AWT News Update: August 25, 2016

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For a rather slow Thursday, we have some fascinating news from the world of Apple for you today.

  • We tell you about the exploits patched by iOS 9.3.5, and why it's a good idea to install the patch as soon as possible
  • That "Celebration Apple-1" sold at auction for $815,000
  • An eBay auction of some old Apple CDs ended up with the discs going to none other than Apple
  • Investment firm JP Morgan reports that Apple's back tax bill in its conflict with the European Commission could be as high as $19 billion

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below.

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for August 25, 2016. Here are some of today’s Apple news highlights.

You probably already saw it on Apple World Today and on our twitter channel, but make sure that you download and install the iOS 9.3.5 patch made available today by Apple. The patch blocks three exploits that can make a remote jailbreak of an infected iPhone and pull data including device and account passwords from the device. The assault package called Pegasus was discovered on an activist’s phone, with the package delivered as part of an SMS message. Anyone clicking on the link in the message would be subject to a stealth attack that was solely designed to exfiltrate the target’s communications to a remote monitor. To quote Mike Murray of mobile security company Lookout, “It basically steals all of the information on your phone, it intercepts every call, it intercepts every text messages, it steals all the emails, the contacts, the FaceTime calls. It steals all the information in the Gmail app, all the Facebook messages, all the Facebook information, your Facebook contacts, everything from Skype, WhatsApp, Viber, WeChat, Telegram — you name it.” The spyware was identified and Apple informed on August 15, and today’s patch blocks the attack. At this time it is targeted at dissidents and activists; but it’s expected that similar attacks in the future may target ordinary citizens.

You may remember an AWT News Update story where we talked about an auction of what was called the Celebration Apple-1, an original Apple-1 computer that was never sold to the public and wasn’t part of a known production run of the first Apple. The auction is now over, with bids reaching $1.2 million in the final minutes. However, the last bid was pulled, so the computer sold for $815,000. The auction was hosted by charity auction site CharityBuzz, with 10 percent of the proceeds from the auction going to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Speaking of auctions, an Apple collector was selling his vintage Apple software collection on eBay earlier this month and was surprised when the buyer ended up being none other than Apple. Seller “Marcoguy” received a message from someone wanting to buy a dozen discs in his collection. The shipping address for the buyer was 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino, California, the current address of Apple headquarters. The seller asked the buyer about the purchase, and was told that Apple has a lab that contains archived materials. The buyer said that “We were missing some of the disks that you placed on eBay.”

Yesterday we had a story about the European Commission’s desire to charge Apple back taxes over a deal the company and the Irish government made that gave Apple a discounted tax rate in return for the company making investments and creating jobs in Ireland. Well, JP Morgan today announced that the tax bill handed to Apple could be as high as $19 billion dollars. The US Treasury Department had yesterday warned the European Commission about charging back taxes, noting that those payments would not be a foreseeable expense for a company, would undermine international consensus, and set an “undesirable precedent”. Unfortunately, similar arrangements in the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Belgium with Starbucks and auto manufacturer Fiat have already resulted in those companies being told to pay the back taxes. Fortunately, Apple has a lot of cash on hand with which to pay the back taxes, but this is a case of the European Commission overstepping the sovereignty of a member EU state in making its own decisions about how to stimulate job and economic growth.

That’s all for today; We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.