AWT News Update: March 23, 2017

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

Another short news update today, with word of a scary (but hopefully no longer extant) CIA hack and good news about the iPhone that's expected to be released this fall:

  • WikiLeaks details Mac and iPhone hacks. The Mac hacks are enough to give you nightmares...
  • Barclay's analysts agree that the new iPhone with the 5.8-inch OLED display will come out in September, but in limited quantities

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Note to Apple News readers: you’ll need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update for March 23rd, 2017.

Just a reminder to join us on Monday night for our new live streaming show, AWT TV. We’ll be talking all things Apple and tech, and invite you to join us, watch, and even make snarky comments in the live chat.

Some scary news out there today. WikiLeaks published the latest in what they call the Vault 7 collection, and the new release — titled “Dark Matter” — has documents that highlight projects tackled by the Central Intelligence Agency to infect Apple computer systems and iPhones. The Mac infections are quite nasty, infecting the Extensible Firmware Interface that is used during boot up. Called the “Sonic Screwdriver” project after a Doctor Who gizmo that opens just about everything, the Mac hack can be launched from a USB stick or even a Thunderbolt to Ethernet adapter that has been modified. It doesn’t matter if the Mac is locked down with a firmware password, Sonic Screwdriver still works. Since the EFI isn’t cleared when installing macOS from scratch, the infection persists. Even more frightening is word of a version of the NightSkies tool for iPhone. According to WikiLeaks, it’s designed to be installed on “factory fresh iPhones” and WikiLeaks believes that “the CIA has been infecting the iPhone supply chain of its targets since at least 2008”. There is a ray of hope, however. Most of the releases talk about software vulnerabilities that no longer exist as they’ve been patched by Apple, and all require physical access to the victim’s devices.

The rumored high-end iPhone that will be called the iPhone 8, iPhone X, iPhone Edition or iPhone Pro — or something else altogether — is still expected to launch in September of 2017. The phone, with a 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED display, probably won’t be available in quantity until later in the fourth quarter. The word comes from Barclays analysts Blayne Curtis, Christopher Hemmelgarn, Thomas O’Malley and Jerry Zhang, based on information from Apple’s supply chain following a trip to Asia earlier this month. These rumors are in line with what KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has noted in his predictions about the new phone.

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