Warning over iPhone apps that can silently turn on cameras at any time

The new iPhone X will feature an advanced front camera that can build up 3D pictures of faces CREDIT:GETTY IMAGES

Apple has been urged to change the way in which iPhone apps are granted access to the phone’s camera after a security researcher demonstrated how apps can secretly record photos and videos without the user knowing.

Felix Krause, an Austrian developer who works for Google, built an app that was able to take pictures of its user every second and upload them, without notifying the user. He called it a “privacy loophole that can be abused by iOS apps”.

When an app wants to access the camera, for example to scan a credit card or take a profile picture during the set-up process, the iPhone user must give the app permission, in the same way that apps must ask to access the camera roll, location and contacts and to send notifications. Once allowed, it has to be turned off via the settings menu.

The system is similar to the permissions required by apps on Android. Google has recently deleted several apps that surreptitiously recorded users and masqueraded as legitimate apps.

But Krause said that once an app has been granted initial access, it can take photos and videos whenever it is opened up. Unlike on Mac computers, which have a small green light next to the camera when it is being used, there is no indication that an app is recording videos or taking photos, or when it sends them elsewhere.

Facebook app permissions
App permissions are indefinite, apply to both the front and back camera, and can be used for photo and video

The iPhone’s camera app permissions do not differentiate between the phone’s front and back camera. Allowing camera permissions can grant extra access in the latest version of iOS, which has a facial recognition engine that could allow apps to detect emotions.

The permissions system is not a bug or a flaw – it works in exactly the way Apple has designed it – but Krause said malicious apps could take advantage of it to surreptitiously record users.

He demonstrated this by building an app that took a photo of the person using it every second, and which also ran a facial recognition program to detect the person using it.

He warned that other apps could monitor users’ emotions as they scroll through a social network news feed, record what they are saying, or live stream video of them in the bathroom as they tap away at a smartphone game.

Krause said Apple should introduce a system of temporary permissions – one that allows apps to take a picture during the set-up process, but revokes it after a period of time – or to introduce a warning light or notification to the iPhone that tells people when they are being recorded.

There are few examples of apps being found to secretly record users – apart from those specifically designed for this such as Stealth Cam. The practice is banned by Apple’s App Store guidelines, which state that a “reasonably conspicuous audio, visual or other indicator must be displayed to the user as part of the Application to indicate that a Recording is taking place”.

Krause claimed it would be easy to hide the behaviour, allowing it to make it through Apple’s approval process.

Facebook users have often claimed that the social network is secretly listening to their conversations in an attempt to better target adverts, something that Facebook itself has denied.

Some privacy conscious users have taken to covering up the cameras on their computers in an attempt to prevent being spied on, including Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg.

Krause recently demonstrated how malicious apps could steal a user’s iCloud password by appearing to be an official command. The developer works at Google but says his work on security is a hobby, in no way affiliated with his employer.

Apple did not comment.

[“Source-telegraph”]

Buying a used cars? These simple tricks could save you time and money

If it’s not the plethora of models and versions available – plus diesels, petrols and hybrids – the choices can seem almost endless before you have even got to the detailed decisions of a used car’s mileage or condition.

However, the reality is that while there are plenty of hurdles to trip you up in the used car market, there is also plenty you can do to help yourself too.

Do a little homework on where and how to fi nd the best deal and you can give yourself a helping hand before you have even taken a test drive.

Buying a used carGETTY STOCK

Buying a used car needn’t cause headaches, just follow a few simple rules

1. CHOICES

The first steps are the most obvious. What do you need your car for?

There is little point in buying a small city car if you are likely to spend hours pounding the motorway but likewise there is no point in buying an expensive sports car if it sits in the train station car park for 90 per cent of the week.

Think about why you are buying this car and why you need it in the first place.

Do you need to regularly transport your family or is this car largely for you alone? Will anyone else be driving it and what are their needs?

Do you need a small hatchback or a large estate, four-wheel drive for tricky lanes or perhaps a crossover for that high-up driving position?

Is your situation likely to change soon with a new baby, children leaving home or even a job switch and how will that affect matters?

Of course, much of the above will be dictated by your budget and what you can afford but give it some serious thought as the last thing you want to do is to have to go through the whole process again.

Used carGETTY

Hybrid and electric cars are still not for everyone

2. FUEL FOR THOUGHT

Although hybrid and electric cars have gained massively in popularity and sales in recent years, they are still not for everyone.

Electric cars, while having improved, are still limited by their range compared to petrols or diesels and if you are doing a lot of motorway miles, then they might prove pricier to run than you think.

Look at online owner forums and read road tests to get a clearer picture of which might suit you.

The same goes for the age-old petrol versus diesel question too.

The latter might boast a better fuel economy at the pumps but you might need to be doing some serious annual mileage to realise that saving.

Some local authorities are penalising diesel drivers too when parking, so be sure to check.

Buying a used carGETTY

Buying a used car from a franchised dealer is undoubtedly the safest place to go shopping

3. BUYING FROM A DEALER

Buying a used car from a franchised dealer is undoubtedly the safest place to go shopping for your next wheels but it is probably the most expensive too.

They will have a larger stock, especially of newer models usually in excellent condition but be sure to shop around to get the best deal for you.

By comparison, independent dealers will be more affordable and usually feature slightly older cars but they cannot usually offer quite the same back-up with their warranties.

Some will be able to sell you independent warranties for a little peace of mind but make sure you read the small print to find out what is covered before signing on the dotted line.

Used carsGETTY STOCK

If you are after a mainstream model, then a car supermarket is a great choice

4. CAR SUPERMARKETS

If you are after a mainstream model, then a car supermarket such as Cargiant is a great choice.

The cars might not have the same level of care and attention bestowed upon them as a dealership but what you will have is great value and plenty of choice.

Look beyond the odd scuffed alloy wheel or higher-than-average mileage and you can fi nd some bargains.

The downsides?

The cars might require some cosmetic TLC but they are a great way to save on time and shoe leather especially with mainstream models as you can see lots of cars in one place at the same time. Instead of looking at one or two Ford Focuses or VW Golfs, you might have ten to choose from, so if you need a car in a hurry, they are a great opportunity.

10. Ford F-150

5. PURCHASING PRIVATELY

Aside from car auctions – which are certainly not for the faint-hearted – buying a car privately is probably the riskiest option here – but it’s also probably the cheapest.

The good news is that private sales can sometimes realise some real well-loved, one-owner bargains.

The bad news is that it can unearth some of the worst cars too. Before going to look at any car make sure you ask about its provenance, details and mileage of the car beforehand so that you can do an HPI check (to verify the car’s mileage and finance status).

Independent inspections by fi rms such as the AA and small garages are often available for a fee but rely on your common sense and you will not go too far wrong – if a car looks and sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.

Check every detail with a keen eye and make sure you take it on a decent test drive, running through all the gears and asking the owner about it.

If you are not confi dent enough to do it on your own, take a friend (two pairs of eyes are always better than one) and if they are mechanically-minded, so much the better. Whichever route you choose, though, when buying your next used car, do not buy a car that you are not 100 per cent happy with.

If it does not feel right, just walk away – there will always be another ten just around the corner.

The power to buy or not is always in your hands, never forget that.

[“Source-express”]

It’s time we educated children for the future, rather than limiting them to subjects of the past

virtual reality

In March, the House of Lords told us what has long been obvious: that we need to pay far more attention to the internet by coordinating our efforts towards improving children’s “digital literacy”.

A report, published by the Lords Communications Committee, states that students’ lives – “from health to education, from socialising to entertainment” – are now “mediated through technology”.

It also suggests that the best way to protect children online is through mandatory content control filters and privacy settings, and that a new children’s “digital tsar” should be appointed.

All of this is commendable and, like so many education initiatives, long overdue. But if we are going to teach children to use the internet properly we need to do more than controlling its ‘threats’.

Whether we like it or not, artificial intelligence, algorithms, advances in genetic engineering, nanotechnology and biology are already shaping our world at a pace we can scarcely comprehend. Rather than adding another ‘subject’, we should be looking at the whole purpose of education and asking whether our current systems are still fit for purpose.

For generations now we have viewed children as either tabula rasa, blank slates waiting to be filled with knowledge, or, as those who adhere to innatism maintain, minds brimming with knowledge from day one.

Both philosophies fed into the assembly line pedagogy, funneling talent into the narrow and restricted neck of an hourglass, to prepare them for world of work and leisure. What is increasingly evident, however, is that this approach is inadequate, even for those leaving school in the next decade.

Yes, by all means, let us give the internet a far more prominent place in our curriculum (although I doubt whether including it as part of the many-headed beast that is PSHE is the right place), and better still, embed it across the curriculum.

But let’s look further, much further, at what we are teaching, and its relevance over the next decade. We need to ask: should we even continue to teach the “3 R’s” in their conventional form.

In his recent TED talk “The Future of Learning”, education guru Sam Chaltain said that we “have to prepare our children for their future opposed to our past”. And that, clearly, is the challenge we face.

While we know change is coming (and the J curve for knowledge is likely to be with us by 2030), we do not appear to have a unified approach on how to prepare for it. Instead of being reactive, education has to become proactive, even predictive, looking beyond what we already know to a rapidly changing future.

As Yuval Noah Harari notes in his book ‘ Homo Deus’ , a report prepared in 2013 by Oxford researchers Frey and Osborne revealed that up to 47 per cent of current US jobs risk being replaced by computers and automation in the next 20 years – including doctors and pharmacists.

While we remain sceptical as to whether humans can really be replaced in such professions, we should take note of the pharmacy that opened in San Franciso in 2011. Providing two million prescriptions in its first year without a single mistake, this new high-tech pharmacy owes its success to the specialised algorithms and iPhones which now run the show.

Bletchley Park to house college for teenage codebreakers

01:27

As many occupations disappear altogether, in the same way that streaming has decimated video and music stores, new professions will undoubtedly surface, but it is likely they will require more flexibility and creativity than our current education system allows.

Artificial intelligence and algorithms are already playing a significant role in our day to day lives, so it will be no surprise when teachers also become surplus to requirements.

Meanwhile, we are so hung up on data that we are wasting huge amounts of human potential, squeezing the creativity out of young minds.  Looking forwards, the workforce of tomorrow will not be judged on their content knowledge, but rather a set of skills and dispositions which enables them to thrive in an economy that is changing, fast.

Recently I was visited by a friend who was New Zealand’s entrepreneur of the year in 2016. When I asked him about the quality of his new and prospective employees, he said his greatest concerns were their inability to problem-solve, their lack of imagination and the analytical skills to address causes rather than just managing the effects.

Sadly there is little in our education system that prepares children for employment now – let alone in 2040, when the world of work will be more complicated still.

So while we may welcome the paper from the House of Lords on internet safety, even accepting that it is reactive rather than pro-active, it is a small step on a very long journey. We know we cannot keep adding to an already full and essentially backward-looking curriculum.

If the students are to succeed in the future, we need to begin considering how we can best teach new competencies, new skills, new applications and new knowledge.

And that starts by acknowledging that today’s education system is still stuck in the past.

[“source-ndtv”]

It’s time to spring-clean your phone apps

Q.  I’m trying to prune my phone’s collection of apps. Any shortcuts to find the ones that should get the hook first?

A. It can be tempting to let apps accumulate on your phone until you start to run out of space, but apps you don’t use still have whatever data you put into them. They’ll still eat up your bandwidth to update themselves. And they will continue to distract you when you’re swiping through the grids of app icons in iOS and Android.

Neither Apple nor Google’s operating systems report which apps have gone ignored the longest, but their tracking of battery and bandwidth usage by apps can offer a rough indication of which ones have retained your attention.

In iOS, you can check each app’s recent battery use in the Settings app by tapping the Battery heading. See the clock icon at the top right of that list? Tap that to see how much time each app has spent in the foreground.

To see how much data each iOS app has used, tap the Cellular heading in the Settings app and scroll down. Unlike the battery data, this is a cumulative list–the running totals you see there can go back years.

In Android, you can see each app’s battery drain since the last charge by swiping down from the top, tapping the battery icon and then tapping the “More Settings” link. To see the data used by each app, swipe down from the top, tap the cellular-signal icon, and then tap “More Settings” and then “Cellular data usage.”

The data you see there will only go back a month at most, although you can also browse records for previous months. Note also that some Android phones may not have the stock interface described here, because too many Android vendors still think they can design a better interface than Google.

But in Android, you can also install apps that will report how much time you spend in particular apps as well as your total time spent interacting with the device–a number that can be either enlightening or horrifying. Among the various possibilities, reviewers have consistently pointed to ZeroDesktop’s free QualityTime.

Friday, it reported that I had spent the most time on a call, followed by Twitter and then Gmail. I had also somehow spent more time in LinkedIn than Instagram, which suggests I should try to have a little more fun with my phone.

Apple doesn’t let iOS apps track the activities of other apps. Kevin Holesh’s free Moment works around that by reminding you to take a screenshot of the Settings app’s battery-usage list each morning; the app then reads the numbers in that image to track your usage over time.

This app will also track your screen time (I spent 4 hours and 20 minutes on my iPad Friday) and how often you pick up your device (38 times Friday). In retrospect, I  probably shouldn’t have spent that much time at my desk.

Rob Pegoraro is a tech writer based out of Washington, D.C. To submit a tech question, e-mail Rob at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/robpegoraro.

[“Source-ksdk”]