ExtraBITS for 11 April 2016
In ExtraBITS this week, since the FBI has admitted that its existing iPhone crack doesn’t work on newer models, the Justice Department is still pursuing court orders to force Apple to unlock encrypted iPhones. Beyond that ongoing story, an exploit could let your cable modem be knocked offline, your Netflix bill may be higher next month, Bill Atkinson offers insight into the Mac’s origins, and Macminicolo is merging with MacStadium.
FBI’s iPhone Hack Limited to Older iPhone Models — While the FBI has successfully cracked the iPhone 5c, you can breathe a sigh of relief if you own an iOS device with Touch ID. Speaking at Kenyon College in Ohio, FBI Director James Comey said, “We have a tool that works on a narrow slice of iPhones. The world has moved onto [the iPhone] 6s and this doesn’t work on 6s or on iPhone 5Ss.” The Guardian speculates that this is due to the Secure Enclave baked into Touch ID devices, which acts as a lockbox for sensitive information.
Justice Department Presses Apple in More Locked iPhone Cases — Despite the Justice Department backing down after finding a way to unlock the iPhone 5c connected to the San Bernardino terrorism case, the U.S. government is continuing efforts to compel Apple to unlock iPhones associated with a Brooklyn drug case and a Boston gang conspiracy. In the Brooklyn case, Magistrate Judge James Orenstein has already said that the Justice Department overstepped its authority in trying to use the All Writs Act of 1789. But in the Boston case, a federal judge
has directed Apple to assist the FBI. In short, it ain’t over till the Supreme Court rules.
SURFboard Cable Modems Vulnerable to Remote DoS Exploit — A vulnerability has been discovered in the popular line of Arris (formerly Motorola) SURFboard cable modems. The exploit allows remote attackers to reset the modems, knocking victims offline for up to 30 minutes — it’s a denial of service attack, not one that exposes personal information. The problem could be fixed with a firmware update, but unfortunately, there’s no mechanism that enables users to update their cable modems. Updates must be pushed out by Internet service providers, many of whom update only leased
modems, not those owned by customers. If you have one of these modems, talk to your ISP about an update.
You May See a Netflix Price Increase Next Month — If Netflix grandfathered you into the $7.99 per-month price for its Standard streaming plan, your monthly price will increase next month to $9.99. Netflix raised the monthly price for new subscribers to $8.99 in 2014 and then to $9.99 in 2015, but allowed existing customers to pay the old price for up to two years after the original increase. While the price hike is unfortunate, Netflix would still be a good deal at twice the price.
Bill Atkinson Discusses the Birth of the Mac — Bill Atkinson was a member of the original Macintosh team, developing concepts like the menu bar and the double click, as well as creating classic Mac applications like MacPaint and HyperCard. Atkinson recently sat down with TWiT’s Leo Laporte to discuss the development of the original Macintosh. The interview offers a lot of interesting tidbits, such as why Steve Jobs took control of the project from Jef Raskin.
Macminicolo Merging with MacStadium — Brian Stucki, founder of Mac mini server hosting company Macminicolo, has announced that his company is merging with MacStadium, another Mac-centric hosting company. He’ll remain president of Macminicolo and will serve as vice president of MacStadium.