Apple to Hire New Hackers

Apple announced last Thursday that it was preparing to initiate its first ever bug bounty program, which will begin in September. Head of Apple security engineering and architecture Ivan Kristic revealed the program during his demonstration at the Black Hat security conference that took place in Las Vegas last week.

bugThe project will allegedly be more focused on high level service and quality over speed and quantity. Those hoping to participate in the program will have to wait for invitations at first, as the program will be limited to a very exclusive set of researchers.

That said, Apple does plan to work with a wide variety of other researchers on a case-by-case basis, and even the exclusive program is set to expand as time goes on.

According to Chenxi Wang, chief strategy officer at Twistlock, the bug bounty program “signifies how important it is to have community-based security versus an exclusive in-house security program.”

“To their credit they have done a great job in the quality and security of their software,” she continued, “but even Apple can’t do it alone. They need the collective brain power of the hacking community to help.”

The bug bounty program will offer the bounties for which the program is named. Hackers can receive up to $200,000 for any vulnerabilities they find in boot firmware components, $100,000 for any flaws they isolate that allow for the extraction of confidential material from the Secure Enclave Processor, up to $50,000 for finding vulnerabilities that could allow hackers to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges or that could allow unauthorized access to iCloud account data on Apple servers, and up to $25,000 for finding flaws that would make it possible for hackers to access a sandboxed process to user data outside that sandbox.

Apple added that if hackers were to find vulnerabilities outside of these categories, they would potentially still be eligible for a large cash reward.

bug2“With programs like this, there are two approaches,” explained Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “One is to actually find problems and fix them; the other is to use the program to create the impression you’re secure by providing big bounties to do things you believe can’t actually be done.”

According to Enderle, Apple’s bounty program “appears to be the latter case, which is why it’s both so restrictive and has such seemingly large bounties… This appears mostly targeted at undoing the damage the FBI did to Apple’s security reputation when they broke into an iPhone some time ago.”

According to program manager at Stratecast/Frost & Sullivan Michael Jude, when the government successfully hacked into terrorist Syed Farook’s iPhone earlier this year, “it showed that Apple can be breached.”

“Apple’s now in an arms war with the government,” Jude explained. “They need to improve security quickly and show people they’re taking it seriously. By engaging independents, Apple can provide an even stronger incentive to work within its community.”

Whether Apple’s bug bounty program is a success will depend on a variety of factors, from the level of talent that the bounties attract to the level of sophistication of the security software on the operating system itself.

The 227-year-old Law at the Center of the Encryption Debate

One of the many ways the internet is changing our brains includes our perception of our own privacy. What’s ironic is that now, in our space-age internet-information age, our legal and federal system is using precedents for our behavior that were set over two centuries ago

A law created at the same time as federal courts themselves is now at the center of one of the most public encryption debates to ever take place.

Namely, the debate between Apple CEO Tim Cook and the FBI, who are requesting via federal magistrate that Apple write custom software that will allow the FBI to help break into a phone it seized from one of the terrorists of the San Bernadino terrorist attack.

tim cookApple has stated that it is unwilling to write such a software, as it would constitute purposefully creating a serious security flaw in its own privacy protections and make vulnerable the millions of customers that rely on Apple encryption for their privacy.

Now the government has brought into play the All Writs Act, a part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that actually created the court system. A “writ” is a formal order. To bring the age of the law further into perspective, George Washington signed it into law.

The entirety of the statue is as follows:

“a) The Supreme Court and all courts established by Act of Congress may issue all writs necessary or appropriate in aid of their respective jurisdictions and agreeable to the usages and principles of law.

b) An alternative writ or rule nice may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.”

According to this act, courts have the power to issue orders that do not fall under a pre-existing law. The act serves as a procedural tool for courts dealing with strange issues that haven’t been covered by laws yet, which definitely made sense when the justice system and entire country were new and forming. However, some believe that this law should not be used to allow the government to go against existing laws or take action when there’s no laws today.

After all, as one gizmodo writer put it, “A judge can’t issue an order for Tim Cook to execute Jony Ive or to move to a condo in Yonkers. It’s not that broad.”

According to a precedent set by the Supreme Court in 1948, the law is “a legislatively approved source of procedural instruments designed to achieve ‘the rational ends of law.'”

The act is not used frequently in modern courts, and when it has surfaced in some military courts recently, the courts overwhelmingly ruled that they did not have authority under All Writs.

fbiiiNowadays, the act is generally used to “effectuate” a search warrant, as the FBI is attempting to use it now. The FBI wants to search that San Bernadino terrorist’s phone, and it’s trying to use All Writs to force Apple to help.

This has worked before. All Writs has already been used to force Apple to help law enforcement unlock iPhones, in fact that has happened 70 times.

Unfortunately, there is only one judge that questions this house of All Writs. When the government tried to get Judge Ornstein to authorize surveillance using All Writs in 2005, the judge said that that interpretation “invites an exercise of judicial activism that is breathtaking in its scope and fundamentally inconsistent with my understanding of the extent of my authority.” Ornstein has questioned whether All Writs was appropriate for Apple’s San Bernadino encryption issue as well.

data recovery process

5 Hard Drive Data Recovery Tips For Media Failure

External hard drives can fail in a number of ways. They may suffer from low power, motor failure, media failure or cable failure. This article deals purely with media failure, the most common problem that hard drives are likely to suffer from. This is when media blocks stored on the hard drive malfunction and the drive controller avoids using them. Here are five tips to help you if your hard drive suffers from media failure.

Tip #1. Identify The Problem

Media failure is the most common problem that hard drives are likely to suffer from. Your first task is to identify that your hard drive is suffering from this issue. Your hard drive may be suffering from a low power issue, motor failure or even cable failure. All four issues may cause a drive to fail to boot. If your drive un-mounts spontaneously or generates clicking noises, this indicates that media failure is not the sole cause and there are other factors at play.

Tip #2. Don’t Use File System Recovery If You Think There Is A Hardware Problem

You must proceed cautiously when attempting to recover data from an external hard drive. If there is an audible clicking sound and you believe that the hardware such as the disk or disk head may have an issue, you should not use a file system recovery program or recovery software. This may destroy your data and the hardware. There is the possibility that data on the hardware becomes unrecoverable even if you subsequently take the drive to a specialist data-recovery company.

Tip #3. Cool The Drive

Your hard drive’s hardware controller has an algorithm that looks at data in blocks and checks them against a forward error correction (FEC) checksum. The FEC is used to recover blocks that contain corrupted data. Data recovered in this way is rewritten in another location, thus causing the media failure error where the drive fails to read the data a number of times and the original signal is weak. Professional data recovery experts can acquire the data and reallocate the original block to fix the media failure. Therefore, your best chance of saving the data is to prevent your hard drive from overheating. You should cool your drive to preserve the data before taking it to a recovery specialist.

Tip #4. Back Up What You Can

If you can boot your drive and it operates without any issues, you can usually rule out head motor failure, low power or cable failure. If you have media failure, the best approach is to back up what you can. Secure the data you can access and leave the data that cannot be accessed.

Tip #5. Isolate Which Files Are Causing The Error And See A Specialist

The final tip for recovering data is to try to pinpoint where the media failure is occurring. Type ‘cat filename > /dev/null’ and monitor your console output or system log to see whether the data can be read successfully. The block data should be reallocated and the files should cause no further errors. If they do, you should visit a hard drive recovery expert in Edmonton.


Media failure is the more common hard drive error but problems during recovery can be catastrophic. The wrong approach can make the data unrecoverable so it may be best to consult a professional from the outset.

Tips for Choosing the Best Security Systems for Your Home

When you want to provide security for your family, you should think of installing a home security system. There are many products in the market that promise to offer what you want but the truth is that very few actually provide exactly what you need. When you are looking for total security that will meet all your needs, you need to partner with a company that will install a system that has all the best features. At Smart Home Audio Visual, we will custom design a system that meet your security needs.

Advanced technology

When you are looking for an easy to use system that is both versatile and effective, you can choose from a wide range of options including the wireless self-monitored systems. The best alarm systems can allow you to monitor your home from any location. You can install sensors in any part of the home or outside the home to ensure total security. Advanced technology will allow you to have peace of mind because you know what is happening in your home even in your absence. An alarm hooked to your phone or computer can alert you if there is someone trying to gain access into your home.

High-resolution cameras

A Security System that is perfect for home protection comes complete with the ability to record activities in your home. This type of evidence is very important for proving any case conclusively. The high-resolution cameras are water resistant and the high quality images are a definite advantage. You can connect the systems to the TV or computer monitor to record anything you want for up to one month. The system even has night vision capabilities to ensure that you get images when it is dark. The fact that there is no extra cost to view the video makes the system quite cost effective.

Installing panic buttons

If intruders get into your premises when you are home, it helps to have strategically placed panic buttons that can help you to summon for help. You can prevent the intruders from taking off with your property by pressing a button. The home security system can be very useful for protecting your family and property and you can monitor the movements of any intruders while you remain safe. Apart from protecting your home from burglars, a panic button can come in very handy if you have a medical condition. You can get help right away if you fall ill or are unable to get to the phone.

When you decide to install a home security system, you should consider different factors including your budget, the size of the home and your needs. You should learn the most important concepts to consider when making the purchase. Many people today are looking to enhance their home security without disrupting the way they live. This usually means installing systems that they can monitor conveniently at any time. To find the ideal security system for your home, contact us today for your motion sensors and real time CCTV monitoring system.

Bringing The Full Theatre Experience Home

For most people going out to the cinema and having the full theatre experience rate right up there with life’s most memorable experiences. It is no longer required to reserve seats, dress uncomfortably and watch the memory challenged grapple for the silence button when their mobile jumps into action. The experience is now available in your home with all the little annoyance removed but keeping the pleasures and in some instances enhancing them. Come with and let us hit the PLAY button together.

Be at home with a theatrical touch

There is a good reason why the term “home cinema” did not make the grade. Today a home theatre has much more to offer than the cinema down the exhaust-smoke filled lane. Apart from showing films with great viewing quality the home theatre is also the place where family and friends congregate to enjoy a shared passion. This can range from watching the next episode in the latest TV series to listening to a surround sound concert of your favourite group. Surfing on YouTube and making a Skype call can all be accomplished without leaving the comfort of your chair.

The map is not the journey

Having a fully functional home theatre installed is not something that can be done by looking at a “7 Easy Steps” website. The problems associated with designing and implementing a home theatre system are the same as those experienced when networking high-tech components. They all work seamlessly together but only if they are set up and connected in one way out of the myriad of possibilities. Finding your way home is not so easy when it comes to this type of theatre. The shortest route is to locate the experts who do this on a daily basis and know how to hit a home run.

Vision and sound

The advice from the experts is indispensable. They know the ons and offs of television when it boils down to plasma versus LED and why 1920 is different from 1280. They are done with having the surround system working long before the cows come home. They don’t trip up when it gets to cables and know their way around Bluetooth and the Orange Book. Years of experience has taught them how to have a safety net planned when the network starts rolling out.

And then there’s more

After the TV and speakers have made their debut it is time for Blu-ray, laptops, tablets, control panels and comfortable seats as we hit the home stretch. The professional home theatre consultants can even provide custom lighting and show you how to have multiple windows with different content in each to satisfy the different priorities of the family members to make them feel right at home. It is the perfect integration of all the separate components that turns watching just another movie into a quality theatre-like experience.