Monday, October 9, 2017

Boot Bug in Macs and PC’s

Your Mac or Pc could be at risk. Duo security a leading security agency has recently reported that a number of computers could be at risk from sophisticated attacks on personal data stored in computers due to outdated tech.

Many macs were the subject of this research, with many found not to be updating core firmware. This poses a major problem as these computers could be the subject of organized hacking. Although the software, that is operating systems, are being updated on a regular basis especially with prompts given by the computer itself, the basic firmware is not being updated in some computers.

This firmware is known as Extensible Firmware Interface or EFI in short. What it does is to ensure that the computer starts up and runs the main operating system. What it basically means is that it is the foundation for all the rest of the software programs. Of course this is not a problem that relates to only Apple computers but also to windows run computers. Research shows that windows run computers may be even adversely affected due to the fact that computers are made by a range of manufacturers thereby making it difficult to bring all the security for the firmware under a single umbrella or to follow common standards.

Research of more than seventy thousand has showed that some computers could be at risk from a well- resourced and organized hacker such as foreign governments, for espionage purposes. While it may not pose so much of a threat to house users, it could cause serious problems for big players in the field such as government bodies running on outdated versions, banks, top companies and the like.

The boot bug problem is even more serious because of the fact that it does not inform the user of updates to the firmware. Duo security was alarmed to see that so many macs were susceptible to boot bug. They had to go back and double check the results to ensure that they had reached the right conclusions.

How boot bug came into focus is when researchers studied mac computers to see whether they updated firmware when software was updated, which is supposed to be done automatically when software is updated (No prompts are given to the users to update firmware separately) , they found that few computers were not doing the same. At least 4.2% of the computers tested were not being updated. This led to the question as to why this was not happening. Till date no conclusive answer has been reached.

As many as 16 models of Apple macs have been affected by boot bug. Duo security is now providing various tools to be used to identify boot bug in various organizations. Apple has not only appreciated the finding but is also working alongside the security firm to analyze the cause of boot bug. So far both companies are not able to find the answer for such a problem. Shell scripting for network engineers helps both new and experienced professional network engineers to Bash shell scripting on the Linux operating system.

Apple has addressed the problem by releasing a feature known as High Sierra which is a software that runs in the background and checks every week to see if firmware is being updated. If this is not happening then the user is informed to contact the company.

Apple said in an interview that it is committed to providing the best security possible to their users and is taking steps to rectify the issue.

Apple Investigates Reports of iPhone 8 ‘Splitting Open’

Splitting Open
Image Credit: Magokoro
No Software to fix Static Cracking Sound of Earpiece – iPhone 8

New reports have come up regarding problem that no software update would be capable of fixing the complaints of static cracking sound coming from the earpiece of iPhone 8 users. With the recent release of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, two different cases have been exposed of the splitting open of the phone. An owner of the iPhone 8 Plus in Taiwan had stated that her phone had opened up, shortly after it had been kept to be charged. As per local media, Ms Wu, who had purchased her 64GB rose gold phone, Ms Wu, five days earlier, had plugged the device in her charger and three minutes thereafter the the panel towards the front area had started to bulge and had given way. She had been utilising the appropriate Apple supplied charger cable together with the adaptor during the time of charging. She had shipped over the split phone back to Apple in order that the experts could evaluate the strength of the damage and determine the cause for the same. Another report of the iPhone 8 busting open had come from Japan with Twitter user @Magokoro claiming that his phone had been broken already when he had received the same.

Unverified Rumours on Battery

The images which had been posted to Twitter seemed to portray an iPhone 8 Plus that had the front panel somewhat separated from the phone. The next day, more images of the phone had been posted portraying the damages had got even worse with the screen almost totally moved away from the body of the device. This is definitely not the first time Apple faced problems with one of their latest models. With the release of the iPhone 6 in 2014, there had been several reports that the phone had been vulnerable to bending, which resulted in the hashtag #bendgate trending on social media. As per The Next Web, there had been unverified rumours on the battery which had been utilised in the latest iPhone 8 had been built by the same company which had made the battery for Samsung Galaxy Note 7 and Samsung had to recall after various rumours of explosions.

Consistent With Swollen Battery

Some related that the damage caused to the iPhone 8 seems to be consistent with swollen battery though Apple has still to make an official announcement regarding the matter. Though some of the users have been fast in labelling these instances as #splitgate, they have probably been too quick to jump to conclusion. No visible burn marks has been located on the iPhone 8 which may provide any indication of an explosion similar to the one experienced with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Moreover, any phone which has been manufactured as well as distributed on a massive scale would definitely include some of the defective models. One would probably not wake up to find out that the new iPhone 9 has split up, till Apple intends to resolves the issue or more cases similar to the earlier two reports, may probably come up.

Friday, October 6, 2017

Biological Clock Discoveries by 3 Americans Earn Nobel Prize

Nobel Prize

Biological Clock – Complete New Field of Research

Recently, three American received the Nobel Prize for their discoveries in Physiology or Medicine with regards to the biological clock of the body which gave rise to a complete new field of research, bringing about awareness on the importance of obtaining adequate sleep. Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash together with Michael W. Young had won the 9-million-kronor ($1.1 million) award for their work on discovering genetic mechanisms behind circadian rhythms that gets accustomed to the working of the body to various stages of the day, manipulating sleep, behaviour, hormone levels together with body temperature and metabolism.

The Nobel citation had stated that they were capable of peeking within the biological clock and shed light on its inner workings. As per a Nobel background report the Circadian dysfunction has been connected to sleep disorders and depression, bipolar disorder, cognitive function, together with memory formation as well as some neurological diseases.

The effort of the awardees tends to stem back to 1984 when Rosbash together with Hall while at Brandeis and with Young, had isolated the `period gene’ in fruit flies. Rosbash and Hall had discovered a protein that was determined by a gene accumulated during night and degraded in the daytime. Young had located another `clock gene’ a decade later.

Utilising Fruit Flies

The work on biological clock had been carried out utilising fruit flies. Rosbash, a 73 year old professor at Brandeis University had informed The Associated Press that he was very pleased for the fruit fly. He stated that he obtained the call regarding the award just after 5 a.m. and when the landline tends to ring at that hour, generally it is because someone had died.

 He was still a little overwhelmed. However, he added that he tends to stand on the shoulders of giants and that this is a very humbling award. Young who is at Rockefeller University and Hall formerly had been a visiting professor at the University of Maine stated that his prize work had been done at Brandeis.

Hall ironically noted that he had been awake when the call came through regarding the prize for the biological clock, due to age-related changes in his own circadian rhythms. He had checked with the AP through phone from Cambridge, Maine if it had been a hoax. Juleen Zierath of the Nobel Assembly at the Karolinska Institute that chooses the laureates had commented that the winners had raised awareness on the importance of appropriate sleep hygiene.

Circadian Rhythms


Another assembly member, Carlos Ibanez had stated that the research is significant in comprehending how humans tend to adjust to shift-work. A scientist at the U.K Medical Research Council, Michael Hastings had commented that the discoveries had given rise to a complete new field of research for biology as well as medicine.

Hasting had informed the AP that till then the biological clock had been observed as a kind of black box and that they were not aware about its operation. However, what they did came to understand was that the genes which made the body clock and once you tend to get the genes, you can take the field wherever one desires to do so.

He further informed AP that that it is a field which had blown up tremendously, driven by the findings by these Americans. According to Hall, scientist had been aware about circadian rhythms right from 1700s though the research team viewed the mechanics together with the underpinning regarding its operation. He stated that understanding can provide the researchers with an opportunity of addressing the circadian rhythms disorders which tends to contribute to the sleep issues.

How Genes Controlled Biological Clock

Young had informed that their research had revealed an amazing mechanism for how genes controlled the biological clock. When questioned at a New York news conference regarding the probable medical breakthroughs from the work, he informed that they were working on it. However, he noted that a genetic mutation had been discovered in some individuals who had chronic issues in getting sleep at night.

Explaining the research, the Nobel statement said that their wellbeing has been affected where there is a temporary mismatch between the external environment and the internal biological clock, for instance while travelling across various time zones and experience `jet lag’. There had also been indications which chronic misalignment between the lifestyles together with the rhythm spoken by inner time keeper is related with increased risk for various diseases.

The misalignment could be related with diseases comprising of cancer and degenerative neurological conditions. Hall commented that if one tends to comprehend how the usual process of biological clock tends to function, it provides an opportunity not inevitability though a chance to influence the internal workings of the clock and probably enhance the well-being of a person. Rosbash informed that he is of the opinion that most of its practical application lies ahead.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Apple Releases iOS 11.0.2 Software Update

 iOS 11.0.2

iOS 11.0.2 For Fixing Crackling Sound On iPhone 8

The iOS 11.0.2 has been made available to Apple users on their iPhones, iPod touch and iPads. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus users experienced crackling sound during calls.

It was not clear what caused the crackling sound. The earpiece seemed to work fine even on affected iPhones, but during calls , there seemed to be a faint crackling sound, which was annoying to the users. They took to social media to report this problem and seek help. Apple confirmed the problem and said it affected a few of its users. To fix this problem, Apple has come out with iOS 11.0.2. It also fixes other minor bugs as well.

Apple did not release any betas before the iOS 11.0.2. It is the second update since it launched iOS 11 on 19th September.

The iOS 11 included additional features to the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. It included Indoor mall and airport maps, Do Not Disturb while driving, Live photos editing, multitasking features in the iPad, new files app, document scanning in notes.

The iOS 11.0.1 also aims to fix certain issues which the users have complained about. It fixed the Exchange email server problem. There improvements in performance as seen in the iMessage app Drawer, App Explorer and Springboard.

The iOS 11.0.2 is focused on fixing up the iOS 11 and iOS 11.0.1 problems. It seems to be a solution for bug fixes and improvement in performance, also including the crackling sound during phone calls.

Initially, the problem of the crackling audio was believed to be a hardware issue. Apple released the beta version of iOS 11.1 last week and the problem was resolved with a software update. In order to expidite the fixing of the bug, it released the iOS 11.0.2. The iOS 11.0.2 also fixes two other issues. The one that could cause the photos to be hidden as well as the problem where attachments in S/MIME encrypted emails would not open. It does not have any additional security content , it includes the same security from iOS 11.0

The iOS 11.0.2 is a maintenance update with a fairly big download of 278MB . It should take about a minute or two to download if you have a fast Wi-Fi network.

You need to go to the Settings app on your iPhone, click ‘General’ and then ‘Software Update’. This update can be downloaded from your computer as well. You need to plug your iPhone to the computer and go to iTunes to update. It would be safe to backup your device in case anything should go wrong. Make sure that the iCloud backups in your device settings are working or backup can be done using iTunes.

For data protection on your iPhone, iPad or iPod touch, you need to have the iOS 11/iOS 11.0.2 . This is especially essential for those using the older versions of iOS.
In a gist
iOS 11.0.2 includes bug fixes and performance improvement in iPhones, iPads and iPod touch
  1. The crackling audio during phone calls for the iPhone8 and iPhone 8 Plus has been fixed. 
  2. It solves the problem where some photos become hidden. 
  3. The attachments in S/MIME encrypted emails would not open and this problem too is resolved.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

How the iPhone's Do Not Disturb While Driving Feature Works

Apple’s Sage Driving Mode

The `Do Not Disturb While Driving’, safe driving mode had been announced by Apple in June at the Worldwide Developer Conference, a feature that is focused in fighting the hazardous practice of using the device for safe driving which tends to switch off other alerts, enticing users in viewing their phones while on the run.

People distracted while driving has become a safety crisis since the entry of smartphones and as per statistic from U.S. Department of Transportation, around 10% of deadly crashes, 15% of injury crashes and 14% of overall police-reported motor vehicle traffic crashes are the result of distracted driving. Utilising your device while on the move especially while driving could be a dangerous issue and for the first time, Apple had now introduced a safe driving mode for iPhone in iOS 11.

The feature disables the users from receiving messages and calls forsafe driving and provides their contact with the awareness that the recipients are occupied. The safety addition,`Called Do Not Disturb While Driving’, would be added to all phones running iOS 11. The new mode has received the approval of the police and road safety advocates who state that this could help in the prevention of accidents due to the distraction of people while driving. The following would provide some insight on how it functions and how to turn it off:

When is `Do Not Disturb While Driving turned on? 

The toughest warning that a person is in his car is if their iPhone has been linked to a car Bluetooth network and since no one tends to have Bluetooth in their car, Apple has come up with other indications where one could be driving. The safe driving mode tends to utilise various signals like the accelerometer of the iPhone, the rate wherein it tends to find and loose the Wi-Fi network in the vicinity together with the GPS in trying to detect when it assumes one would be driving.

Since it has been turned on by default and tends to get activated mechanically, it could affect the public transport users as well as passengers. Over a period of time, the feature is said to be more precise as Apple intends to obtain more date regarding who is and is not at the wheels. This feature can also be mechanically activated from the new control centre of iOS 11. Initially one would have to add the option through Settings> ControlCentre > Customise Controls and then add Do Not Disturb While Driving, thereafter you could turn it on swiping up from the bottom of the screen and opt for it.

What occurs when it is turned on? 

The safe driving mode of iOS 11 has the tendency of detecting when the iPhone user seems to be driving and silences the notifications in order to avoid disturbing the user. Moreover it is also likely to turn the phone’s screen dark, making it more difficult to unlock the device. Users could set up the automatic iMessage replies in order to send it to their contacts when they may be driving and opt to receive the notifications for the message which may be crucial.

Besides this, the app also has the possibility of stopping users from receiving phone calls though they could opt to take the calls from some of the contacts as well as receive alert if the number tends to try again within a span of three minutes. Calls still have the potential of going through in-car Bluetooth system even though Do Not Disturb While Driving has been activated. Siri tends to work in Do Not Disturb While Driving mode though the same could only answer voice command with audible replies.Apple Maps also tends to have the same lock screen presence since it does when the mode is not initiated.

How to turn it off? 

If the phone tends to inform that it is in driving mode when it is unlocked, waking up the phone would only display the Do Not Disturb driving notification while everything else seems to be blocked. On pressing or swiping on the notification would enable the user to say one is not driving if the need arises of turning it off. In order to stop the same from turning on, when it is not needed, you could change the feature by going to Settings > Do Not Disturb, where one could control if the safety mode is activated mechanically, when the same has been connected manually to the car Bluetooth.

Phone calls are enabled when an iPhone is connected to the Bluetooth of the car or a hands-free accessory enabling the user to respond with picking up the phone. The calls tend to get blocked like text messages and notifications if the same is not connected to Bluetooth or a compatible accessory. This is a totally optional feature wherein the driver has the choice of not using or could toggle off at any point of time, though it is an essential feature which one needs to consider turning on to eliminate distractions for safe driving.