that is where malware commonly comes from, with backdoor apps masquerading as secure applications. Also, jail broken phones are at a huge risk if the user maintains the default password and an even higher risk if not used in the Apple marketplace. Instances of malware exist on all of the phones and are even more relevant on ones using untrusted app sources. Consumers can keep this research in mind when using their smartphone to best protect their valuable information.


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5 Things Microsoft Surface Must Do to Beat the iPad

Written by admin
October 22nd, 2012

5 Things Microsoft Surface Must Do to Beat the iPad
The Windows ship is leaking in a dozen places, pierced beneath the waterline by very pointy iPads. Where the Mac never really made a dent in Microsoft’s PC hegemony, the iPad is doing so: it’s being handed to children as a first computer, appearing in schools, and running point-of-sale systems for small businesses. If you consider the iPad a PC, then Apple’s the No. 1 PC maker, according to research firm Canalys.

That makes the iPad public enemy number one for Microsoft if it intends to maintain its PC leadership, and the new Surface tablet is Microsoft’s primary weapon. Surface comes in two versions. The Windows RT version matches the iPad on price, but has relatively few apps; all the same, this will be the model at which most consumers look. The more-expensive Windows 8 “Surface Pro” version will run existing business software.

I hate calling things a “such-and-such killer,” but Microsoft needs to at least slow the iPad penetration of iPads in business and claim a part of the consumer market. How can the company do that? Here are five paths to take.

Developers, developers, developers. Windows RT has fewer than 3,000 apps. The iPad has 250,000. Microsoft needs to beg, borrow, or steal to pump up the app count for RT. Fortunately, the company has plenty of experience with this – it’s managed to nurture more than 100,000 apps for Windows Phone even with that platform stuck in single-digit market share. Bring that experience to bear with the Surface and apps should ramp up nicely.

Bring Xbox to Windows RT. XBox is Microsoft’s most beloved consumer brand. And unlike the PS Vita and Nintendo DS, the Surface has enough horsepower to run pretty good approximations of Xbox games. Microsoft needs to bring as much of the Xbox experience as possible to the Surface. Once again, the company has done a pretty good job of this with Windows Phone, and it can do an even better job with the more powerful hardware here.

Reclaim Ground With Small Businesses. Small businesses are increasingly moving to iPad-based point-of-sale, order-taking and management systems. This major disruption has been brought on by Square and its ilk, and it’s cannibalizing the stodgy old world of retail business systems. Square’s Jack Dorsey has hinted at a Windows Phone app coming, but Square isn’t the be-all and end-all of small business systems. Microsoft needs to seize the day with custom Surface packages with hardware and software priced competitively to iPad solutions for different small business categories such as retail, real estate, and transportation.

Be Enterprise’s Best Friend. IT managers love a good relationship, and Apple has been cozying up to formerly PC-only shops, explaining to them how they can replace virus-prone, heavy PCs with light, secure iPads. Microsoft still has the infrastructure to take this back. Make sure that Surface RT can be managed with the same tools as enterprise Windows 8 installations, and then promote it as something that has all of the advantages of the iPad with more familiarity for Windows-friendly IT departments. If Microsoft wants to lean on SkyDrive, it needs to be enterprise-ready and secure enough for financial and legal firms.
Make Other Tablets Look Like Toys. Microsoft Office is the Surface’s greatest strength. It must integrate perfectly with the Office used on desktops, both from a user perspective (with even complex formatting intact, and features like version-tracking working properly) and from an infrastructure perspective (working with secure servers, domains, and policies.) Microsoft Office is, for better or worse, the backbone of American commerce. If Microsoft can make the Surface look like the only truly serious tablet, then it has a solid chance.

 


 

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Ten years ago Microsoft released its Tablet PC, with Bill Gate saying “within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America.” Things didn’t work out that way — the

Tablet PC died, and the iPad eventually took the world by storm. What went wrong?

Gates showed off a prototype of Microsoft’s Tablet PC at the COMDEX Fall 2001 computer show in Los Vegas. Manufacturers including Acer, Compaq, Fujitsu, and Toshiba said they would release Tablet PCs in the second half of 2002.

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Here’s how a Microsoft press release described the Tablet PC:

The size of a legal notepad and half the weight of most of today’s laptop PCs, the Tablet PC is a full-powered, full-featured PC that runs Windows XP and combines the power of desktop computing with the flexibility and portability of a pen and paper notepad.

It was touted to run Autodesk’s CAD software, versions of Microsoft Office, and Groove, collaboration software which Microsoft bought from Ray Ozzie, the creator of Lotus Notes. The press release also noted that in his presentation, Gates:

emphasized that because it runs Windows XP, the Tablet PC is a fully-fledged, secure Microsoft .NET client machine that natively supports the .NET Framework.

All that tells you all you need to know about why the Tablet PC died. Rather than envision what people would really want to do with a tablet and then design the hardware for that, Microsoft instead force-fit Windows XP onto it. Windows XP was a great desktop operating system, but it was bloated overkill for a tablet.

Microsoft also decided that people would want to do the exact same things with a Tablet PC as they would with a desktop or a laptop. Here’s what Gates said at the announcement:

“The Tablet takes cutting-edge PC technology and makes it available wherever you want it, which is why I’m already using a Tablet as my everyday computer. It’s a PC that is virtually without limits — and within five years I predict it will be the most popular form of PC sold in America.”

Because Microsoft envisioned it as a full-fledged PC and equipped it accordingly, it was expensive — typically $2,000 or more. Despite that price tag, it couldn’t really replace a desktop or laptop. It only found use in niche markets.

There were other problems as well. As TabTimes notes, the heavy use of a stylus was also a mistake.

Steve Jobs recognized that the tablet should be a consumer device and not a replacement for a desktop or laptop PC. He saw that it would require a different operating system, one designed for tablets, not traditional computers.

Will Microsoft learn from its mistakes when it releases tablets based on Windows 8? It’s not quite clear yet. The Windows 8 metro interface is well-suited for tablets, although the Windows 8 Desktop isn’t. If Windows 8 tablets are essentially hybrid tablet-PCs, it’s unlikely they’ll succeed.

iPhone 4S battery issue reminiscent of ‘antennagate’

Written by nancy@freetrainingkey.com
November 1st, 2011

commentary Apple’s silence on a problem that appears to be affecting a number of iPhone 4S users is bringing back memories of last year’s “antennagate,” something that could give hope to those expecting a fix.

As noted last week, users have flocked to Apple’s support site to complain about lower than advertised battery life on the new phone, which went on sale in mid-October.

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On paper, the new phone beats out its predecessor by one hour of 3G talk time, yet falls 100 hours shorter when it comes to standby–the time a phone will continue to run when not being used for phone calls or other functions. But affected users say Apple’s numbers are far too generous, with fully charged devices running out of juice during the course of a workday, even with minimal use.

Despite what’s now a 170-page support forum thread (among several others like it 1, 2, 3), and a number of media stories on the matter, Apple has refrained from weighing in to users or to press.

Why is that? Look no further than what happened when users took aim at the iPhone 4’s antenna design last year. Owners posted videos holding the phone tightly, showing that it would eventually lose some reception, something that was criticized as being a hardware flaw. Apple did not weigh in on the matter for three weeks, deciding instead to hold a press conference to address what had been dubbed “antennagate” with a sea of data to show that other phones had similar issues.

Is it too soon to classify Apple’s lack of reaction this time around to what happened last year around the iPhone 4 antenna? Not necessarily.

First off, this is affecting some users with the iPhone 4 as well as those with Apple’s newer iPhone 4S. In those cases it can be assumed that the culprit is iOS 5, a major software release Apple put out just ahead of the iPhone 4S hitting shelves that adds on a number of new features to the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 hardware.

So does that mean the software is half-baked? The run up to its release would suggest otherwise. Apple spent a considerable amount of time in near-public testing before delivering it to users (seven beta versions for developers, in fact), all inside a four-month span. That said, it’s not without some bugs.

Looking at the iPhone 4S specifically, it’s easy to wonder if it’s the hardware that’s slurping the battery life away. New to the 4S is a dual-core processor, a first for an iPhone, though not a first for an Apple device, with the iPad 2 jumping to Apple’s A5 processor earlier this year. A teardown by iFixit shortly after the iPhone 4S’ release showed it to be the very same processor that’s in the iPad 2, though running at a lower speed to save energy.

Does that really hold up as something to point a finger at though? During Apple’s iPhone 4S unveiling, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, suggested otherwise, saying the company had not only matched the battery life of the previous model but beaten it in some cases. “You would think if you put a processor that powerful inside a super thin phone, one of the things you’re going to trade off is battery life. But the hardware and software teams have worked really hard to get industry leading battery life as well,” he said.

Then again, if a report in the The Guardian last week is to believed, Apple engineers have been contacting some unhappy iPhone 4S users who had weighed in on the growing support thread about the issue, all in order to collect relevant phone usage logs. In a follow-up over the weekend, the outlet then suggested that the problem had to do with turning off an automatic time zone setting that was pinging for location data non-stop. Yet users who read CNET’s own coverage of that fix, and a number of users on Apple’s forums said that didn’t help.

What’s next?
Looking back at what Apple did to handle both the iPhone 4 antenna issue in 2010, as well as the location collection log that researchers highlighted earlier this year, one thing becomes clear: if it’s going to be addressed, there’s going to be data crunching on Apple’s end to either back it up or debunk it. As late Apple co-founder, then chief executive officer Steve Jobs said at the antenna press conference last year (emphasis mine):

“We heard about this not long after we started shipping just 22 days ago from today. It’s not like Apple’s had its head in the sand for 3 months on this guys, it’s been 22 days. Apple is an engineering-driven company. We’ve got some of the finest scientists and engineers here in the world in the areas were need to create our products. And the way we work is we want to find out what the real problem is before we start to come up with solutions. So we’ve been working our butts off for the last 22 days to understand what the real issues are here, so that we can come up with real solutions.”

That sentiment was echoed again in April this year, when all eyes turned on Apple to explain what it was doing with a collection of unencrypted location data that was being stored on iOS devices. In an interview with All Things D, Jobs said:

“We’re an engineering-driven company. When people accuse us of things, the first thing we want to do is find out the truth. That took a certain amount of time to track all of these things down. And the accusations were coming day by day. By the time we had figured this all out, it took a few days. Then writing it up and trying to make it intelligible when this is a very high-tech topic took a few days. And here we are less than a week later.”

In both cases Apple issued a software update to address the issue at hand shortly after acknowledging it publicly. Looking back on the release of the iPhone 4, it took Apple less than a month to release the first iOS software update for that device, which arrived as a patch of sorts to change the way the phone displayed carrier signal strength. For the location database it was two weeks for a fix that would remove the data store outright every time a user turned location services off.

So that brings us back to now. Will we get a similar software update for any battery issues? History would suggest that’s the case if it affects a big enough group of users. In those two aforementioned cases it was everyone with an Apple device, which does not seem to be the case with this latest issue. Could there still be a problem though? A 170-page thread on the matter, and reports of Apple contacting users about it for more data suggests so. Just don’t expect a press conference about it if there’s a fix in store.

The iPad goes to war

Written by admin
July 8th, 2011

iPads and other ‘consumer’ tablets are becoming standard tools in the battlefield — and may migrate to other high-stress work

Accelerating “consumer” technology adoption in “hardened” environments
The consumerization of IT affects the military just as much as it does other businesses. Certainly, PCs made the transition into the military, but iPad adoption — a year after its release, it’s a key part of ongoing warfare systems — is remarkably fast. And there’s no reason other tablets couldn’t be used in the way the iPad is, Delay notes; it had a year’s head start on its competitors, so companies like Harris took advantage of its existence. In fact, the U.S. Army is looking to adapt Android smartphones for soldiers’ use.

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One reason I believe the iPad found itself so quickly in tatical battlefield use is that Apple intentionally designed the tablet to work in a wide range of environments, short-circuiting the usual slower transition of consumer-grade technology into “hardened” environments like hospitals, police cars, factory floors, and battlefields. And the FAA recently certified iPads for use in airliner cockpits to replace paper manuals. Although Apple’s public face is about the consumer, its army of engineers and designers have visited most large companies to get feedback on the iPad’s design (hardware and software), and Apple has a unit dedicated to aiding government — including military — use of its products in Virginia.

Uncle Sam is looking at using app stores — maybe businesses should, too
Beyond the iPad, the military is looking at another Apple-inspired trend that many businesses are hoping won’t happen: the app store. Delay says that all branches of the armed services are looking at how to deploy app stores for use by their civilian and military personnel for iPads, Androids, and more.

My suspicion: The military sees a benefit to having a central, network-accessible location for application distribution to people anywhere there’s an Internet connection. Perhaps businesses should start thinking about this benefit as well and reassess the model of the centralized system image.