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ExtraBITS for 10 November 2014

In ExtraBITS this week, the EFF announces that Apple leads the pack in mainstream messaging security, a developer tells us what to expect out of Apple Watch apps, Apple quickly shuts down a strain of Chinese malware, Rob Griffiths bids adieu to Mac OS X Hints, and Microsoft Office and Dropbox will soon be fully integrated.

EFF: Apple Offers Best Mainstream Messaging Security — The Electronic Frontier Foundation has released a scorecard measuring the security of online messaging systems. “Apple’s iMessage and FaceTime products stood out as the best of the mass-market options, although neither currently provides complete protection against sophisticated, targeted forms of surveillance,” the EFF said in a press release. The two areas where iMessage and FaceTime lost points were in helping users verify contacts’ identities and making the code open to independent review.

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What to Expect from Apps for the Apple Watch — Developer David Smith has studied Apple’s publicly available information about the Apple Watch to get an idea of what kind of apps we can expect. He realized that there will be a two-phase rollout of the WatchKit APIs developers need to write apps. The first phase will allow apps to create limited actionable notifications and Glances, which will function much like notifications and widgets in iOS 8. Developers will be able to start creating phase-one apps this year, whereas the second phase, which promises fully native apps, will begin sometime
later next year, likely at WWDC in June 2015.

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Apple Shuts Down Chinese WireLurker Malware — Apple has quickly shut down the WireLurker malware, which was spreading to Chinese iOS devices via infected Macs (it requires a wired connection between the Mac and the iOS device). WireLurker, which was localized to China, was discovered by Palo Alto Networks. Apple quickly unsigned the code, preventing non-jailbroken iOS devices from being infected. However, researchers warn that the code could be modified for a future attack.

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An Unofficial Goodbye to Mac OS X Hints — Although it’s not officially dead, founder Rob Griffiths is saying goodbye to Mac OS X Hints, which hasn’t been updated in over 45 days. He began the site over 14 years ago, then sold it to Macworld in 2006, where he stayed to maintain the site until 2010. Griffiths doesn’t blame mismanagement for the site’s decline, but instead chalks it up to the maturation of OS X.

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Dropbox Is Coming to Office — If you use Microsoft Office, but have been frustrated by its lack of support for Dropbox, your frustration is almost at an end. Soon, you will be able to open Dropbox files from within Office and edit Office files in the Dropbox app. Dropbox also plans to integrate its Web site with Office Online next year.

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