AWT News Update: September 26, 2016

Image via BidnessEtc

Image via BidnessEtc

In today's Apple news -- word of a hacker meeting at Apple headquarters today, a rumor that the Lightning port may be the next iPhone port to disappear, and an interesting piece of information on how Apple logs each of your Messages...although it can't read them. 

  • Apple invites a dozen or so top hackers to Apple HQ to get them up to speed on a new bug bounty program that could pay up to $200,000 for each vulnerability found
  • A patent filing today shows a new "optical port" that could be used on future iPhones, making a port-less iPhone a reality
  • Apple logs the IP address, date and time of every text message you send, and can provide that information to law enforcement officers upon request.

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 September 28, 2016.

Are you a heck of a hacker? If so, you probably visited Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino today. Forbes reported that the company invited top hackers to the Apple offices to brief them about the upcoming launch of its bug bounty program. Apple will pay hackers up to $200,000 for providing the company with information on vulnerabilities on its computers and mobile devices. The program should go live in the next two days, and is by invitation only in order to get the best quality of insight into operating system vulnerabilities. Who are some of these folks? Let’s see; there’s 19-year-old hacker Luca Todesco who recently jailbroke an iPhone 7. Nicholas Allegra, AKA Comex, who is a longtime iOS hacker and jailbreaker. Patrick Wardle, a former NSA employee who found a number of security holes in Mac OS X. Forbes assumes that 8 other famous hackers are also invited. Now no other company offers as much for finding security vulnerabilities, but exploits of iOS have been sold for more than $1 million to companies such as Zerodium and Exodus Intel that help law enforcement officers break into suspect phones. Here’s to the start of a hopefully productive and profitable relationship for both hackers and Apple.

Another story today is from Forbes writer Ewan Spence, who thinks that Apple might be looking at getting rid of much more than just the 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone and other devices. Where did he come up with this idea? A patent was published today that shows that Apple could be looking at dropping the Lightning port and replacing it with an optical interface that uses tiny invisible holes that let data pass from a magnetically attached cable into the iPhone. Since there would be no port for charging, it’s expected that the same cable that would be used for data transfer could also provide wireless inductive charging. The new port-less iPhone could come as soon as next year, which will be the tenth-anniversary iPhone that is expected to bring a number of new technologies to the phone.

Finally, word comes from The Intercept’s Sam Biddle that although iMessage conversations are encrypted end-to-end, Apple does keep a 30 day record of people you have been texting with. The log includes the data and time you entered a contacts’s number, along with your IP address. Although Apple says it only keeps the records for 30 days, court orders can be used to extend the log period for additional 30 day periods. Apple released a statement saying that “When law enforcement presents us with a valid subpoena or court order, we provide the requested information if it is in our possession. Because iMessage is encrypted end-to-end, we do not have access to the contents of those communications. In some cases, we are able to provide data from server logs that are generated from customers accessing certain apps on their devices. We work closely with law enforcement to help them understand what we can provide and make clear these query logs don’t contain the contents of conversations or prove that any communication actually took place.”

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