New York Police scrap 36,000 Windows smartphones • The Register


The New York Police Department will scrap 36,000 smartphones, thanks to a monumental purchasing cock-up by a billionaire’s daughter.The city spent millions on the phones back in October 2016 as part of its drive to bring the police force into the 21st century. And the woman behind the purchase – Deputy Commissioner for Information Technology, Jessica Tisch – praised them for their ability to quickly send 911 alerts to officers close to an incident.There was only one problem: Tisch chose Windows-based Lumia 830 and Lumia 640 XL phones, and Microsoft officially ended support for Windows 8.1 in July.

Source: New York Police scrap 36,000 Windows smartphones • The Register

Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably Has Your Encryption Key


New Windows devices have disk encryption turned on by default. But what happens to your recovery key?

Source: Recently Bought a Windows Computer? Microsoft Probably Has Your Encryption Key

German pro basketball team relegated to lower division due to Windows update

A second-tier German professional basketball team has been relegated to an even lower tier as a result of being penalized for starting a recent game late—because the Windows laptop that powered the scoreboard required 17 minutes to perform system updates.

The March 13 match between the Chemnitz Niners and the Paderborn Baskets was set to begin normally, when Paderborn (the host) connected its laptop to the scoreboard in the 90 minutes leading up to the game.

In an interview with the German newspaper, Die Zeit, Patrick Seidel, the general manager of Paderborn Baskets said that at 6:00pm, an hour and a half before the scheduled start time, the laptop was connected “as usual.”

“But as both teams warmed up, the computer crashed,” he said. “When we booted it again at 7:20pm, it started automatically downloading updates. But we did not initiate anything.”

After all the updates were installed, Paderborn was ready to start the game at 7:55pm.

Link (Ars Technica)

Windows 10 to make the Secure Boot alt-OS lock out a reality

Those of you with long memories will recall a barrage of complaints in the run up to Windows 8’s launch that concerned the ability to install other operating systems—whether they be older versions of Windows, or alternatives such as Linux or FreeBSD—on hardware that sported a “Designed for Windows 8” logo.

To get that logo, hardware manufacturers had to fulfil a range of requirements for the systems they built, and one of those requirements had people worried. Windows 8 required machines to support a feature called UEFI Secure Boot. Secure Boot protects against malware that interferes with the boot process in order to inject itself into the operating system at a low level. When Secure Boot is enabled, the core components used to boot the machine must have correct cryptographic signatures, and the UEFI firmware verifies this before it lets the machine start. If any files have been tampered with, breaking their signature, the system won’t boot.

This is a desirable security feature, but it has an issue for alternative operating systems: if, for example, you prefer to compile your own operating system, your boot files won’t include a signature that Secure Boot will recognize and authorize, and so you won’t be able to boot your PC.

However, Microsoft’s rules for the Designed for Windows 8 logo included a solution to the problem they would cause: Microsoft also mandated that every system must have a user-accessible switch to turn Secure Boot off, thereby ensuring that computers would be compatible with other operating systems. Microsoft’s rules also required that users be able to add their own signatures and cryptographic certificates to the firmware, so that they could still have the protection that Secure Boot provides, while still having the freedom to compile their own software.

This all seemed to work, and the concerns that Linux and other operating systems would be locked out proved unfounded.

This time, however, they’re not.

At its WinHEC hardware conference in Shenzhen, China, Microsoft talked about the hardware requirements for Windows 10. The precise final specs are not available yet, so all this is somewhat subject to change, but right now, Microsoft says that the switch to allow Secure Boot to be turned off is now optional. Hardware can be Designed for Windows 10 and can offer no way to opt out of the Secure Boot lock down.

Link (Ars Technica)

The CIA Campaign to Steal Apple’s Secrets

RESEARCHERS WORKING with the Central Intelligence Agency have conducted a multi-year, sustained effort to break the security of Apple’s iPhones and iPads, according to top-secret documents obtained by The Intercept.

The security researchers presented their latest tactics and achievements at a secret annual gathering, called the “Jamboree,” where attendees discussed strategies for exploiting security flaws in household and commercial electronics. The conferences have spanned nearly a decade, with the first CIA-sponsored meeting taking place a year before the first iPhone was released.

By targeting essential security keys used to encrypt data stored on Apple’s devices, the researchers have sought to thwart the company’s attempts to provide mobile security to hundreds of millions of Apple customers across the globe. Studying both “physical” and “non-invasive” techniques, U.S. government-sponsored research has been aimed at discovering ways to decrypt and ultimately penetrate Apple’s encrypted firmware. This could enable spies to plant malicious code on Apple devices and seek out potential vulnerabilities in other parts of the iPhone and iPad currently masked by encryption.

The CIA declined to comment for this story.

The security researchers also claimed they had created a modified version of Apple’s proprietary software development tool, Xcode, which could sneak surveillance backdoors into any apps or programs created using the tool. Xcode, which is distributed by Apple to hundreds of thousands of developers, is used to create apps that are sold through Apple’s App Store.

The modified version of Xcode, the researchers claimed, could enable spies to steal passwords and grab messages on infected devices. Researchers also claimed the modified Xcode could “force all iOS applications to send embedded data to a listening post.” It remains unclear how intelligence agencies would get developers to use the poisoned version of Xcode.

Researchers also claimed they had successfully modified the OS X updater, a program used to deliver updates to laptop and desktop computers, to install a “keylogger.”

Link (The Intercept)