Low-Margin Hardware

Low-margin hardware brands can’t sustain their business by only selling you low-margin hardware. They need to find other ways to generate profits, and one way is to collect your data and sell it to the highest bidder.

OnePlus runs OxygenOS, which records data:

  • when you lock or unlock the screen
  • when you open, use, close apps
  • which WiFi networks you connect to

And some more:

  • your phone’s IMEI
  • your phone number
  • your mobile carrier

Security researcher Chris Moore says with the last three data points it’s not hard to identify you. But OnePlus doesn’t seem to think it’s a problem and points out you can easily turn off the data collection (the first set of three data points), but not the second set of three data points.

Most smartphone manufacturers hardly make any money selling smartphones. With Apple capturing 80%? or more of smartphone industry profits and the rest going to Samsung, the rest are either breaking even or losing money. So how do they then make money selling smartphones?

By collecting your data and selling your data.

According to AndroidPolice, that cute smart speaker that Google came out with? Home Mini. It got caught recording everything. A defect, affecting only a small number of units, says Google. What if no one had found out? Does Google make enough money selling you a Home Mini for $50 to keep going? Probably not. The Home Mini is a cute, cheap conduit that serves up your data to its search-based increasingly AI-based ad-selling money-making machine.

Source: The Verge


Privacy, Security, and Apple

[ TechCrunch / Matthew Panzarino ] Apple is the only company I trust to keep my privacy and security as high a priority as building a great product. That’s because to Apple it’s the same thing. At least that’s how I think about Apple. Is Apple perfect? No. I would have preferred a more secure authentication method: an iPhone 7s with Face ID and Touch ID. But there’s no turning back time; Apple has built the iPhone 8 and the iPhone X. So let’s get on with figuring out what we can about Face ID.

Matthew Panzarino asks questions about Face ID and Craig Federighi answers them:

When it comes to customers — users — Apple gathers absolutely nothing itself. Federighi was very explicit on this point.

“We do not gather customer data when you enroll in Face ID, it stays on your device, we do not send it to the cloud for training data,” he notes.

There is an adaptive feature of Face ID that allows it to continue to recognize your changing face as you change hair styles, grow a beard or have plastic surgery. This adaptation is done completely on device by applying re-training and deep learning in the redesigned Secure Enclave. None of that training or re-training is done in Apple’s cloud. And Apple has stated that it will not give access to that data to anyone, for any price.

Apple couldn’t, even if it was forced to by law enforcement. Your Face ID data is never in Apple’s hands. Face ID data is a mathematical model stored in the Secure Enclave. Your face cannot be reverse-engineered even if Apple or anyone else accessed that mathematical model, not that Apple or anyone else can. The only place where your Face ID exists and will continue to exist is the Secure Enclave in your iPhone X. Until you reset your phone, of course.

What if law enforcement whether at the airport, border crossing, or when you’re taking photos demands you turn over your iPhone? Squeeze. Federighi explains all you have to do is press the volume button — either one — and the power button at the same time. This squeeze disables Face ID and forces you to use your passcode to unlock your iPhone X. As far as US law is concerned law enforcement can force you to unlock your iPhone using your fingerprint and most likely your face, but not your passcode.

Face ID will most likely become the de facto authentication standard for all Apple products. I expect to see most of Apple’s product lines that have an embedded display — iMac, MacBook, iPhone, iPad — to shift toward Face ID. (I think it might be a while for Apple Watch to get it though.) I also have a sneaky suspicion the notch design will be tagging along in all future iPhones and iPads. Thankfully MacBooks and iMacs have big enough top bezels to fit all the sensors required to make Face ID work.