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ExtraBITS for 14 December 2015

In this week’s collection of ExtraBITS links, account data for 13 million MacKeeper users was accidentally published online, Apple revealed its favorite apps of 2015, the FBI continues to ramp up its war on encryption, and Josh Centers discussed his new living room setup with The Tech Night Owl. New this week — an extra helping of editorial commentary!

MacKeeper Account Data Found Online -- White-hat hacker Chris Vickery discovered data for over 13 million MacKeeper accounts via a simple Shodan.io search. Vickery said that no exploits were involved and the data was published to the open Web by MacKeeper’s developers. Payment information was reportedly not at risk, and the utility’s current owner, Kromtech, says that the vulnerability has been fixed. Nevertheless, we recommend avoiding MacKeeper like the plague — it does nothing unique, has a questionable past (and present, it seems), and is difficult to uninstall (the Macworld article links to instructions).

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Apple’s Favorite Apps of 2015 -- Over at MacStories, Federico Viticci has helpfully collated Apple’s Best of 2015 lists. The Mac app of the year is Affinity Photo, which some App Store reviewers say is better than Adobe Photoshop. Surprisingly, Apple’s iPhone app of the year is Periscope, Twitter’s live video-streaming app, which hasn’t appeared on our radar after the initial buzz wore off. The iPad app of the year is The Robot Factory, which lets kids play with and build robots. Apple’s top pick for the Apple TV is HBO Now, which is also a bit surprising, but HBO’s new Apple TV apps are great. Finally, the Apple Watch app of the year is the weather app Dark Sky, arguably the most useful app on the watch. Read on at MacStories to see all of Apple’s favorite apps of 2015 — there are quite a few more categories for the iPhone and iPad.

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The FBI’s War on Encryption Continues -- The FBI continues to pressure tech companies to provide backdoors to their end-to-end encryption schemes. In a recent Senate hearing, FBI Director James Comey said, “We see encryption is getting in the way of our ability to have court orders to gather information we need.” Unfortunately, as all security experts pointed out, it would be impossible for Apple to offer the FBI a backdoor to its iMessage encryption without it also being exploitable by individual hackers and foreign governments. In a stance that boggles the mind for its unholy mixture of ignorance and insanity, Comey now insists that allowing backdoors is not a technical problem, but a business model issue, and he hinted that such companies should change their business models.

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Josh Centers and The Tech Night Owl Talk about TVs and Apple Watches -- Managing Editor Josh Centers once again joined host Gene Steinberg for The Tech Night Owl Live podcast. In this edition, they talk about Josh’s new living room setup, his disappointment with the Apple Watch, and rumors surrounding the Apple Car.

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