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Why you should care about the Apple-FBI legal fight

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By now, you’ve probably heard of the San Bernardino shooting. If you haven’t, then let me refresh your memory. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in an apparent terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.

It’s one of the more prominent acts of terrorism that have hit the U.S. because of one important evidence: the Apple iPhone 5c used by one of the shooters that was found on the scene. It may or may not contain information, but the significance of that piece of technology is not about what it holds but what it represents.

Setting a bad precedent

A few weeks ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that they couldn’t unlock the iPhone 5c through sheer brute force, i.e., constantly guessing the 4-digit passcode until they get it right. The agency said they couldn’t risk wiping the data with more tries, a security feature built into the device by Apple.

And because the data on the 5c wasn’t synced with iCloud, the FBI had to find alternative methods of accessing it. Their idea — a radical one — was to ask Apple to create a special tool that:

  • allows the FBI to guess as many passwords as they like without the data on the phone being wiped; and
  • lets the iPhone connect to an external device, such as a desktop or laptop, where the FBI can run a script that guesses passwords quickly.

With the advancement of technology, it was only a matter of time before information security became a national security issue. The problem here is that Apple no longer has the ability to access encrypted data on iDevices running iOS 8 or higher.

Even if they could, Apple firmly believes they shouldn’t, as explicitly stated on their website via an open letter penned by CEO Tim Cook:

In today’s digital world, the ‘key’ to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.

The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.

The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.

The FBI invoked the All Writs Act of 1789 — a century-old U.S. federal statute that has been used to practically force technology companies to cooperate with the government — to get a court order.

Personal data in the wrong hands

Our phones hold an unbelievable amount of information. They have become windows to our lives. Our location, our messages, our pictures, bank records, statements, emails, and everything else in between? Chances are, all of them can be found on our phones.

In the wrong hands, that data could destroy our lives. Which is why the biggest smartphone OS developers — namely Google, Apple, and Microsoft — have made data security a big, if not the biggest, part of their respective feature lists.

With the FBI asking Apple to create a special system to bypass the tech company’s security setup, that system will be out there. That’s partly why Apple is afraid; even if they could create one, it would undermine everything they worked hard for. Once the system is created, nothing is stopping the FBI — or anybody who gets their hands on the software — to use it for personal or criminal reasons.

The FBI suggested solutions to the problem:

  • there will be a custom ID, i.e., each custom OS can only be installed on a specific phone;
  • operation of the software will be done only at Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, California; and
  • any software update needs Apple’s approval to install.

But most security experts agree this isn’t just going to be about one phone. From the Verge:

That’s a nervous-making thought for security professionals, since no single system is ever thought to be entirely impenetrable. New vulnerabilities pop up in software all the time, and for the iPhone, they can sell for as much as $1 million. iPhone security expert Jonathan Zdziarski says there’s a real concern that an undisclosed vulnerability or existing exploit could be used in a way that Apple and the FBI can’t predict. Even if the signature system isn’t broken outright, the same tricks used by the FBI’s tool could be repurposed to give malware a stronger foothold on a targeted iPhone. ‘It’s not about just stealing one tool,’ says Zdziarski. ‘There’s a lot going on in software like this, and having a direct tap into how Apple can disable functions moves [attackers] along at light speed.’

But more than the system going into the wrong hands, it’s about that system ever existing in the first place. Because once the FBI wins the legal battle, it will set a terrible precedent for all tech companies. It tells them that the government, in their infinite benevolence, will be able to ask for the court order again and again. Once that’s possible, no matter what the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency says, they’ll have the power to lord over everyone’s privacy just because they’re the government.

And remember Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who leaked evidence of the U.S. government practically spying on everybody? Yeah.

That’s why you should care. If the court order holds and Apple can’t fight it back legally, then say goodbye to actual privacy, at least whatever is left of it anyway.

Whether you’re here in the Philippines or not, your privacy will be compromised. Whether it’s the government or some crooks who are spying on you, it won’t matter. Unless you stop using smartphones or any other devices that connect to the Internet, your privacy and your personal life will not be your own.

So pray that Apple wins this injunction and hope that you still hold control over your life after all of this is said and done. Because if they don’t, hackers will be the least of your worries.

[irp posts=”4932″ name=”Unhappy customer walks into Apple Store, destroys Apple products”]

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Amazon Kindle PaperWhite Signature Edition Review

The best Kindle for every bookworm?

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It’s been a while ever since the Amazon Kindle PaperWhite had a refresh. To be particular about it, its 10th-Generation model was released last 2018 — merely three years ago!

This 2021, the new 11th-Gen Kindle PaperWhite offers better upgrades including a larger and brighter display, as well as USB-C and wireless charging support.

But are those enough to make you upgrade? Or should you wait for the next version of Kindle Oasis instead?

Head over to our unboxing and in-depth review of the Amazon Kindle PaperWhite and watch it in 4K too.

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The Mi TV P1 is a great first TV

A good self reward

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Mi TV P1

I still vaguely remember the first TV I ever bought. It was, if I recall correctly, a 24-inch Samsung TV. That was already a big deal for me at the time. I just landed a producer job at an online news outlet and got my first major salary bump. As someone who enjoyed watching TV shows and movies, I thought I’d treat myself by graduating from watching on a laptop.

The TV wasn’t anything crazy. It wasn’t smart either. At the time, Smart TVs weren’t as prevalent as they are today and it would have cost maybe two months worth of my salary then. But this TV I bought had what I needed. It can read from flash drives and external hard drives, and it has an HDMI port. That thing cost me somewhere between PhP 15,000 to PhP 18,000.

Fast forward to today, I would have been able to afford a pretty big screen 4K TV now with that money. Specifically, the Xiaomi Mi TV P1. Here are the price ranges for its various sizes:

  • 55″ — PhP 24,990
  • 50″ — PhP 22,990
  • 43″ — PhP 18,990

The same TV line also has a 32-inch variant at PhP 10,990 but it isn’t 4K so I excluded it from the list. By these standards, I would have been able to afford the 43-incher. Or perhaps, I would have opted to save up a little more to grab either of the 50-inch or 55-inch variants.

But even the 43-incher is already worlds better than what I had bought back then. I’m sure it’s a fantastic option for most people today. We already have an extensive review of the Mi TV P1. But indulge me in this little piece to share why I think it’s a great first TV.

Elevate your entertainment

Mi TV P1

One of my primary considerations for buying a TV was to give my laptop (and perhaps it’s a smartphone now for most people today) a break. I think it goes a long way to prolonging your laptop’s lifespan if after a long day of work, you’re not pushing it further to watch a few episodes of your favorite series.

At the time I was religiously following TV series like Suits, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, and many, many more. It was my way to unwind and destress at night. The kind of shows or content we watch has shifted a little to more K-Dramas and plenty of YouTube creators. But whatever you choose to watch to unwind, it’s almost always better on a TV.

Mi TV P1

Other than anime, and whatever’s on Netflix. I use the TV to stream PLENTY of TWICE

The UHD screen on the Mi TV P1 is no joke. It even looks good even in brightly lit rooms. You can also tweak the settings to get the kind of picture that your eyes find pleasing. My personal settings lean towards a vivid picture quality but not too much that it compromises the cinematic integrity of what I’m watching.

It’s just an overall treat to your eyes. And watching shows and movies just feels more natural this way.

Encourages legitimate streaming 

Mi TV P1

Squid Game, the biggest show on Netflix, is best watched on TV

Let’s face it, we didn’t always access our favorite shows from legitimate sources. Owning a Smart TV discourages that old behavior. The ease of access to streaming sites like Netflix, HBO Go, and Viu is near frictionless. And there are a variety of subscription plans that fit your needs.

You can even be creative with your streaming budget. You can rotate among these apps every month or so. You’ll just have to plan which shows you want to watch, and line them up to when you want to watch. What I do is I have Netflix on retainer so I always have it, then month-to-month I switch between HBO Go and Viu. It just depends on where the shows I want to watch are.

It’s so much easier to fire up the TV, hit a streaming app, and watch away vs having to acquire shows in less than ideal means.

What’s more, you can install ExpressVPN directly on the TV. With it you can change regions and gain access to content and apps you otherwise would not have access to. If you’re worried about the subscription fee, there’s a nice offer here.

Home entertainment centerpiece

Mi TV P1

It’s also decent for gaming. And even if you don’t have a console, you can install supported gaming apps from the Google Play Store

Looking back, I really wish the Mi TV P1 was already available when I made my first TV purchase. I’m constantly fascinated by how much of what was then considered high-end tech is now available to more people.

What Xiaomi has here is pretty much more of the same of what they usually offer — a product with a fantastic price-to-performance ratio. The Mi TV P1 is no premium TV, but I’d argue it’s the best value for money you can get.

If you’re looking to splurge a little on a big ticket item, the Mi TV P1 is an easy recommendation. If I were back in my situation as a young professional looking to reward myself, this is certainly it.

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5 ways to enjoy Huawei’s MatePad gift bundles

There’s plenty to do!

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Tablets are always a convenient tool for users to enjoy, whether they’re looking for entertainment or simply unwinding.

As the holiday season is fast-approaching, Huawei is offering customers gift bundles for its MatePad tablet series for them to score exciting promos while saving on huge freebies.

Whether it’s a gift for yourself, an early Christmas gift, or an investment for the next year, the Huawei gift bundles campaign includes everything from budget tablets to premium ones to help grant those wishes.

Five ways to enjoy

With more than 141,000 apps available on AppGallery, users can unlock new ways to be entertained and inspired at their fingertips especially nowadays with safety guidelines outside still in place.

As the year winds down, here are five ways to begin a new journey in 2022 with the HUAWEI MatePad series:

1. Reconnect with your loved ones online

 

Stay connected to your friends and family over the holidays with a variety of essential social media platforms ready for download on AppGallery and Petal Search.

That includes WhatsApp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, Tiktok, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit and Twitter!

2. Catch a movie marathon

MatePad Pro 12.6

Whether it means staying up to date with local dramas on MeWatch or catching the latest blockbusters on HBO Go, keep your serotonin flowing with the immersive displays and sound systems tuned by Harmon Kardon on the Huawei MatePad tablets.

Apps that you could consider include HUAWEI Video, Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Spotify, and Twitch so you don’t miss out on safe and sound Christmas bonding sessions at home.

3. Maximize productivity

With apps like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Office, Teams, and Outlook at your disposal, staying productive amidst the Christmas rush is a breeze.

You can also keep an eye on your kid’s tablet use with a smart monitoring solution like Plano or amp your multi-tasking game with Huawei’s multi-window and multi-screen collaboration feature on the tablets.

4. Explore your creative side

Huawei MatePad

With infinite possibilities on a digital canvas, you don’t have to worry about paper wastage or harming the environment.

Whether you’re a pro or just starting to find your inner artist, the Huawei M-Pencil gives a realistic drawing experience equipped with pixel-level precision.

Take a stroke of faith with Nebo, ibisPaint X, Concepts available from AppGallery.

5. Find your flow with journaling

The world can get a little noisy at times. Take a moment to disconnect and develop a calmer mind through journaling with suggested apps like Journey, Grid Diary, and Calm.

Gift bundles to choose from

Huawei has four packages available depending on what plans you have for a tablet. All deals include a free gift bundle worth as much as SG$ 396.

MatePad model Retail price Free gift bundle Best for
HUAWEI MatePad SGSG$ 448

(U.P. SGSG$ 498)

Get it for only SG$ 398 during the Lazada Huawei Brand Sale from October 26 to 28

Smart Magnetic Keyboard worth SG$ 148 Families looking for a

budget-friendly tablet

for work and for fun.

Includes a Kirin 820

chipset, Wi-Fi 6 and

EMUI 10.1.

HUAWEI MatePad 11 SG$ 698 Worth SG$ 346:

  • Huawei M-Pencil (2nd gen)
  • Smart Magnetic Keyboard
Young adults and

students looking for a

reliable productivity

tool.

Includes a 120 Hz

refresh rate for a

smoother visual

experience and a DCI –

P3 colour gamut

feature.

HUAWEI MatePad Pro 10.8” SG$ 998 Worth SG$ 254:

  • MatePad Pro Flip cover
  • Huawei M-Pencil (2nd gen)
  • Huawei Mini Speaker
An all-rounded

productivity machine at

home, school, or the

office.

Includes 10.8 inch 2K

HUAWEI FullView

Display with a 4.9mm

ultra slim bezel body.

Up to 11 hours of

battery life.

HUAWEI MatePad Pro 12.6” SG$ 1,398 Worth SG$ 396:

  • Huawei M-Pencil (2nd gen)
  • MatePad pro 12.6” Smart Magnetic Keyboard
Professionals and

creatives running

sophisticated programs

on-screen.

Features a powerful

10,050mAh battery

capacity and a large

12.6 inch OLED

FullView Display.

Pricing and availability

The promotion will run from October 26 to November 30, 2021 and will be available at all Huawei Authorized Stores, selected consumer electronic stores including Best Denki, Challenger & Hachi.tech, COURTS, Gain City, Harvey Norman, Sprint-Cass, and Huawei official online stores in Lazada and Shopee.

SEE ALSO: 11 most notable things about the Huawei MatePad 11

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