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06 February 2016 @ 05:44 am
Rotten Apple  
Let me tell you how much I hate Apple: If there were a way for Apple to play against the New England Patriots, I would root for the Patriots. Just as we were about to achieve the dream of computers that would enable us to pick up the material world from a safe distance with words and numbers, “Blow” Jobs and the Lizard of Woz started a process that would turn them into television that also watches us. I have always liked the Zen idea that we are owned by our possessions. More and more devices work to literalize that image; they spy on us, they find new ways to extract money from us, and they control how we can use them. Here is Apple again, breaking your phone if you let it be touched by ritually unclean hands.

Thanx to Metafilter

ETA: Oops! See first comment, by someone who knows. This particular fix is good security, even though it’s handled in a screw-the-customer fashion.
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Autopopeautopope on February 6th, 2016 11:59 am (UTC)
If that's the "Error 53" biz that's blown up in the past 48 hours ...?

That's a good thing.

Shorter version: iPhones are secured by either a PIN or a fingerprint (the latter being authorized by a PIN-holder, there's a chain of trust here). Fingerprints are not stored on the internet or off-device, and the fingerprint reader, which doubles as the "home" button, is designed with paranoia in mind -- to prevent someone rewiring it or trying to hack into the on-chip trust store to reverse-engineer the fingerprint lock.

Sometimes the "home" button/fingerprint reader flex cable gets damaged. Some folks went to third-party shops to get it replaced. The folks who did the replacement weren't able to authenticate the new button as a legit change. Cue the latest iOS upgrade, which tightens security again -- remember, lots of folks are now using their phones as a contactless proxy for their credit card -- the OS has begun throwing its hands in the air when it detects a hacked fingerprint reader.

Apple should certainly have a better in-store solution to the problem than "you broke your phone, give us $400 for a trade in, you naughty, naughty person", but ... disabling a fingerprint-secured device that's also the keys to your bank account if it detects hacking? I wish Android developers were half so security-conscious.

If you want intrusive, look to Microsoft's XBoX One with its movement sensor camera that uploads video of you watching TV whenever the XBoX is turned on. Or Panasonic and Samsung whose dodgy internet TV portals track your activity and upload a log of it -- unencrypted -- over HTTP to a far-eastern server for ad tracking (and who don't say this in the manual/license that comes with the TVs). This shit is everywhere, and Apple actually do it less badly than most of their competitors.

(There's a reason for that: they got their fingers burned badly with corporate email security on the original iPhone in 2007 -- so badly it probably cost them billions in sales over the next few years as corporate IT people reached for the crucifixes and holy water at any hint of connecting iOS devices to their networks. They learned their lesson, and because they control their whole ecosystem they were able to secure it properly. Whereas most Android vendors are all, "who cares? Make it cheap and if it breaks, let's just try to sell them a replacement.")
El Coyote Gordo: actualsupergee on February 6th, 2016 12:42 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm adding a reference to your comment, here and on DW.
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on February 6th, 2016 05:57 pm (UTC)
Sometimes the "home" button/fingerprint reader flex cable gets damaged.

If this happens at all often, then either Apple needs to make it easier for an authorized fix, or else the security consequences of an unauthorized fix are too severe. Period. No matter what other, legitimate security concerns they address.

From what I read, the lockout makes permanently inaccessible anything - security-oriented or otherwise - stored on the phone. Even from authorized repair. That is also too severe.

This adds several additional items to my list of reasons why I intend never to be tempted to use a smartphone for anything of value, either in terms of wanting to keep it secure or wanting to keep it, period.
Autopopeautopope on February 6th, 2016 06:12 pm (UTC)
What do you mean by "at all often"?

There are close to a billion iOS devices out there. At least 10% -- probably more like 20% -- have TouchID sensors. If just 0.1% of that 200M machines malfunction this way, that's 200,000 of them. Note also that the thing in question is a button -- the only button on the front of the machine, the one that gets mashed every time you turn the phone on, so it's being used not merely multiple times a day but quite possibly hundreds of times per day.

It also needs replacing if someone drops their phone and wrecks the screen, necessitating a replacement, because it's in the middle of the screen.
Kalimackalimac on February 6th, 2016 06:19 pm (UTC)
Then it definitely needs to be easy to get an authorized repair.
Autopopeautopope on February 7th, 2016 01:15 pm (UTC)
Any Apple Store.

Any Apple Authorized Reseller.

The problem is with folks who cut corners and look for a local phone shop who don't know what they're doing. (I'm also guessing, folks whose iOS devices are out of warranty and who cheap out on repairs, insurance, or an AppleCare subscription.)
Kalimackalimac on February 7th, 2016 01:34 pm (UTC)
"I was in the Balkans covering the refugee crisis in September when I dropped my phone. Because I desperately needed it for work I got it fixed at a local shop, as there are no Apple stores in Macedonia." - Antonio Olmos

And when he got back to London and took it to an Apple store, "staff told him there was nothing they could do, and that his phone was now junk." So they can't even reverse it.

Also, there's this (same article):

"Apple charges £236 for a repair to the home button on an iPhone 6 in the UK, while an independent repairer would demand a fraction of that."

So:
1) Not easy, if you're out in the boonies;
2) Not inexpensive;
3) Not reversible;
4) No warning.

Not a very acceptable program.

Edited at 2016-02-07 01:35 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - Tom Jackson on February 8th, 2016 02:55 pm (UTC) (Expand)
El Coyote Gordo: eye-pyramidsupergee on February 8th, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you.

I hate the Apple interface for the reason RAW loved it: It gets you close enough to the system to touch and push it, as opposed to offering incantations from a distance.