It was All a Marketing Stunt

The Italian ISP that deleted all of its servers… yeah, apparently… not so much.

hoaxLate last week, the owner of a small web hosting company in Italy said he “accidentally” executed some bad maintenance code on his servers, and they deleted all his servers.

Marco Marsala headed to a support forum and posted a cry for help claiming he made a big mistake,

“I run a small hosting provider with more or less 1,535 customers and I use Ansible to automate some operations to be run on all servers,” Marsala wrote. “Last night I accidentally ran, on all servers, a Bash script with a rm -rf {foo}/{bar} with those variables undefined due to a bug in the code above this line.

“All servers got deleted and the offsite backups too because the remote storage was mounted just before by the same script (that is a backup maintenance script).”

He got some sympathetic replies. However, most of the forum users basically told him he was an idiot and that since (as he further explained) that all of his onsite and offsite backup drives were also mounted to his servers at the time of execution, all of the sites that he ran (again, approximately 1535) all got permanently and irrevocably deleted.

Apparently, the delete was so destructive, that many users didn’t think that even an experienced data recovery company would be able to retrieve his data.

One user told him in no uncertain terms,

“You’re going out of business. You don’t need technical advice, you need to call your lawyer,”

I, and many others, woke up this morning only to find out that this had been nothing more than a giant hoax… it was all a marketing ploy. I guess the idea was that he was going to miraculously “restore” his data by himself, thus proving his technical superiority, and would hopefully gain more business.

If that wasn’t it, I have no idea, as, if I were someone wanting web hosting, I wouldn’t be looking to THAT guy…

According to Server Fault Meta, the whole thing was nothing more than a DUPLICATE of what is being called a “guerrilla marketing operation.” The user has been called a “blatant spammer/ troll” by a number of users

One user called Sirex, I think said it best, “we went into it thinking [this guy] was an idiot. We’ve came out of it thinking [this guy’s] an idiot, but for a different reason. I don’t think the joke is on us.

I happen to agree, here. If I were anyone that had a web account with this guy… I’d be long gone by now. What about you? Did you see this last week? Did you follow it at all? Were you surprised when it was reported to be a hoax? Why not chime in, in the Discussion Area, below and give me your thoughts?

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Government Cracks the iPhone 5c

The FBI was successful in jailbreaking, uh, I mean, cracking that iPhone 5c they have…

iphone 5c_unlockBefore I get into it, let me say, this is (probably) the best possible outcome of this whole crazy mess.

Early Monday evening, Chicago Time, the Department of Justice announced that its efforts to crack the iPhone 5c used by Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Milik. I’ve tried my best to cover this story while it has been going on. Just to recap:

Back door..?!? We don’ need your stinkin’ backdoor..!
The DoJ to Apple Computer – Byte Me…
The All Writs Act is an All Access Pass
Apple Tells the FBI to go Pound Bits

It’s not been exactly our best moments… with grandstanding and posturing on both sides. However, with the phone cracked and the data “safely” in the hands of the FBI, the DoJ has moved to vacate its court order compelling Apple to provide aid in giving them access to the phone in their ongoing investigation. Now that they’ve got a way in, they don’t need Apple to build them that back door.

Melanie Newman, a DoJ spokesman, provided the following statement via Twitter on their plans:

“It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with cooperation from relevant parties, or through the court system when cooperation fails… We will continue to pursue all available options for this mission, including seeking the cooperation of manufacturers and relying upon the creativity of both the public and private sectors.”

Apple has issued a brief statement, as reported by Buzz Feed’s John Paczkowski:

“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.

We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.

Apple believes deeply that people in the States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk.

This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy. Apple remains committed to participating in that discussion.”

There are a number of groups, that are calling for the government to disclose information on the actual exploit that was used to gain access to the iDevice in question, including the American Civil Liberties Union.

However, there are two takeaways here that everyone should be cognizant of, and that are near certainties:

1. The government isn’t going to share the information
If they disclose the method used to access the iDevice, Apple will certainly plug the hole, preventing the government from using it on other iDevices in the future. Besides, they’re probably a little more than miffed at Apple for not giving them what they wanted without putting up a fight.

2. Apple is going to devote a great deal of time hardening iOS
Apple is going to make certain that it goes on a big enough bug hunt that it squashes any and all security holes it finds. Its then going to go and improve the encryption and other security features in iOS to insure that end user data that is supposed to be private, remains private.

So, how is this likely the best outcome, given the above, and other developments?

That’s easy – because no one had to force their hand…

Simply put, the government didn’t have to (really) try to make Apple comply, and Apple didn’t have to refuse. The debate on the case, isn’t far from over, however, as I’m certain that its likely to come to a boil before Apple has a chance to release a version of iOS with “uncrackable” encryption.

What do you think of all of this? Is this the outcome you were hoping for? Are you Team Apple or Team DoJ? Should Apple build the back door the government was initially asking for, or should it harden iOS to the point where no one can get it without the proper password or biometric data?

I’d love to hear from you. Why don’t you sound off in the Discussion area, below and let me know what you think of all of this?

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Back door..?!? We don’ need your stinkin’ backdoor..!

Life is just full of little surprises…

backdoorI really can’t help but chuckle a little bit. Over the past four to six weeks, the FBI and the DoJ have been screaming at Apple through the media about how they MUST help the DoJ break into an iPhone 5c owned by a local government agency but used by Syed Farook and his wife Tashfeen Milik.

There’s been a great deal of posturing back and forth between the two – Apple has been saying that the government’s requests are really equivalent to making them create cancer. The government has threatened to make Apple turn over its source code and signing keys.

In an interesting development, it was reported on 2016-03-21 that a third party made an offer to show the FBI a method that may get them access to Farook’s iPhone 5c, all without assistance from Apple.

The FBI was so interested in this development that they moved to cancel a court hearing scheduled on 2016-03-22 where additional evidence would be presented by both sides. The same judge who previously ordered Apple to help unlock the encrypted iPhone, US Magistrate Sheri Pym, approved the motion.

The DoJ remains “cautiously optimistic” that this will work. If it does, then they get what they want without having to compel Apple to do it for them. The court has ordered the DoJ to file a status report by 2016-04-05.

Apple’s attorneys are urging caution, saying that the method the DoJ was shown may not help them and both may find themselves back in court in two weeks. It’s also unclear to Apple what vulnerability the FBI has been shown in order to crack the phone. Like everyone else, this was news to them (Apple) as well.

However, if the FBI can’t crack the phone with this new help, they’re going renew their original case with vigor.

If this works, I can see the FBI tying the solution up very quickly into their own, private back door… that is until Apple – or a DIFFERENT third party – discovers or discloses it, and Apple hardens the OS against this particular vulnerability.

At the end of the day, though as in the 1948 film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, I can hear “that guy” saying “it” over and over again – We don’t need any stinkin’ backdoor..!

This is an ongoing story, and as additional information is made available, updates will be posted.

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Do I have the AceDeceiver Malware?

Most – if not all – iPhone users, can relax…

AceDeceiver-Malware

There’s but a great deal of hub-bub over the latest revelation that non-jailbroken iPhones can be breached with a man in the middle attack (MitM) that comes to iDevices via flaws in Apples DRM system, FairPlay.

Apple’s FairPlay DRM (digital rights management) system insures that only authorized users can get access to purchased content (apps, music, movies, etc.) through a given AppleID. However, this MitM attack allows hackers to install malware on iOS devices without a user’s knowledge or consent, bypassing Apple security measures.

According to PaloAlto Networks,“In the FairPlay MITM attack, attackers purchase an app from App Store then intercept and save the authorization code. They then developed PC software that simulates the iTunes client behaviors, and tricks iOS devices to believe the app was purchased by the victim.”

While this has previously been used just to pirate iDevice apps in the past, this is the first time this particular attack has been used to install and spread malware.  Victims first download a Windows program called Aisi Helper which is supposed to provide jailbreaking, system back up and device management and cleaning services.  Once installed, it installs malicious apps to any and all iDevices that are ever connected to the PC.

From that point forward, the malicious app redirects App Store requests to a malicious store, where your AppleID and password WILL be phished.  So, what does this mean for YOU, the iPhone user right now?

Honestly, not much; and there are two really big reasons why:

  1. Currently, this effects users in China
    … and that’s about it right now. So unless, you’re an iPhone user, in China, at least for the moment, you’re safe.
  2. This is currently a Windows only Attack
    So, if you’re a Mac, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It all starts on the desktop, as I noted above.  If you’re using a Windows PC, then be vigilant; but again, unless you’re a Windows user that actually uses a Chinese localized version of Windows (and actually resides IN China), then you don’t’ have anything to worry about.
  3. If you’re OTA Only
    …Then don’t sweat it at all. If you NEVER connect your iPhone to a Windows machine, like…EVER… then you’re perfectly safe.  Apple’s on device security measures have already covered for this, and you have nothing to worry about.

So, what can you do to protect yourself, if you’ve been to China recently, use a Windows PC, and think maybe you might-could, possibly be infected??  That’s really easy.

  1. Don’t Jailbreak your iPhone
    I know, I know, I know… I said earlier that this attack hit NON-jailbroken iDevices. The whole thing starts, though on the desktop through the program Aisi Helper. While you may not be interested in its jailbreaking services, it can be used to backup, and clean cruft from your iDevice.Here’s a piece of advice – the only thing you need to use to back up your iDevice is iTunes. Period. If you don’t connect to iTunes on your computer through a USB cable and are OTA only, then use iCloud to back up your device. If you think you need to reset your, iDevice, then use only Apple provided tools (iTunes or the Reset functionality in your iDevice’s Settings).  Using third party tools for any of this is just an invitation to trouble
  2. Uninstall the Desktop Software
    If you have Aisi Helper on your PC, uninstall it. Period.  Don’t ever install any third party tool to backup, clean, or manage content on your iDevice, unless you REALLY trust the developer. And then, it’s really, REALLY risky.
  3. Run a Virus Scan
    After its gone, run a full virus scan with the tool of your choice, and then  make sure you quarantine and then remove any threats that are found.

This development is interesting, and monitoring for it on your iDevice and outside of China (where it’s the only place this is currently a threat) isn’t a bad idea.  However, at this point, for everyone else, this isn’t too big of a deal.  The biggest thing you have to keep in mind though, is that jailbreaking your iDevice is risky, no matter how much you might hate Apple’s walled garden.

While you may not be able to do everything you might want to do with your iDevice in terms of customization and side loading applications, with the threat of malware that steals your personal information that can lead to identity theft, the cool factor and the value in breaking free largely lose their appeal.

What do you think? Is jailbreaking still a thing?  Does it really offer you the options you’re looking for?  Is it too risky?  Do you have a jailbroken iDevice?  Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below, and let me know?

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The DoJ to Apple Computer – Byte Me…

Apparently, the FBI didn’t appreciate being told to go pound bits…

The battle between the FBI and Apple regarding a certain iPhone 5c got a bit nasty last week. Frankly, I’m not surprised. I really didn’t expect the FBI to go gentle into that goodnight just because Apple said, “no.”

fbivsapple

In fact, it got a lot nastier.

Last week, according to ComputerWorld, the government filed a brief where it hinted that it may demand the Apple hand over the source code to iOS 9 and the key used to sign the OS, so they can do what Apple is refusing to do on their own.

After the government filed its brief, Apple’s Bruce Sewell said the following

We received the brief [last week] and honestly we’re still absorbing it but we wanted to get a couple of points out for you guys as you’re working your way through it.

First, the tone of the brief reads like an indictment. We’ve all heard Director Comey and Attorney General Lynch thank Apple for its consistent help in working with law enforcement. Director Comey’s own statement that “there are no demons here.” Well, you certainly wouldn’t conclude it from this brief. In 30 years of practice I don’t think I’ve seen a legal brief that was more intended to smear the other side with false accusations and innuendo, and less intended to focus on the real merits of the case.

For the first time we see an allegation that Apple has deliberately made changes to block law enforcement requests for access. This should be deeply offensive to everyone that reads it. An unsupported, unsubstantiated effort to vilify Apple rather than confront the issues in the case.

Or the ridiculous section on China where an AUSA, an officer of the court, uses unidentified Internet sources to raise the specter that Apple has a different and sinister relationship with China. Of course that is not true, and the speculation is based on no substance at all.

To do this in a brief before a magistrate judge just shows the desperation that the Department of Justice now feels. We would never respond in kind, but imagine Apple asking a court if the FBI could be trusted “because there is this real question about whether J. Edgar Hoover ordered the assassination of Kennedy — see ConspiracyTheory.com as our supporting evidence.”

We add security features to protect our customers from hackers and criminals. And the FBI should be supporting us in this because it keeps everyone safe. To suggest otherwise is demeaning. It cheapens the debate and it tries to mask the real and serious issues. I can only conclude that the DoJ is so desperate at this point that it has thrown all decorum to the winds….

We know there are great people in the DoJ and the FBI. We work shoulder to shoulder with them all the time. That’s why this cheap shot brief surprises us so much. We help when we’re asked to. We’re honest about what we can and cannot do. Let’s at least treat one another with respect and get this case before the American people in a responsible way. We are going before court to exercise our legal rights. Everyone should beware because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Sewell is right to be a little shocked and confused on this. The government is starting to get a bit perturbed by all of this; and it’s starting to show on their end. I especially appreciate Sewell’s puzzled notion about disagreeing with the government. Just because they disagree doesn’t mean that Apple is evil and anti-American. At the very least, it just means they disagree.

It’s really the government in this case who is hurling threats and getting nasty. Which is a bit surprising… Honestly, if the government could do everything that they said they would do after receiving the iOS source code and OS signing key (should Apple actually agree to part with it) then why are they “requesting” Apple’s assistance? Requesting the OS and signing key means they can handle it by themselves. Demanding Apple assist them means they can’t; and this really seems like an empty threat.

In a related post on Twitter, my very good friend, Chris Pirillo tweeted a URL to perhaps one of the best summarization of the entire Apple v FBI case I’ve ever seen. While done as satire, its surprisingly accurate and very factual. If you’re still curious about all the facts in the case, this is a good video to watch and is entirely worth the time spent watching it from start to finish.

To further end on an additional jovial note, I saw this last week and nearly spit the contents of my mouth all over my monitors, I was laughing so hard.

While I am certain Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd is serious about seeking a warrant for Time Cook’s arrest IF and WHEN they request Apple to unlock and phone and Apple refuses, he’s going to have a very difficult time enforcing a warrant from Polk County Florida in Cupertino, California, especially when its likely no “crime” has been committed.

Saying, “no” to a court order is part of the process. You can appeal the order. Sheriff Judd saying he’d arrest Tim Cook for non-compliance is just this guy trying to capture his 15 minutes of fame…and quite honestly, it clearly demonstrates his lack of understanding in the case at hand.

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The All Writs Act is an All Access Pass

Yeah… “It’s good to be the king…!

Those of you that recognize the comic line from Mel Brook’s History of the World: Part 1 will recall that it was used by Mel Brooks during the montage on pre-Revolutionary France where Brooks played King Louis XVI. The king gets to do whatever he wants. Therefore it’s good to be the king…

the all writs act

I’ve been looking for a simple explanation of the All Writs Act of 1789 and for a straight forward explanation on how it applies to the Apple v. FBI case. I found part of this, here. The Act in and of itself is a simple two sentence, two point piece of legislation that provides the government and law enforcement a great deal of latitude when pursuing justice. As its short and to the point, I’m including the full text of the statute, below:

28 U.S. Code § 1651 – Writs

(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 nisi may be issued by a justice or judge of a court which has jurisdiction.

(FYI – a “rule nisi” is an order to show cause; and its considered directly applicable, unless the party its directed at can prove that it isn’t)

Application of the All Writs Act requires the fulfillment of [specific] conditions:

  1. The absence of alternative remedies – the act is only applicable when other judicial tools are not available.
  2. An independent basis for jurisdiction – the act authorizes writs in aid of jurisdiction, but does not in itself create any federal subject-matter jurisdiction.
  3. Necessary or appropriate in aid of jurisdiction – the writ must be necessary or appropriate to the particular case.
  4. Usages and principles of law – the statute requires courts to issue writs “agreeable to the usages and principles of law.”

Now, I’m NOT a lawyer; but I was a Regulatory Affairs Manager for a medical device company here in the States for a number of years; and I’m used to reading over legislation, regulations and legal texts. So, the following is my interpretation of what I see going on with the above, and as it relates to the Apple v. FBI case:

  1. The All Writs Act is a Blank Check
    It’s very clear that the government (read: law enforcement) can effectively do whatever it wants when it comes to a legal dead end, if it chooses to. If the government attempts to get a warrant for what they feel is a specific bit of evidence and the warrant is denied or quashed, they can fire back with this; and as long as a judge agrees, they’re in. It’s completely subjective.
  2. The Act in and of itself does not Include Any Challenges or Limitations
    Other than the first condition in the statute, noted above requiring other remedies and statutes to be exhausted first, applying for and receiving the necessary writ need only be
    a. Applied for and executed in the appropriate jurisdiction (you can’t go to a judge in NY for something you want to do in CA)
    b. Must have a basis in law (but depending on the situation at hand, doesn’t necessarily require previous application or precedent).
    c. Necessary to the case

If you think about it, that covers just about everything.

So, for this to be applicable to the Apple v. FBI case where the FBI is looking to get past the password screen on the employer owned, iPhone 5c used by Syed Farook, all the government has had to do is

  1. Try to get past this screen (and they have)
  2. Have hit a technical roadblock (and they have)
  3. Have tried to other legal tools to compel Apple to unlock the phone (and they have)

What’s at issue here is twofold:

It sets a nasty legal precedent

The FBI has backtracked on its previous statements and said that “forcing Apple Inc. to give the FBI data from an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters would be ‘potentially precedential’ in other cases where the agency might request similar cooperation from technology companies.,” according to an article by Julia Harte and Julia Edwards on MSN.

The FBI stated during testimony given before Congress, and in response to a question from Representative John Conyers, FBI director Jim Comey stated, “of course the bureau would seek to apply the same tactic in other cases.”

Which, by the way, is a direct contradiction to statements that were made by Comey in earlier, taped, interviews where he said that all the FBI wanted was information off of this, one, individual iPhone 5c, in this case

Its unduly burdensome

In essence, as I understand it, the FBI is demanding that Apple create and maintain a new product, specifically for law enforcement, that will permit them to crack into any iPhone, any time they deem it necessary.

It’s not an add-on. It’s an entire new piece of firmware. It’s going to require all of the same development and testing and project resources that every other piece of Apple iPhone firmware requires, along with a secured, dedicated, classified, testing and development lab (in order to keep everything secret and safe.

While the All Writs Act doesn’t provide for safeguards against this, other legislation does. Unfortunately, the liability of proof of this burden lies with Apple, and not with the government. If Apple doesn’t want to do what the FBI is demanding, they’ll be required to demonstrate this to a judge (or to Congress) in federal court or in a formal hearing, respectively.

In an interesting twist, a New York Magistrate, Judge Hames Orenstein found that the government “lacks the legal authority necessary to force Apple or any company to break its own digital security protocols.”

In his ruling, Judge Orenstein indicated he agreed that forcing Apple to “[invent, code and distribute] a purposely vulnerable operating system in hopes of cracking existing device security was unreasonably burdensome.” The ruling in full can be seen here.

Armed with this, Apple has filed a formal objection to their case and has cited the decision noted above it its filing.

There’s more developing in this case, so stay tuned for additional updates as they develop.

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Apple Tells the FBI to go Pound Bits

The FBI’s request for Apple to crack the San Bernardino terrorist iPhone 5c isn’t as cut and dry as it might appear…

apple and the fbi

This story has been making headlines for quite some time now, and I honestly think that it will continue to make headlines for some time to come. In fact, I can see this subject staying in the news for at least the next couple of months…

This is perhaps one of the most controversial issues I’ve seen out of the tech sector in a very long time. I’m also not entirely certain that there has EVER been such a controversial or politically charged issue on the minds of nearly every personal computer user – like, EVER.

At the heart of the issue is the iPhone 5c used by Syed Farook.  Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people and injured another 22 during a training class and party in December 2015.  The FBI has tried to access the iPhone 5c, but have not been able to get past its passcode, which resets after 10 failed attempts, rendering the device inaccessible.

During the week of 2016-02-14 to 2016-02-20, a federal judge ordered that Apple must assist the FBI in getting past the passcode screen.  Apple, has since refused to comply with this order, stating that they intend to fight the order, which they see as a violation of the right to privacy and of civil liberties.

At issue, is not this one single iPhone, owned by the (uninvolved and unknowing) business that Farook worked for.  According to Apple, the only way to gain access to an iPhone locked with a passcode is to crack the encryption and build a back door into the OS.  According to the FBI, Apple doesn’t have to create that back door. They can simply modify this one, particular iPhone 5c and give the FBI the access they need.

First of all, I think it’s interesting that the FBI can make this determination. If they’re smart enough to figure THAT out, then why can’t they crack the Farook’s iPhone themselves?

The logical answer here is they don’t.

They’re making an assumption, and I don’t believe they know what they’re talking about. If they had the technical hutzpah to make that statement, then they wouldn’t need Apple.

Now, according to an interview with Tim Cook that aired on ABC World News Tonight, there are some very serious problems with this request. Actually, Tim Cook called the issue “complex.”

According to Cook,

“If a court can ask us to write this piece of software, think about what else they could ask us to write — maybe it’s an operating system for surveillance, maybe the ability for the law enforcement to turn on the camera,” Cook said. “I don’t know where this stops. But I do know that this is not what should be happening in this country.”

In a message from Cook to Apple customers during the week of 2016-02-14 to 2016-02-20, Cook said that they had provided assistance to the FBI, but wouldn’t create a backdoor that would have the potential to crack any iPhone.  This decision was applauded by both Google CEO Sundar Pichai and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, among other Silicon Valley big wigs.  Currently, there are approximately two dozen iPhones held by law enforcement agencies around the country where those agencies are interested in the outcome of this case.

If the FBI prevails, precedent is created for Apple to provide them with the same kind or type of tool or service for unlocking those two dozen or so iPhones as well as any other encrypted iOS devices in the future.

This is the biggest concern of all, as then this leaves Apple open to similar requests from nearly every legal agency in this country as well as other’s around the world, to provide them with the same kind of access.  So, every political dissident or activist that is detained by a dissenting, international governing body that owns an iPhone or other iDevice, will demand that Apple provide them (that governing body) with the same services.

The story here only gets more and more interesting…

Bill Gates, one of the founders of Microsoft, was recently quoted as coming out AGAINST Apple’s plight against the FBI.  When asked for clarification, Gates replied,

I was disappointed, because that doesn’t state my view on this. I do believe that with the right safeguards, there are cases where the government, on our behalf — like stopping terrorism, which could get worse in the future — that that is valuable. But striking that balance — clearly the government [has] taken information, historically, and used it in ways that we didn’t expect, going all the way back, say, to the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover. So I’m hoping now we can have the discussion. I do believe there are sets of safeguards where the government shouldn’t have to be completely blind… The courts are going to decide this…  In the meantime, that gives us this opportunity to get [in] the discussion. And these issues will be decided in Congress.”

However, in a statement released on 2016-02-26, Microsoft itself has come out in support of Apple, and not the FBI, like its co-founder, Bill Gates.  Microsoft’s support comes in the form of an amicus brief that it will file with the court next week.  Microsoft’s support is joined to that of Google’s and Facebooks, but really, according to Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith from testimony taken from a congressional hearing, the government, not the courts needs to discuss the [implementation of]new legislation to govern privacy.

The focus of Microsoft’s statements can be nicely summed up with a statement from an industry group, “while it’s ‘extremely important’ to deter crime and terrorism, no company should be required to build back doors to their own technology.”

Personally, I #StandwithApple.  While I support the US government’s stand against terrorism and generally consider myself to be a conservative, the government doesn’t need a back door into my smartphone.  Giving the government too much power and access into my privacy and personal life is NOT what I want.

I’d love to hear everyone’s opinion on this.  If you agree or disagree, support Apple or support the FBI, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue. Please share them with us in the comment section below and lend your voice to the discussion.

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Microsoft is Under the Antitrust Microscope in China

Apparently, China has “major issues” it wants Microsoft to explain…

chinese-flagIn July of 2014, China raided Microsoft’s local offices and confiscated a lot of data as part of an antitrust investigation. On 2016-01-05, Chinese regulators demanded that Microsoft explain “major issues it discovered with that data”. This was the first time in over a year that China gave any indication that their antitrust investigation would be moving forward.

Microsoft has publicly stated that it is “serious” about complying with Chinese law and to addressing SAIC’s (China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce) concerns.

At the beginning of the investigation, China said it was interested in information on how both Windows and Office were bundled, about compatibility between the two and other unnamed concerns.

China’s most recent demands haven’t been clarified or spelled out, but SAIC has asked Microsoft to submit their “defense in a timely manner.”

God knows what they need to defend, or what Microsoft needs to respond to.

Some are speculating that this is retaliation due to Microsoft retiring Windows XP and discontinuing support for it to any and all customers – including the Chinese government and its citizens. China had asked Microsoft to extend XP’s lifespan. Microsoft refused. China said, “pretty please;” and Microsoft STILL said no. China has banned the use of Windows 8 on any government computers.

Microsoft is heavily pushing the adoption of Windows 10 around the world, and China is no exception to this marketing strategy. A short while ago, as of this writing, Microsoft expanded a partnership with one of China’s largest defense firms where it would license Windows 10 to government agencies and some state owned corporations in the energy, telecommunications and transportation industries.

While this is a serious issue, and while Microsoft is giving this issue the appropriate level of priority, it seems as though Microsoft could make all of this go away if they simply provided continued Windows XP support to the Chinese government.

I’m pretty certain, however, that capitulation isn’t a consideration for Microsoft, for a number of different reasons, the most important being

  1. Microsoft isn’t providing preferred XP support to anyone
  2. Microsoft is pushing the world’s Windows users to Windows 10
  3. Windows XP has been heavily pirated in China

Given all of this – and especially the last two points – Microsoft doesn’t really have any incentive TO capitulate. I know I wouldn’t want to if I were Satya Nadella.

Until SAIC can specify what they want Microsoft to respond to, I’m not certain how anyone would reasonably respond to this – in a timely manner or not.

What do you think? Is China’s SAIC just ticked off that their XP PC’s are unsupported? Does Microsoft have anything tangible to worry about in China? What do you think the final outcome will be?

Why don’t you meet me in the discussion area below and let me know what you think?

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