Tag: app

Hacker takes control of Aussie gay app

There are fears in the gay community that a popular “meat-market” smartphone app might be used to out millions of users.

The Grindr app was designed to allow gay men to meet other gay men who may be just metres away by using their smartphone’s Global Positioning System (GPS) as a gayda.

However a Sydney hacker has managed to turn over the system and gained access to intimate personal chats, explicit photos and private information of users.

It is thought that the app has about a million users.

Apparently the hacker discovered a way to log in as another user, impersonate that user, chat and send photos on their behalf.

According to the Sydney Morning Herald  the same vulnerabilities are also present in Blendr which is the straight version of the app. One security expert told SMH that both apps had “no real security” and were “poorly designed”.

The founder of the apps, Joel Simkhai, conceded both were vulnerable and he was rushing to release a patch to fix the problems.

However he did not know until the weekend that text chats could be monitored and claimed the company had never experienced a “major breach” in which a large portion of users were affected.

The Sydney hacker opened a website that listed users’ Grindr pseudonyms, passwords, their personal favourites, bookmarked friends and allowed them to be impersonated, and thus have messages sent and received without their knowledge. At one point, the website also allowed users’ profile pictures to be replaced.

So far the hacker has been using the flaw to prank Grindr users by changing their profile pictures of to explicit images resulting in them being banned.

But the potential to use the flaw for blackmail, or queer bashing is high. 

Google pulls Gmail app

Just hours after launching its Gmail for iOS app, Google yanked it from the iTunes app store saying that it contained a bug.

The search outfit tweeted that it was sorry and had pulled the app to fix the problem.

Apple users were confused after the Gmail app displayed an error that read: “no valid ‘aps-environment’ entitlement string found for application.” This error appeared to refer to push notifications, such as displaying the number of unread messages on the app icon.

While the rest of the app functioned as intended, many Apple fanboys went ballistic on various bulletin boards.

The app could not host email on the user’s device, and was different from the interface you get when visiting Gmail using Safari.

Writing in his bog, Gmail Product Manager Matthew Izatt said that everyone who’s already installed the app can continue to use it and a new version will be out soon.

However it seems strange that a much-delayed app was launched with buggy code and a lack of native email hosting. Even stranger was how it got through Apple’s rigorous app checking process. 

Cult of Apple comes under the spotlight

An influential actor who sells out his one man shows dealing with the dark underbelly of humanity has been packing out the Sydney Opera house with his Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.

Mike Daisey has been performing monologues for 15 years on topics ranging from 9/11 to Nikola Tesla to Scientology creator L. Ron Hubbard but has turned his attention to the Apple Cargo cult and the way it makes its toys in Chinese sweatshops.

Daisey toured the factories posing as a businessman and found people being worked to death to satisfy Apple fanboy gadget lust.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Heraldthe actor who was famous for making Steve Woz cry said that people who did know about the conditions in which their gadgets were made had “grown to accept the situation” and engaged in a “sort of denialism”, telling themselves

Needless to say he has attracted the anger of Apple fanboys who claim he is singling out Apple when the rest of the technology industry is just as guilty. He ignored the fact that the suicide rate at the Foxconn factories is lower than the reported official average in China.

Daisey said that Apple fanboys had the most amazing moral and ethical equivalency. If they raised the blinds just a little bit and see with human eyes and they could be an enormous force for actually getting real change to happen. Instead they choose to remain children playing with toys –  it’s infantilism of the highest order, he said.

He said that it is an unbelievably pathetic defence to say Apple is responsible for atrocities but so are other companies, he said, adding Apple should lead the industry into a more ethical approach.

While Woz has seen the show and said it changed his life, Apple CEO Tim Cook made a statement that if it didn’t run on ESPN or CNBC, and he hadn’t seen it. Daisey points out that means that Cook would only acknowledge what he is doing to his workers if there was a mainstream television article on it. 

Apple cracks down on truth-telling app

Fruity toymaker Apple has reacted badly to a app which points out how its gizmos are built in Chinese sweatshops.

Phone Story, a new iPhone game app, was launched then banned on the same day by the iTunes App Store.

The App, called Phone Story, takes players on a tour of the darkside of iPhone manufacture. This includes the mining of blood minerals by children, toxic recycling centres in developing nations, suicide-inducing working conditions of Chinese factories.

“Phone Story is an educational game about the dark side of your favourite smart phone. Follow your phone’s journey around the world and fight the market forces in a spiral of planned obsolescence,” the site says. 

The app  was designed to raise cash and awareness for the victims of the Apple cargo cult.

According to the site, all of the revenues raised go directly to workers’ organisations and other non-profits that are working to stop the horrors represented in the game.

The first group to receive any cash were meant to be SACOM, the Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehaviour, a group that have been strenuously working on the Foxconn case.

We can see why Jobs’ Mob would want to repress such an app. After all it does not want to remind its fanboys what its policies do to other humans.

However Apple need not worry. Most fanboys don’t really care if a Pakistani dies of cancer because of their shiny toy addiction. Who cares if people in a Chinese factory throw themselves off buildings because life creating an iPhone so that there is a high enough mark up for Apple, is hell on toast?  What does it matter that you measure the production of a product in terms of how many were killed making it

It is the nature of the Apple cargo cult for its members to see themselves as better than everyone else because they have a technology toy. Nike suffered badly from “sweat shop” revelations. Apple fanboys continue to support the company even knowing where their products come from. 

Chinese hit iPhone with propaganda

The glorious Chinese armed forces are turning out a propaganda app for the iPhone.

China’s Ministry of Defence announced it was releasing an official app for iPhones and iPads to let users keep up on People’s Liberation Army (PLA) doings.

Basically it is a newsreader app that lets users view press releases, pictures and video from official military outlets like the PLA Daily newspaper.

Chatting to the China Daily, Peng Guangqian, a retired PLA general and a strategist at China’s Academy of Military Science, said that cooperation with a cool company like Apple will help the military be more hip and transparent.

However there are some slight problems with Guangquian’s cunning plan. Firstly Steve Jobs does not approve of other totalitarian governments spreading propaganda on his tool and has banned the application.

This means that it is only possible for the Chinese to get their message out on jailbroken iPhones and Jobs will never give his blessing to those.

This means that the army is hoping for individuals who stand up to authoritarian regimes to buy its propaganda tool and read how wonderful its authoritarian regime actually is.

There’s no word yet on an app for the rival Android mobile operating system. It is somewhat telling that China is keener to do business with Apple and does not want the more open saucy Android. It might have something to do with the fact that Google is not on its Christmas Card list. 

Judge rules that app store is not confusing enough

A US Judge has committed heresy against the one true Apple faith and refused to issue an injunction against the online retailer Amazon.com.

Apple had commanded the Judge to re-enforce its religious rights to the word “app store” – which it claims was handed to humanity by Steve Jobs within its walled garden of delights.

It had called on the US justice system to smite Amazon for leading Jobs’ chosen people astray.

He feared that people might visit Amazon’s app store expecting to find products blessed by Steve and there only find a darkly splendid void of Android apps.

Amazon claimed that the phrase app store was purely generic and everyone in the software industry knew that it had nothing to do with the Apple faith, and thus the term had no legal protection.

But Jobs’ Mob ordered the federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction to stop Amazon from using the name, which Apple says is trademark protected.

While U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton did not agree that the term was purely generic she did not believe that Apple had proven its followers or developers were that stupid to confuse Amazon’s services with Apple’s Walled Garden of Delights.

It is a shame really. All Apple had to do was show them the attached documentary and it could have proven its fans could be confused, finding their way to the gents without instructions from Steve Jobs about what they had to do. 

Still, this means that the Amazon app row will now be on hold until next year. Hamilton set a trial date for October 2012.

Apple unlikely to win App Store case

Fruity Cargo-cult Apple’s attempts to save its flagging business model from the Amazon and Android steam-roller by claiming it owns the word “app store” appear to be drowning before they have really begun.

Apple wants to stop Amazon.com from using Apple’s App Store name through a trademark lawsuit.

Jobs’ Mob said that Amazon has improperly used Apple’s App Store name to steal its software developers and confuse users.

However, according to Reuters,  Oakland federal court District Judge Phyllis Hamilton said Apple will have a hell of a job trying to prove that its users are so stupid that they could not tell Apple’s App Store from Amazon’s Appstore for Android.

Hamilton did not make a final ruling at the hearing, but said that she would have a look at the papers given to her first.

A good defence for Apple would be that since its users pay three times the mark up costs, queue for days in the rain for products that they could order online and spend their days writing angry letters to newspapers saying how good Apple is, they are easily confused.

All it would take is for Apple’s briefs to bring in a user who got married in an Apple store and Hamilton’s concerns would be over.

Apple has also asserted a claim of unfair competition, and wants to stop Amazon from using the App Store mark. 

US Army picks Android

The US military is preparing to arm troops with the latest in mobile technology, developing a mobile device based on the Android OS.

While iPhones are unquestionably the popular choice for preening media types hanging out in Soho, it seems that the Google system is the weapon of choice for military folk for hunting down insurgents in Fallujah.

A prototype device called the Joint Battle Command-Platform being developed by MITRE is already undergoing tests with Android used to run the software as part of a bid to reduce the amount of weighty equipment being lugged around by troops.

There are also already a variety of uses for the smartphone such as apps for keeping track of friendly forces, no doubt also handy for the US’s cannon fodder allies, and ‘critical messaging’ which can exchange important data such as medevac requests.

It is said that the phones will also offer a “bassline suite of applications” to include supporting apps such as Open Office for document viewing.

Furthermore the development kit, named the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment, will soon be open to app creators, with Army officials suggesting a July release of the kit to developers.

“Using the Mobile /Handheld CE Product Developers Kit, we’re going to allow the third-party developers to actually develop capabilities that aren’t stovepiped,” said Lt. Col. Mark Daniels, product manager for JBC-P.

Of course as with any technology there will be concerns over the ability to keep data secure, though continued development before implementation in the field will seek to address this.

Some have been critical of Android, sometimes viewed as lax with app security, though this is primarily due to the vulnerable rogue third party apps, and it is unlikely that military phones would be open in such a way, not least to stop privates playing on Angry Birds rather than shooting at people.

Army officials are already boasting of how tough the phones are, offering an alternative to the rather cumbersome Nett Warrior suit’s array of gadget and sensors, weighing in at around two pounds.

App makers flout privacy laws, federal investigation underway

Apple and Google are being asked to provide information on app makers as part of a federal clamp down on consumer’s personal information being shared without their knowledge.

Federal prosecutors in New Jersey are investigating a number of app makers for devices such as the iPhone to stop the gathering of information such as age, gender and location without the user being fully aware of what information is being taken and what will be done with it.

Pandora Media is one of the firms that a source close to WSJ has revealed as being under investigation, with the company acknowledging that it is part of an investigation, though a wide reaching one on an “industry-wide basis to the publishers of numerous other smartphone applications”.

Another app producer, Anthony Campitit of Pumpkin Maker also said that he had received contact from authorites on the subject, though said that “they’re just doing information-gathering to get a better understanding” of the industry.

“We’re not doing anything wrong and neither is anyone else doing anything wrong,” he said.

Apple and Google, which both distribute apps through their online stores, have apparently been asked to provide information on apps sold via their services, though no comment was available from either.

It will be interesting to see how much help Google is willing to give considering its own history of appropriating customer’s information without them knowing.

A test cited by the WSJ showed that of 101 apps looked at, 56 transmitted the phone’s unique device identifier to other companies without the knowledge of the user, with five percent sending further personal details such as age.

Pandora is thought to be one such firm which transmitted all of this information, through both the Google and Apple version of its apps, after it had been gathered at registration, meaning that it could be in contravention of the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

It is thought that the probe into the use of such information could potentially lead to criminal charges – as it could be argued that the app makers essentially hacked into user’s cell phones, according to legal experts. We haven’t tried the News of the World app yet, if there is such a thing.

What appears to be a more likely outcome than prosecution would be certain concessions from firms deemed to be involved, with guarantees of ceasing to act in this sneaky fashion likely to placate judges.

It is also thought that users themselves could take up civil cases against app makers which are flouting privacy laws, alongside complaints from the Federal Trade Commission.

“Hopefully this will bring about a big change in the industry and make companies be more responsible in what data is being collected,” said Ginger McCall, an assistant director at privacy advocacy group Electronic Privacy Information Center.

Apple pulls gay-bashing app

The fruity peddler of broken iDreams, Apple has finally twigged that it might have scored a bit of an own goal supporting an app which aimed to remove gay people from the world by curing them of their “mental illness”.

Apple thought there was nothing wrong with the app and even recommended it for children by giving it four+ stars, which means it did not consider it offensive.

It seemed a little bewildered when the app became subject to a petition signed by 146,000 people calling the Exodus International software to be pulled.

Exodus claims that homosexuality is “a multi-causal, developmental issue and that any individual can experience freedom through the support of caring individuals and the healing power of Jesus Christ.” The app aims to give users “a useful resource for men, women, parents, students and ministry leaders” to “reconcile their faith with their sexual behaviour.”

The App has been given away since February but mysteriously was pulled last night. Apple has not commented on why it pulled it after giving it such a good ranking.

A lobby group, Change.com wrote to Steve Jobs, the Apple chief executive, pointing out that Apple doesn’t allow racist or anti-Semitic apps in its app store.

“Yet it gives the green light to an app targeting vulnerable LGBT youth with the message that their sexual orientation is a ‘sin that will make your heart sick’ and a ‘counterfeit'”.

The letter said that Apple clearly had a double standard that has the potential for devastating consequences.

However the app might have had other problems for Apple, over and above infuriating gay people. Dr Gary Remafedi, director of the Youth and AIDS Projects told the Minneapolis-St Paul Star Tribune that Exodus had distorted his research into homosexuality and told Apple to remove the it.

In a letter to Apple, Remafedi, director of the youth and AIDS projects and a professor of pediatrics at the University of Minnesota, said that the app “erroneously cites my research in support of claims that homosexuality can be changed. … Associating my work with that of the ex-gay ministry and other unfounded treatments is professionally injurious and grievous.”

Remafedi has had a gutsful of people misrepresentating of his research and has had “100 percent” success in stopping them. In other words,  lawyers get called.

Apple had apparently told him that “it was on it”.