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Apple products have a new ‘unpatchable’ security flaw in the Secure Enclave Chip: Report

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Apple products are known for the security that they provide to their users when it comes to privacy protection. However, like any other computer hardware or product, not everything is perfect or absolutely secure. According to a new report, it looks like hackers have uncovered a new exploit in a number of Apple products. Unlike the usual security exloits, this new flaw is likely hardware-based and therefore ‘unpatchable’. This means that Apple can’t fix the issue with the help of software updates. Let’s take a closer look at this latest security exploit in Apple products including its’ scope impact here.

Apple products have an ‘unpatchable’ security flaw; details

According to a report from 9to5Mac, hackers noted that this new exploit is present in the “Secure Enclave” chip. This is a security co-processor present on almost all Apple devices and deals with encrypting and protection of all sensitive data. The chip is one of the highlights for Apple products when it comes to security. As per the report, Apple encrypts all the data on an iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch, and other devices with “random private keys”. Secure Enclave chip is the only thing that can access all these keys to decrypt the data. As noted in the past, the company does not sync these keys with iCloud and they are specific to each device.

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In addition to the usual data on the device, this chip also stores more sensitive data. This includes all your passwords, credit card information, and biometric data for Face ID and Touch ID. The chip is inside the device so that no third party app has access to this data. It does not even matter if you are running a jailbroken device or an out of the factory software.

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As per the report, this is not the first time that we have seen a Secure Enclave-related explore. However, unlike the last time, Chinese hackers from the Pangu Team note that the exploit can break the encryption. The report notes that this security flaw is present in all the devices running chips between A7 and A11 Bionic. Apple has already fixed the exploit in A12 and A13 Bionic chips so newer devices are safe. It is worth noting that hackers need to have physical access to your device to work with the exploit.

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Tim Cook is now a billionaire, but not the Jeff Bezos kind

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A new analysis by Bloomberg finds that the net worth of Apple CEO Tim Cook has passed the $1 billion mark, officially making him a billionaire. It’s certainly an impressive number, but assuming it’s just over $1 billion, he’s got a long way to go before he catches up to the other CEOs on the Bloomberg Billionaires list. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, tops the list at $187 billion, followed by former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates at $121 billion, and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook at $102 billion. Tesla CEO Elon Musk is only No. 10 on the list, but even he is well ahead of Cook at $68.7 billion.

Yes, these are obscene amounts of money, and it’s difficult to comprehend how wealthy Bezos is (especially during a pandemic with a 10 percent unemployment rate and evaporating economic relief). Who cares? It’s a bunch of rich guys getting richer, right? Well, these are the guys — and the list is overwhelmingly men; the first woman on the list is Alice Walton at No. 16, with $57.1 billion — who run the world’s most valuable companies and influence our lives in myriad ways. As reporter Kashmir Hill has documented, it’s nearly impossible to completely extricate oneself from the economy that Google, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Apple have built.

Cook is a bit of an unusual case among the three comma club, though, because he didn’t found Apple, and it’s rare for any non-founder CEO to become a billionaire. But Cook arguably built Apple into the most valuable publicly traded company in the world, beating out Saudi Arabia’s state-owned oil company just this July. Cook worked his way up through the company and rebuilt its supply chain using “just-in-time” manufacturing principles, like reducing inventory, after Steve Jobs hired him away from Compaq to be Apple’s COO. By most accounts, Cook has taken a more measured, cautious approach than his predecessor, but Apple’s revenue and profit have both more than doubled since he became CEO.

How that legacy of Apple-building will hold up over time isn’t clear; at the moment, Apple and other companies with big manufacturing operations and customer bases in China are trying to determine how President Trump’s ban on some Chinese companies will affect them. But Apple is rolling right along for the time being; its recent third quarter earnings showed it’s thriving amid the pandemic that has gutted many other companies. In its third quarter, Apple had $59.7 billion in revenue, an 11 percent bump from a year ago. And it’s approaching a market cap of $2 trillion.

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Uber and Lyft ordered by California judge to classify drivers as employees

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A California judge ruled that Uber and Lyft must classify their drivers as employees in a stunning preliminary injunction issued Monday afternoon. The injunction is stayed for 10 days, however, giving Uber and Lyft an opportunity to appeal the decision. Uber said it planned to file an immediate emergency appeal to block the ruling from going into effect.

Uber and Lyft are under increasing pressure to fundamentally alter their business models in California, the state where both companies were founded and ultimately prospered. At issue is the classification of ride-hailing drivers as independent contractors. Uber and Lyft say drivers prefer the flexibility of working as freelancers, while labor unions and elected officials contend this deprives them of traditional benefits like health insurance and workers’ compensation.

In May, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, along with city attorneys of Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego, sued the companies, arguing that their drivers were misclassified as independent contractors when they should be employees under the state’s AB5 law that went into effect on January 1st. Becerra later filed a motion for a preliminary injunction that could compel the ride-hailing companies to classify drivers as employees immediately. AB5, which was signed into law last September, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” to determine if someone is a contractor or an employee.

“It’s this simple,” California Superior Court Judge Ethan Schulman wrote in his ruling, “Defendants’ drivers do not perform work that is ‘outside the usual course’ of their business. Defendants’ insistence that their businesses are ‘multi-sided platforms’ rather than transportation companies is flatly inconsistent with the statutory provisions that govern their businesses as transportation network companies, which are defined as companies that ‘engage in the transportation of persons by motor vehicle for compensation.’”

He added, “It also flies in the face of economic reality and common sense.”

Drivers’ groups hailed the ruling as forward progress in their fight to upend Uber and Lyft.

“Today’s ruling affirms what California drivers have long known to be true: workers like me have rights and Uber and Lyft must respect those rights,” Mike Robinson, a Lyft driver and member of the Mobile Workers Alliance, a group of Southern California drivers, said in a statement.

But Uber maintains this ruling will result in fewer jobs during a global pandemic that is putting strain on the state’s economic conditions.

“The vast majority of drivers want to work independently, and we’ve already made significant changes to our app to ensure that remains the case under California law,” an Uber spokesperson said. “When over 3 million Californians are without a job, our elected leaders should be focused on creating work, not trying to shut down an entire industry during an economic depression.”

A Lyft spokesperson agreed. “Drivers do not want to be employees, full stop,” the spokesperson said. “We’ll immediately appeal this ruling and continue to fight for their independence. Ultimately, we believe this issue will be decided by California voters and that they will side with drivers.”

Developing…

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Gogo is trying to sell its commercial in-flight internet business

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In-flight internet provider Gogo is trying to sell its commercial airline business as it continues to lose money during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company announced on Monday. CEO Oakleigh Thorne said on a conference call that the company has had “extensive discussions with multiple parties” and that he “feel[s] optimistic that a deal may happen.”

A sale would be a huge change of course for Gogo, which pioneered in-flight connectivity. But the attempted sale comes as Gogo, like many other businesses in the air travel industry, is struggling. The company, which provides in-flight connectivity to major airlines like Delta, United, and Alaska, lost $86 million on $96 million in revenue during the second quarter of 2020. Its sessions per day in the North American market dropped 91 percent, from 125,000 before the pandemic to just 11,000 in April, though the company says those crept back up to about 40,000 so far in August.

Making matters worse, Thorne said Monday that Gogo was also hurt by airlines retiring dozens of planes that are already equipped with its in-flight connectivity tech. (Gogo is not alone; Global Eagle, which handles in-flight Wi-Fi for Southwest Airlines, filed for bankruptcy last month.)

To cut costs, the company furloughed some 600 workers in April, slashed executive pay, and laid off another 143 in July — the majority of which were in the company’s commercial aviation division. Gogo applied for but did not receive around $230 million in funding from the government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The layoffs and other cost-cutting measures (like working with suppliers to renegotiate contracts) have helped generate “savings [that] should be adequate to tide us through the sunnier days,” Thorne said Monday on the call. But, he said, Gogo’s executives believe their job is to “realize the value” of both its commercial and business aviation businesses “for our shareholders.” Since the business aviation division has seen a faster rebound than the commercial division — and since Gogo has less competition there — Thorne said he believes the company’s commercial business would be better off if it was combined with a competitor.

“Gogo commercial aviation brings an attractive and unique set of assets” to any buyer, Thorne said. “We are really proud of the commercial aviation team and the tremendous capabilities they’ve built, and think it will have a bright future as part of a larger, more fully integrated entity.”

Gogo has spent the last few years developing satellite-based technology to both lighten the load on its strained air-to-ground network and to help keep pace with more vertically integrated competitors like ViaSat, which both makes satellites and sells connectivity to airlines. The company is also working on a 5G network that Thorne said is still slated to launch in 2021. Thorne didn’t lay out exactly what a sale would look like, and he declined to take questions about the talks that Gogo has already had.

“Everyone agrees that [in-flight connectivity] and commercial aviation is an attractive growth industry. Airlines are moving to free service, which will drive adoption, and OEMs and airlines are poised to drive more operational applications as the quality of in-flight broadband grows in the future,” Thorne said. “But for [in-flight connectivity] players to capture this attractive growth potential and drive innovation, the industry would benefit from fundamental changes through either horizontal or vertical business combinations.”

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