Apple vs. Epic Games in Epic Battle Over App Store Agreement

 

In a statement Apple has said it terminated the account of app developer Epic Games, the account which they use to publish and update App Store games.

This means the Epic games like, such as its Battle Breakers mobile RPG, won’t be available for download or updates any longer at the iOS App Store. These games sharing the same result Fortnite has faced for some weeks now. Like with defunct titles such as Infinity Blade the games cannot be redownloaded nor can users make sure of previously available in-app purchases.

Updates to Epic’s iOS apps has also ended. This means iOS Fortnite players cannot access the recent Marvel Comics themed content that Epic recently added to Fornite. Players of Fornite also cannot access crossplay, a feature that allowed them to play across phone platforms.

In there statement Apple again cited their complaint that Epic Games attempted to bisect the standard iOS payment platform in Fortnite and this is why they have terminated their account.

Apple’s decision to end Epic Game’s App Store account theoretically shouldn’t affect the development of their Unreal Engine for iOS. It is under development by Epic International and is separate account governed by a separate agreement. The account was also protected by a federal judge’s restraining order in anticipation of Apple’s “retaliation” against Epic Games.

 

Apple’s New Singapore Location “Floats”

Apple is planning to open a new Singapore store that appears to float on the water.

Located in a giant orb that looks like it is from the future (it lights up at night), the new store will be located on the waterfront of the city-state. The new store will be called Apple Marina Bay Sands—its name sake coming from the hotel complex it will be included in.

Apple hasn’t provided any official information except a brief marketing copy on its website. No opening date, no groundbreaking, no square footage info. Apple has two stores in Singapore already. One in Changi Airport another on Orchard Road.

Apple totes hundreds of stores worldwide where devotees buy and trouble shoot the companies wildly popular products: iPhone; iPad; Apple Watches; Mac computers and others.

Recently Apple became the first company from the United States to reach a $2 trillion valuation. Despite the pandemic their most recent quarterly report boasts an 11% increase.

 

BlackBerry Will Be Back in 2021

When we thought fully-touch screen phones had killed the popular BlackBerry it turned around and surprised us all as it is coming back.

BlackBerry, after ending its collaboration with TCL, has said they are parting with OnwardMobililty and FIH Mobile Limited to create a new smartphone with a physical keypad like the classic BlackBerry had.

In the first of 2021 we should start to see these new BlackBerry phones. Specific names and dates were not confirmed by anyone. OnwardMobility stated that along with the physical keypad the new BlackBerry smartphones will be 5G ready. They will also continue to run on Android.

They will come first to the North American and European markets. No word on whether the company will bring them to the ever-growing Indian tech market, however, all previous models have eventually made their way to India.

The upcoming BlackBerry smartphones are supposed to be “secure” and provide productivity without disabling the user experience they are known for.

Medical Supplies Delivered Autonomously From the Sky

Near Charlotte, NC drones—large ones with 11-foot wingspan—fly over neighborhoods, an interstate highway and a reservoir as fast as 63 mph arriving at Huntersville Medical Center.

When the drone arrives its compartment door opens and a parachute equipped package drops gently to the pavement below. This happens about 10 times a day. And after dropping its package the drone returns to the hospital distribution center.

Novant Health operates 15 hospitals in the area. This includes Huntersville Medical Center. Novant has any number of delivery choices but decided to test drones as they believe it will prove useful in future heath crises.

As delivering medical supplies will be more challenging following natural disasters or political unrest the drones may offer solutions for delivering supplies to places conventional vehicles cannot reach.

The FAA gave Novant Health a temporary waiver so they and Zipline, the startup operating the drones, could fly drones over people and beyond the visual range of the person responsible for the drone. Zipline’s drones are autonomous but are monitored by a human being.

U.S. business have been slow adopters of drone delivery as needed regulation has yet to be set. The U.S. has more crowded and complex air space than places where drone delivery is legal.

Zipline has been around 2016 and began their journey in Ghana. As of now they say they have delivered more than 110,000 medical items.

Why Are People Still Using Zoom?

Since the last time we mentioned Zoom, it seems there have been alerts put out there asking people to stop using it. There are numerous problems with it. Sure, it is probably the easiest meeting software for non-technical people to use but the security is what has people up in arms.

So what is the problem? There are a few. Even last summer they found there was software used to bypass security to be able to launch it in a few clicks. This also makes it easy for hackers to start webcams and watch users without them knowing. The other bad thing is this bug remained even after the user uninstalls Zoom. Apple has removed this component by issuing a force-deployed update to every Mac in the world.

There are other things. Zoom can use your private video calls and sell ads. What if you are using Zoom to speak with your therapist? What kind of ads will they be marketing?

Another thing that was “fixed” was the fact that Zoom was sending user info to Facebook. That has since been fixed in an update.

To see more about this:
OneZero.medium.com
Tidbits.com

Here is a light-hearted parody of the Zoom security issues:

Some Ways Covid-19 has Changed the World

There are too many ways to count how this pandemic has changed the world. Here in America, it is like life has come to a stand-still. Many establishments are closed including schools, churches, libraries, dine-in restaurants, to name a few. Sometimes while we wallow in our own self-pity, we forget how it is affecting others, especially children, teenagers, and college students who are missing once in a lifetime milestones. We want to talk about how tech can be used to help.

First, the high school seniors are missing out on prom. Some have taken the initiative to try to have a virtual prom on Instagram or TikTok.

One college in Japan is holding their graduation via robots. The robots, dressed in cap and gown, have the students faces via Zoom showing their faces where the robot faces would be.

Our church has been able to bring services weekly during this crisis by keeping band members at least 6 feet apart. We were streaming every week anyway so we had everything in place for this to begin with. Our small groups have all moved to using online virtual meetings using software such as Webex or Zoom.

There are also new cautions about using Zoom. You need to make sure your settings are set up correctly as it could be hacked. Meetings are being “Zoombombed” and intruders putting in awful posts and images.

Malwarebytes 2020 Report

We talked about Malwarebytes a few years ago. Back then, it was mostly PC users that worried about malware and exploits. Well, in their latest reports–surprise, surprise–Malwarebytes reports that in 2019, they saw a 400% rise in MAC exploits! That is a significant change from previous years.

Many of the malware items are called PUPs-Potentially Unwanted Programs. Many of them need to be quarantined. Malwarebytes scans for those as well as PUMs-Potentially Unwanted Modifications. For a PC, PUMs could be found either in the registry or in a browser setting.

Read the report (PDF)

Source

Contract for the Web

Do you realize there are many people who still cannot connect to the Internet? For most of us, all we need to do is pull out our cell phone and we are online. For those who cannot, there is a plan of action globally to try to ensure everyone a chance to connect.

This objective, spurred by Sir Tim Berners-Lee who implemented HTTP and is the founder of the World Wide Web Foundation and director of the World Wide Web Consortium, is to join governments, companies, organizations, and individuals in an effort to allow all people to be able to go online free from the fear, abuse, privacy violations we are seeing now.

Some of the principles:
Ensure everyone can connect to the Internet
Keep the Internet available all the time
Respect and protect online privacy and personal data
Make the internet affordable and accessible to all
Develop technologies that support the best in humanity while challenging the worst.
Create and collaborate on the Internet

You can also join in the contract by sharing your email to be updated.

Find out more

More on Pa$$w0rds

The Victor crew found this article about passwords. There have been so many breaches in recent history. There have been 13 big data breaches this year alone (so far).

This article breaks down why passwords really don’t matter in light of the way hackers are performing their breaches. It is from a Microsoft tech using stats collected from Azure Active Directory connected accounts. The data is broken down by type of attack and how they are performed.

Once you cut through all the techese, the bottom line is to choose passwords with at least 8 characters, use a password manager and let it generate the password for you, try using multi-factor authentication for that extra step.

Coming Soon: iPadOS

Last week we talked about changes coming to iOS 13. This week we will talk about the new iPadOS.

The new Safari browser will be more like a full Mac version but with touch. You can use a download manager, take a screenshot that will copy a whole page. There are new options in Photos to change a photo, how you want to group them, you can edit videos.

Files app works with USB drive and you will see all your cloud drives. You can use Sidecar mode on your Mac and use your iPad as a second screen.

In the Notes app, you can squeeze the keyboard when it shows up and it shrinks. You will be able to swipe to type by moving from letter to letter.

You can have widgets on your home screen.

They are still working out some bugs but it is due to come out this fall.

Trying out DuckDuckGo.com

Did you know there are other search engines besides Google? It seems with Google being all over the place, we forget that there are others. There are others we may have forgotten or didn’t even know such as bing.com, yahoo.com, dogpile.com, yippy.com, webopedia.com (focusing on technical terms), ask.com (may have previously been known as askjeeves.com), wolframalpha.com (computational intelligence), to name a few.

We are currently trying out DuckDuckGo.com. I’ve switched over to using it for a couple weeks now. The one lure is they are “… setting the new standard of trust online, empowering people to take control of their information.” They say your searches are always private. So what does that matter? DuckDuckGo

Have you ever searched for something just out of curiosity and then received all sorts of spammy email all about that subject? Just look at your spam mailbox and you may see many spam emails about your search phrase. This would happen especially when you aren’t using private browsing mode in your browser. And it’s not just emails. You will start to see what you searched for on websites and in apps as well.

DuckDuckGo has been around since 2008. You can even download their browser with privacy from your app store.

Gmail – some features

There are a few newer features added to Gmail in the past year or so that can be annoying to some, helpful to others.

Gmail NudgesOne newer feature is called Nudges. Do you forget to answer emails? Gmail can nudge you now to answer the email. I had noticed there was an older email (4 days old) that I wanted to wait to answer. All of a sudden the email was at the top again. In the subject line there was orange print that said “Received 4 days ago. Reply?” You can choose to reply or even “snooze” the email. If you snooze it, it will go into a new folder called “Snoozed”. This can be enabled or disabled in Settings.

“Smart Reply” is another newer feature. The first time I saw it, I was a little confused because I hadn’t read anything about it. These are the words that show up at the bottom of an email that allow you to choose a canned response. For instance, based on words in the email (yes that’s creepy), I’m looking an email that ends “How’s that sound?” and the canned response choices are: “Sounds good to me.”, “Sounds like a plan.”, and “Sounds great!” So I could choose any one of these quick replies. I can usually tell when I’ve gotten one of these from somebody. These Smart Replies can be enabled or disabled in Settings. This picture shows the instructions for disabled from your iOS device.

Another newer feature is the “Hover Actions” where you can hover over the email list and delete or label while in the list. This action can be enabled or disabled in Settings.

You can now add a split view to Gmail where you can see the list of mail on the site and a pane with email to the side or top of it (horizontal split or vertical split). If you have a wide screen, it makes it nice to work with.

Collection #2-5 Breach

Just a couple weeks after Collection #1 Breach was identified, there come Collection #2-5 Breaches. There are an estimated 2.2 billion unique accounts compromised in this breach.

The site we usually check for breaches (HaveIBeenPwned.com) has not been updated yet. In the meantime, you can use the Hasso-Plattner Institute’s tool to check. When you enter your email into this tool, it will email you a report of what has been found in a breach.

Once again, we want to stress that you use a password manager, use hard to type or guess passwords, use 2FA where available.

Gone Phishing

Phishing Quiz
You’ve gotten those emails asking to click on something. It could be to learn how to make more money, or maybe someone has your information, or something that really looks legitimate. They prey on people hoping to get more of your personal information.

Google’s Jigsaw unit has a phishing quiz. The Victor crew suggests you take it to see if you can spot some phishing emails/sites. It is only 8 questions long but it may help you be on the ball. You start out by making up a name and email for the quiz. Some are phishing and some are legitimate. See if you can spot the imposters:

Take the quiz

Source: Google Blog

Collection #1 Breach

There was a new breach found last week and reported by Troy Hunt on January 17, 2019. This one is a massive breach where a collection of emails and passwords of over 2.5 billion rows of combinations. There were over 1.1 billion of these as unique combinations found possibly due to emails being in both upper case and lowercase. There were a total of of over 700 million unique email address with passwords.

Perhaps you are no longer using a particular email that was found in the breach. Or maybe your password has been changed. Chances are you are or were a little lax about your passwords and re-used them on different sites.

You can use Troy’s site https://haveibeenpwned.com to check to see if your email has been found in any breaches. You can use this page to check to see if a password you are using has been in any breaches: https://haveibeenpwned.com/Passwords

We recommend you use a password manager and let it generate secure passwords for you. You would only have to remember that one password and can have access to all your passwords and sync them to your devices. Some managers even offer storage of sensitive documents.

Read Troy Hunt’s article here.

Does Google know more than you want them to know?

Google services on Android or iPhones can store your location data, even when you try to prevent it through your device settings.

Google Maps can make a timeline of your movements, for example. It works so well that last year a warrant was served by police in North Carolina to Google to find devices near a murder scene. You can turn off your location history so the places you go will not be stored.

If you are logged into Google, go to https://www.google.com/maps/timeline?pb to see your timeline or whether it is even on. You can turn the tracking of your history on or off here: https://myaccount.google.com/activitycontrols/location?hl=en&gl=US

This may not keep Google from tracking your movements through nearby towers but it is something more you can do to make it a little more difficult for them.

Source

Chrome Extension: PassProtect

There is a Chrome extension to help you pick better passwords. It is called PassProtect by okta. It will tell you right away if your password is in a list of data breaches. It doesn’t necessarily mean your username/email and password combination are in that list but if your password is already in a list of compromised passwords, you might want to rethink that password. You can add it to your Chrome browser.

They do not store or collect any information from you, they simply use the HaveIBeenPwned.com API to check against the list of known breaches. If you want to check a password on your own, you can check it here as well manually to see if it is in the list of breached passwords, because it is the same list. Hackers that have collected passwords will often use them to breach a site and try to guess people’s logins and if you are using a password from a breached list, and they know your email or username, you may find yourself hacked.

PassProtect

Windows Defender Browser Protection

There is an extension for the Chrome browser called Windows Defender Browser Protection. It extends your Defender protection to include your browser. It will keep you from accidentally clicking to phishing site. You can also turn the protection on or off. If you click to a link from an email it will help by reporting to you that the website is unsafe.

After you install it on your browser, you will see a small defender icon on the top of your browser. You can click it and then you will see the dropdown (shown below). You can turn on or off temporarily.

Windows Defender Chrome Addon

Get the extension for Chrome here.

Learn more about how it works from Microsoft.

Cryptocurrency Mining

Cryptocurrency is the term given to currency such as bitcoin, ether, or any of the other digital currencies out there. So how does this work?

Cryptocurrency runs on what is called a blockchain, a ledger or document that is duplicated over networks of computers. As this is updated, it is made available to the holder of cryptocurrency. Every transaction is recorded of every cryptocurrency. The blockchain is run by miners. Their computers tally up the transactions. They update the transactions and also make sure of the authenticity of the information received. In payment, miners are paid fees for each transaction. The buyers and sellers agree on the value of the cryptocurrency as it fluctuates.

The transactions are made peer-to-peer without a mediator like a bank. The buyer and seller do not know who the other is, but everyone in the blockchain knows about the transaction as they are made public.

If I wanted to buy something that costs $10,000, and find a seller that accepts cryptocurrency, I would try to find out the current exchange rate get the public cryptocurrency address, say bitcoin, and we would stay anonymous to each other. I would then have my Bitcoin installed to his computer, say 10 bitcoins rated at $1000 each. My bitcoin client would sign the transaction with his private key. The transaction would be verified and transferred and recorded.

Cryptocurrency mining includes adding transaction to the blockchain and releasing new currency. They use special computers, hardware and software, to do this. Lately they’ve taken to using browsers and apps for cryptomining. There is a javascript that they can add to your website. Sometimes they will let you know they are using this, sometimes not. When it was first used it didn’t generate that much money for the miners but now that bitcoin rates have increased, it seems there has been another surge with it.

Coinhive is an alternative to browser ad revenue. They have a javascript for people to put on their website. They are using your computer to mine the bitcoin. Mining takes a lot of power so they look for other ways to use it. A good ad blocker can prevent you from using some of these types of sites. I just got the message from my adblocker when trying to get to coinhive.com. It is used to mine a cryptocurrency called Monero. The owners of the site get 70% of the currency and Coinhive gets the rest. You may never even know it is taking place if you visit a site using this, except maybe your computer runs a little slower. Users with WordPress can even get a plugin for using Coinhive.

One month last year, Malwarebytes blocked 248 million attempts to borrow resources from the Coinhive script. Many of the sites using Coinhive are porn sites or heavily covered with ads anyway. A good antivirus or ad blockers can help. You can also turn off javascript from your browser. Download and use Opera which will block cryptocurrencies.

Coinhive cryptomining scripts were found recently in 19 apps in the Google Playstore. One of the apps had over 100,000 users. They have since been removed from the store.

Here are some of our source articles to find out more:
https://www.benzinga.com/
https://www.symantec.com/
https://www.pcmag.com/
https://www.bleepingcomputer.com/
https://thenextweb.com/

Has this ever happened to you?

You are browsing the Internet and maybe you look at some items and then it seems every where you go you are seeing the same things or related items that you just looked at. Maybe you abandoned a shopping cart or changed your mind about the purchase. Maybe you started filling out a form and stopped in the middle of it. They can’t possibly know what you typed, right? Or can they?

In an article by Motherboard.com, they cite a study done by Princeton University about boundaries. Or rather “No Boundaries.” How do you think Pinterest or Facebook or other social media sites get the information? There are sites such as FullStory that allow website owners to capture every keystroke a user makes. They use “session replay” scripts to capture what the customers are doing on their sites. You can see some of the major companies who use fullstory.com here.

Now more than ever it is important to read websites’ terms and conditions. They may collect things like medical conditions, personal data, credit card info. Passwords may even be “accidently” included in the data.

So what can you do? Run AdBlock Plus in your browser. According to the Princeton study, AdBlock has been updated to block all these scripts, thanks to the study.

This video shows FullStory capturing a user’s data as it is being entered into a form.

Terms of Use

A member of the Victor crew just finished a thriller book obtained through Amazon Prime’s KindleFirst program. It is called Terms of Use by Scott Allan Morrison. The premise is there is a social network called Circles. They undergo a cyber attack. Soon one of the workers is murdered and the main character, Sergio Mansour, uncovers evidence of a conspiracy but he has somehow become the suspect.

On the run with his new girlfriend, Malina, they try to figure out what is going on. Not knowing it in the beginning, Sergio finds out Malina’s sister was murdered and blames it directly on Circles. Not knowing who he can trust he works it out with Malina and they continue to find the truth.

The crux of the mystery is that what was found was “socialbots,” bots that parade as people and interact with people and learn using AI algorithms. The bots were going to be used in a bigger plot to sway people to vote for a certain president whose agenda was to bring the US to own over a third of the earth’s rare earth metals. Once in, a Chinese diplomat was going to blackmail him into not doing this as China would lose out a lot of their economy over this.

The scary part was reading about what the socialbots did. How many times do we “friend” someone that is a friend of a friend that we don’t know. That is how the socialbots got onto so many contact lists. You figure, hey they know them so they must be ok. Then the ideas from their feeds find their way onto your feed and can sway the population that easily. When people signed up, it was said their profile could be used in experimentation and since they clicked the button it was ok. How many of us read the terms of use pages, really? Something to think about.

Password security

We’ve talked about passwords before and yet it is such an important thing because of all the breaches we see. Some people say they don’t have anything that important so it doesn’t matter or they say they need to use the same password for everything.
This is a totally bad practice and attitude to have about this. Think about all your accounts where you have purchased items, or your banking or credit card accounts. Do you really want to use the same password for everything? Once they breach one account, say your email, they can look through that to find what other accounts you are subscribed to and have a field day. This is even how identities are stolen.

Here are some things you can do:
Go to HaveIBeenPwned.com and check your email for pwnage.
Also click on their password tab and check to see if your passwords are on any common lists.
Use a password manager like LastPass.
Use 2 step verification. Use an authenticator, too.

Once you download LastPass, set it up with a hard to hack easy to remember password (the first video below gives some suggestions on how to find one.) You can then import all the passwords saved to your browsers. Once you have LastPass you can also run a kind of audit check for recommendations on which passwords to change – it will show you duplicates or not so secure passwords you already have.

Firefox Quantum

Firefox just got faster. Two times faster. This past week, Firefox updated to Firefox Quantum (Version 57.0.) There are two versions – one for regular browsers and one for developers. It is built on a new engine for better and faster page loading. It also will use less memory than previously, and they say it is 30% lighter than Chrome.

It has built in privacy modes. You can block even hidden trackers by turning on tracking protection. When you block the ads and scripts that are bogging you down, the page loads even faster.

If there’s a page you want to see later, you can save it to Pocket to view later. There is a library where it will place these articles as well as your bookmarks. You can search with other search engines with just a click. You can also customize it with themes or placement of icons for your tools and addons. You can take screenshots without adding an extension – it’s built right in.

Whaling Attacks

We recently came across the term “whaling” so of course, we needed to know more about it. Here is what the Victor crew found out. It is a form of phishing aimed at high-profile business executives, managers, CEOs, etc. They are going after the “big fish.” The emails sent to them are more official looking and target a particular person. A regular phishing attack usually goes out to a lot of people trying to lure anyone. Whaling is also considered “spear phishing” where it is an attempt to target an individual person or company.

As with phishing, whaling is used to get a person to reveal sensitive information, such as login credentials, to an account. They do this by trying to scare the individual into giving this information up.

Whaling goes so far as to make a web page or email that looks like the legitimate one. You may even be enticed into downloading a program in order to view a page or to get your information. It may come in the form of a false subpoena, message from the FBI, or some kind of legal complaint against you.

Be aware of what you are clicking. If you can, hover over the link and see where it is taking you. Try putting the URL in an analyzer, such as VirusTotal or TrendMicro to see if it is safe. If in doubt, don’t click or download anything you are unsure of.

Other Uses for Social Media

Maybe you love, maybe you hate it but social media is here to stay. Many people used it as their lifeline during the past storm in Texas, known as Harvey. Many used Twitter or Facebook or Instagram to let people know they were in stuck and needed to be rescued. Still others used social media to let people know they were able to help.

The U.S. Coast Guard preferred for people to call them or 911 but people had trouble getting through. People even turned to Airbnb to offer their homes as shelters for those in need. The Hurricane Harvey Texas Rescue Facebook group offered ways to help those trapped or in need of rescue.