Recent Articles By Andrew Orr [RSS]

AT&T Blocks Encrypted Email App Tutanota

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In certain areas of the U.S. some AT&T users found they couldn’t access their inboxes in encrypted email app Tutanota.

Starting on January 25th 2020, we have had constant complaints from AT&T mobile users who were unable to access their encrypted Tutanota mailbox. While AT&T seemed willing to fix this when we reached out to them, the issue is still not solved and reports from users keep coming in.

While some AT&T users confirmed the block, others said that they were able to access Tutanota. As AT&T has not fixed the issue after more than two weeks, we are reaching out publicly in the hope of getting the attention of the right people at AT&T.

It’s Time for Encrypted Messaging app Signal to go Mainstream

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Signal creator Moxie Marlinspike is growing the Signal Foundation and adding new features to the app thanks to money from WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton.

Since then, Marlinspike’s nonprofit has put Acton’s millions—and his experience building an app with billions of users—to work. After years of scraping by with just three overworked full-time staffers, the Signal Foundation now has 20 employees. For years a bare-bones texting and calling app, Signal has increasingly become a fully featured, mainstream communications platform. With its new coding muscle, it has rolled out features at a breakneck speed…

I wish I could use Signal but none of my friends use it.

Check Out This Cellphone With a Rotary Dialer

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In a world where smartphones are gateways to nearly anything you can imagine and constant distractions, Justine Haupt wanted a phone without distractions. That’s why she built the Rotary Cellphone. In place of a touchscreen it has a rotary dialer, a few buttons on the face of the device, and nothing else. On the back of the phone it has an e-ink display that can tell you caller information and history, like if you missed a call. Ms. Haupt shared the schematics and original design files so anyone can build a Rotary Cellphone of their own.

Check Out This Cellphone With a Rotary Dialer

Man Who Refused to Decrypt Hard Drives Free After Four Years

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Four years ago a federal judge held Francis Rawls in contempt when he refused to decrypt hard drives for police.

The practical result is that, at least in federal court, someone can only be imprisoned for 18 months for refusing to open an encrypted device. That’s probably a harsh-enough penalty to induce most people to comply with decryption orders. But suspects in child-pornography cases might be tempted to “forget” the passwords on their encrypted device if doing so could save them from a conviction and a much longer prison term.

What an interesting case, and I remember reading about it four years ago. I wonder if the court was trying to set a precedent for passwords and the Fifth Amendment.

Ransomware Hackers Now Want Your Nudes

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Security researchers discover a new form of blackmail from ransomware hackers: They demand nudes instead of money.

While most ransomware strains require monetary compensation in return for a decryptor, Ransomwared is demanding a more unusual payment. Once a computer is infected, a pop up will appear and demand that the victim send the author pictures of “tits” in exchange for an “unlock code.”

Maybe this speaks to my cynicism or just the fact that the world is filled with bad people. But I’m honestly surprised I haven’t heard of this type of ransomware extortion sooner. You could just send random porn, they wouldn’t be able to know if they’re actually your nudes. But they might ask you to hold up a sign with the current date as proof that it’s you. However, what if you just searched online for a nude with a sign, then photoshopped the current date on it? Okay, I need to stop. This is why Charlotte worries about me.

Darkroom Photo Editor Latest to Go Subscription

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Darkroom is the latest app to move to a subscription model. It affects new users only, and current users won’t lose their premium features they paid for.

For new users, Darkroom will cost $3.99 per month or $19.99 per year. And there is still a one-time purchase option at $49.99. Darkroom hopes that a switch to a subscription business model will increase its revenue and thus expand development of the app.

Subscriptions are annoying, but I don’t blame developers so much as Apple. This is exactly what they wanted because it means more money for them. I don’t Apple will ever add upgrade pricing to the App Store. That doesn’t benefit them. Subscriptions are part of Apple’s new Services business, whether the apps are Apple’s own or not.

Czech Authorities Investigate Avast Over Data Collection

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Investigations are underway to examine Avast’s practice of collecting and selling its users’ browser histories.

Avast, which is based in the Czech Republic, claimed it was stripping away users’ personal details from the collected browser histories as a way to “de-identify” the data, and preserve their customers’ privacy. However, the joint investigation from PCMag and Motherboard found the contrary: The same data can actually be combined with other information to identify the web activities of individual Avast users, including their internet searches. As many as 100 million users had their data collected.

I’m glad there are investigations. As I found out last week, there are likely other companies participating in this data collection practice.

US Reportedly Gave Allies Evidence of Huawei Backdoors

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Although the U.S. hasn’t shared it publicly, it claims to have found actual evidence of Huawei backdoors.

The United States has long claimed that Huawei can secretly access networks through the networking gear it sells to telcos, but the goverment previously argued that it doesn’t need to show any proof. US officials still are not providing such evidence publicly but have begun sharing their intelligence with other countries.

The best part is that, according to The Wall Street Journal, the origin of this report, these backdoors were intentionally put into place for law enforcement. And yet, the DoJ wants Apple to put backdoors in iOS that they swear can only be accessed by law enforcement, and definitely not foreign state hacking groups.

LaunchCuts 1.2 Update Adds Folder Icons, Quick Actions, and More

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LaunchCuts is a launcher for Apple’s Shortcuts app that adds extra functionality. With LaunchCuts 1.2 it adds even more features, such as: Customization: Personalize the look of your folders with icons and colors; Custom App Icon: Choose from five different app icons for LaunchCuts; Quick Actions: Easily access up to three folders or shortcuts from iOS Home screen; Enhanced Keyboard Support: Control nearly every aspect of LaunchCuts from the keyboard; New Shortcut Actions: Analyze and Filter Shortcuts actions give you more visibility into your library of shortcuts; and a whole lot more. App Store: US$7.99

LaunchCuts 1.2 Update Adds Folder Icons, Quick Actions, and More