AWT News Update: February 9, 2016

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It's National Pizza Day in the USA, which has nothing to do with anything, but it's good to know...and it's also Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) and Mardi Gras! We have Apple stories for you today from around the globe:

  • Irish hackers are willing to pay for Apple employee user IDs and passwords
  • Apple's looking for a watch face engineer
  • Russia is playing hardball with American tech companies

The text of today's podcast is below, and video can be viewed here.

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for February 9, 2016.

Hackers in Ireland are taking a new tack in terms of trying to get into Apple’s internal network: paying employees for their user names and passwords. Business Insider interviewed a number of Apple employees who said that they get emails offering thousands of Euros to get a password — in some cases, up to €20,000 or about $22,245. Why do they want to get into the network? They’re probably trying to conduct industrial espionage of some sort or find out when the company plans activities. What’s dumb about this is that most employees have very limited and compartmentalized access to company data. Apple also uses more than just user names and passwords for granting network access, and just a name and password aren’t going to get hackers into the corporate systems. Apple does employee training on how to prevent login theft, which is a good step; now it might want to consider offering employees a bounty for every email they turn in and can track back to a hacker.

One trick of Apple watchers is to check the company’s job listings to get a hint about what things the company might be working on in the near future. The latest recruitment post is for a software engineer to work on the Apple Watch clock face team, cooperating with various other teams designing watch faces and complications. This would be nice, since the company still doesn’t allow third-party watch faces, and the pickings for new faces have been slim. Apple introduced three new faces with watchOS 2 last fall, and since then the only new face is one available only to buyers of the Hermes model watches.

When some of the world’s most desirable products and services aren’t made in your country, you can always resort to what Russia’s new Internet advisor is proposing — raise taxes on American companies operating in the country. German Klimenko thinks that the measures that are aimed at Apple, Google and Microsoft might expand the popularity of Russian companies like Yandex and The country is now in its worst recession in 16 years, so any source of revenue is fair game. Microsoft in particular is a big target — Klimenko has plans to switch Russian government computers from Microsoft Windows to Linux, since Microsoft has complied with sanctions that are penalizing the country for its actions in Crimea. Google is also a possible big target, since it refuses to give security information to Russian law enforcement organizations upon request and Klimenko believes that’s a threat to Russia’s national security. Apple has complied with most Russian requirements, most lately hosting local iCloud data within Russia to make sure that online services weren’t blocked by the government.

I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.