Weekend news round-up: iOS 7 security glitches; LinkedIn gets sued

23 Sep 2013

In our round-up of the weekend’s tech news, an iOS 7 security bug has emerged that lets anyone make calls from locked iPhone screens; LinkedIn is being sued by customers who allege the social networking site for professionals hacked their external email accounts; BlackBerry co-founder Mike Lazaridis is attempting to buy back the company; and a letter from the US National Security Agency (NSA) to workers finds its way into the public.

Another iOS 7 bug in the wild

Forbes reported that another iOS 7 security bug has emerged that lets anyone make calls from locked iPhones – and that this one has no fix.

Referring to a tip-off from a 27-year-old living in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Israel, Forbes reported: “Anyone who gets physical access to a locked iPhone running iOS 7 can simply tap ‘Emergency’ on the lock screen, which brings up an emergency calling screen. Then he or she can dial any number and rapidly tap the call button until the phone reverts to an empty screen with an Apple logo at the centre and make the call to that number.”

LinkedIn being sued over alleged email hacking

Bloomberg reported that professional networking site LinkedIn is being sued by customers who allege the company appropriated their identities for marketing purposes by hacking into their external email accounts and downloading contacts’ addresses.

“The customers, who aim to lead a group suit against LinkedIn, asked a federal judge in San Jose, California, to bar the company from repeating the alleged violations and to force it to return any revenue stemming from its use of their identities to promote the site to non-members,” according to a court filing.

“LinkedIn’s own website contains hundreds of complaints regarding this practice,” they said in the complaint filed 17 September, which also seeks unspecified damages, Bloomberg reported.

BlackBerry co-founder wants to buy the company back

According to The New York Times, the co-founder of BlackBerry Mike Lazaridis is understood to be plotting to buy the company back and has been in discussions with venture capital firms to bid for the company, which last week announced 4,500 layoffs and close to US$1bn in operational losses.

“Lazaridis has separately approached the Blackstone Group and the Carlyle Group about making an offer, according to people familiar with the matter. These people cautioned, however, that the talks were preliminary and might not lead to any bids.”

The potential of any effort to take BlackBerry private was muddied further on Friday, as shares in the company tanked after the company announced quarterly revenue far below analyst expectations. BlackBerry shares listed in the United States plunged 17.1pc to US$8.73.

BlackBerry working on BBM for Android and iPhone update

Whatever shape BlackBerry takes in the future, that future no doubt includes its fabled BBM messaging service and over the weekend BlackBerry engineers assured fans via the official BlackBerry blog that an update for the iPhone and Android version of BBM is in the works.

“The interest and enthusiasm we have seen already – more than 1.1m active users in the first eight hours without even launching the official Android app – is incredible. Consequently, this unreleased version caused issues, which we have attempted to address throughout the day.

“Our teams continue to work around the clock to bring BBM to Android and iPhone, but only when it’s ready and we know it will live up to your expectations of BBM. We are pausing the global roll out of BBM for Android and iPhone. Customers who have already downloaded BBM for iPhone will be able to continue to use BBM. The unreleased Android app will be disabled, and customers who downloaded it should visit www.BBM.com to register for updates on official BBM for Android availability.”

Letter from NSA to extended family intercepted

A letter from the NSA to all of its employees, affiliates and contractors to reassure them that it is not engaged in illegal surveillance activity has found its way into the media, according to a post on Firedoglake.

Signed by NSA director-general Keith Alexander and deputy John Inglis, the letter says: “Some media outlets have sensationalised the leaks to the press in a way that has called into question our motives and wrongly cast doubt on the integrity and commitment of the extraordinary people who work here at NSA/CSS (Central Security Service) – your loved one(s). It has been discouraging to see how our agency frequently has been portrayed in the news as more of a rogue element than a national treasure.”

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