Weekend news round-up: Apple gets hacked; so too does the SIM

22 Jul 2013

Our trawl through the top tech stories of the weekend reveals Apple’s developer website was hacked last week, as well as the trusty SIM card, leaving potentially millions of users open to attack. UK Prime Minister David Cameron is about to get very tough on the issue of child abuse imagery hosted on ISPs’ servers and no doubt other nations will follow suit.

Apple developer site hacked

Apple confirmed its developer website was hacked by an “intruder” last week and, according to AllThingsD, cannot deny it was possible the hacker accessed names, mail addresses and email addresses.

“The company just sent developers an email explanation, after pushing them off for the past three days with notices that the developer site was down for maintenance.

“It appears that the potentially vulnerable names and addresses had not been encrypted. By contrast, Apple says developers’ ‘sensitive personal information’ was encrypted, so it has not been accessed.

Before it reopens the developer site, “Apple is completely overhauling our developer systems, updating our server software, and rebuilding our entire database,” the email said.

Cameron to instruct ISPs to block child abuse images

In a move that ought to be followed up in Ireland, the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron is to instruct ISPs they have a “moral duty” to do more to prevent the spread of child abuse images on their servers.

According to The Guardian, he will also warn Google and others of legislation if they fail to block “sick and malevolent terms.”

“In a major speech on Monday he will call for search engines to block any results being displayed for a blacklist of terms compiled by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

“The government has been involved in negotiations with technology firms over the best way to crack down on child abuse and the main service providers have agreed to introduce ‘splash pages’ that tell people if they are attempting to view illegal images.

“But the prime minister will call on firms to go further, with splash screens warning of consequences ‘such as losing their job, their family, even access to their children’ as a result of viewing the content.”

SIM cards have been finally hacked

Forbes reported that SIM cards, up until now believed to be impervious to hacking attempts, have finally been hacked.

“Yet after three years of research, German cryptographer Karsten Nohl claims to have finally found encryption and software flaws that could affect millions of SIM cards, and open up another route on mobile phones for surveillance and fraud.

“Nohl, who will be presenting his findings at the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on July 31, says his is the first hack of its kind in a decade, and comes after he and his team tested close to 1,000 SIM cards for vulnerabilities, exploited by simply sending a hidden SMS. The two-part flaw, based on an old security standard and badly configured code, could allow hackers to remotely infect a SIM with a virus that sends premium text messages (draining a mobile phone bill), surreptitiously redirect and record calls, and – with the right combination of bugs – carry out payment system fraud.”

Mozilla to demonstrate its mobile muscle

Internet browser and OS creator Firefox is very serious about its role in mobile. So much so that it is planning an aggressive quarterly feature release and schedule with security updates every six weeks, according to The Next Web.

“The three-month feature release cycle is the real game-changer. While mobile operating systems are certainly refreshed more often than their desktop counterparts (although one could argue Microsoft is trying to adapt with Windows 8.1), the rate is no faster than about a year. Cutting that number into four will be no easy feat.

“Despite this promise, Mozilla was smart not to give a specific date, so it can adjust its schedule as things go. It’s thus not clear when exactly we can expect Firefox OS 2.0. If we choose to use July 9th, the day the first Firefox OS devices hit stores, as the base, then we’ll likely see a security update in August, another one in September, and the first version bump in October.”

Security breach image via Shutterstock

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John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years