Apple to Remove “Do Not Track” Feature from Safari

Apple is planning to remove the Do Not Track feature from the Safari web browser with the next major updates of macOS Mojave and iOS. With versions 10.14.4 and 12.2 of these operating systems, respectively, the Do Not Track feature will no longer be available.

Introduced in 2014, Do Not Track was added to Apple’s browsers and told websites that you didn’t want to be tracked, or have your web browsing followed across multiple sites. According to Apple, “it’s up to the website to honor this request.”

Do Not Track has proved to be essentially useless, as most websites simply ignore it. And, the existence of this feature can help trackers create a fingerprint of your web browser. This fingerprinting uses a number of variables in your browser and operating system to create what can be a unique profile capable of identifying you.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Why I Won’t Sell an iPhone on eBay Any More

For many years, I have bought new iPhones and sold the previous models. As a tech journalist, it’s useful for me to have the latest technology – even though I don’t do this every year – and I don’t want to accumulate old devices, like many of my friends who have “boxes of phones.”

I used to do this on eBay, but, when I tried to sell my iPhone 8+ recently, the experience was so bad that I will never do it again.

The first problem is that scammers hone in on iPhone sales pretty quickly. Each time I listed it – I’ll explain in a bit why I had to do this several times – I got emails like this:

hi i was wondering if you iphone 8 has been sold or not as I might be interested
my contact number is XXXX XXX XXX
regards
john

Often, the messages would give an email address, in the form username @ outlook dot com, so eBay’s filters wouldn’t catch them. And many of them used the same story, saying they needed to get one for their daughter’s birthday that week.

eBay seems to be very slow catching up to this. Generally it took a day or so before I got an email from eBay saying:

Our records show that you recently contacted or received messages from XXXXXXXX through eBay’s messaging system. We’re writing to let you know that an unauthorized third party may have compromised this member’s account security. It’s important to note that we’re unaware of any problems with your account. We recommend the following precautions to help keep you safe:

  • Don’t respond to offers to buy or sell an item from this user. The offer may be fraudulent, and the transaction won’t be covered by eBay.
  • Don’t respond to any messages you received from this user that appear to be a Second Chance Offer for an item you recently bid on.
  • Never pay for eBay items using instant cash wire-transfer services such as Western Union or MoneyGram. It’s against eBay’s Safe Payments Policy for a seller to request payment with these methods.

Most of these are new accounts – they weren’t “compromised” – which you can see by the low or zero feedback, and the join date on their pages. (Some may have feedback; scammers just buy a few cheap items to get some feedback on their accounts.)

I can understand how some people may fall for this scam, where the buyer pays you via PayPal, then claims that they never received the item, or, if you have sent it with a signature required, that it was broken. (And they’ll have photos of a broken iPhone to show.)

Another issue I had was people paying, then sending a strange looking address. In these cases, I just cancelled the order and refunded the person.

I’ve sold other items of value on eBay; I recently sold a Mac mini, and last year I sold an iMac, and never get this kind of email. I think it’s too much of a hassle for the scammers to try this for things bigger than a smartphone.

So when I bought the new iPhone XS Max last year, I moved over to Apple’s upgrade program. I won’t have to worry about selling old iPhones any more. As for the iPhone 8+, I traded it in to Apple; I got less than I would have from eBay (even after their fees), but there’s no hassle involved.

But that’s it. eBay has made itself far too dangerous to sell items like this. Knowing that in disputes they tend to side with the buyer automatically means I simply cannot trust the company to protect me.

Intego Mac Podcast, Episode 67: FaceTime, Facebook, Google, Shortcuts, Steganography, and More

Apple had a mean FaceTime bug; then they slapped down Facebook, and Google, for some underhanded app distribution. There are security risks using iOS Shortcuts, and there’s new malware using steganography.

Check out the latest episode of The Intego Mac Podcast, which I co-host with Josh Long. We talk about Macs and iOS devices, and how to keep them secure.

Facebook, Google Caught Deploying Invasive Apps; Apple Shuts Them Down

Facebook was found to have deployed apps to track user data and usage on iOS and Android, using a VPN app called “Facebook Research.” As TechCrunch reports, this app—which paid teenagers up to $20 a month to be surveilled—had root access to network traffic to be able to track all of the users’ activity. The app could collect private messages, emails, web browsing history, search history, and more as part of what Facebook calls Project Atlas, which was created with the goal of learning about new trends.

This app wasn’t available on the iOS App Store, however; it used a system called the Apple Developer Enterprise Program, which allows companies and developers to deploy apps privately. Users would download a profile to their devices which would allow the app to be installed. This is not uncommon, as many companies create apps for internal use, and don’t want to distribute them on the App Store. But in order to function on iOS devices, these apps still need to be installed with a developer certificate, which in this case was Facebook’s internal enterprise certificate.

When Apple discovered what Facebook had done—which is a clear violation of Apple’s developer account rules—Apple cancelled that certificate, effectively operating a kill switch to shut down the app. (Apple’s iOS devices check whether an app developer’s certificate has been revoked, and if it has, the app will no longer run.)

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Book Review – The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google

Four companies are at the top of the pyramid for technology and digital media: Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. Each one is very different, but there are many similarities that have helped these companies become so dominant.

Amazon’s reach is extraordinary, with 64 percent of people in the United States being subscribers to Amazon Prime. Apple, while far from being the leader in smartphones, commands one of the highest profit margins in the tech sector, currently around 38 percent. Facebook has two billion users, and four of the five most popular mobile apps are owned by the company. And Google owns 92 percent of the search market.

Much has been written about the successes of these companies, and of the unique qualities of their founders: Jeff Bezos, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Google’s Sergey Brin and Larry Page. And much has also been written about how these companies strategically created or took advantage of sectors where they could disrupt existing companies.

Scott Galloway, professor at the New York University Stern School of Business, and longtime entrepreneur, looks at these “four horsemen,” as he calls them, in his book The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google. In his book, he highlights many of the negative aspects of their business models, and their effects on society.

Read the rest of the article on The Startup Finance Blog.