Apple Using a ‘Device Trust Score’ to Identify and Prevent Fraud on iTunes and App Stores

With the release of iOS 12, tvOS 12, and watchOS 5 yesterday, Apple made some quiet changes to its iTunes and App Store privacy policy on iOS devices and the Apple TV, as pointed out by VentureBeat.

Newly updated language in the iTunes and App Store privacy policy states that Apple is using a device trust score to help identify and cut down on fraud.



Apple says that information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you receive is used to compute the device trust score when you make a purchase.

To help identify and prevent fraud, information about how you use your device, including the approximate number of phone calls or emails you send and receive, will be used to compute a device trust score when you attempt a purchase. The submissions are designed so Apple cannot learn the real values on your device. The scores are stored for a fixed time on our servers.

This warning shows up on both iOS devices and the Apple TV, which can’t send emails or make phone calls, so it appears to be blanket wording Apple is using for all of its iTunes and App Store privacy updates.

As VentureBeat points out, it’s not entirely clear how tracking the number of phone calls and emails a person makes offers up better verification for device identity than unique device identifiers, but it’s possible this method can cut down on spam App Store accounts, fake reviews, and other such activities.

Apple’s iTunes Store & Privacy documentation was updated yesterday, and prior to then, it did not include the bit about creating a trust score.

There are few other changes that have been made to the document, and the new section joins a pre-existing policy where Apple says that it collects device information, location information, download and purchase history and other interactions with its stores to prevent fraud.
Discuss this article in our forums

Apple repays €14B in “illegal aid” to Ireland, so EU drops court case

Article intro image

European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager said Tuesday that the European Commission will finally close its legal investigation into Apple’s failure to pay back taxes to Ireland after the company paid €14 billion.

Ireland’s finance minister, Paschal Donohoe, applauded the EC’s move.

Over two years ago, Ireland was formally referred to the European Court of Justice after it failed to implement a 2016 order that required the island nation to collect the same amount in unpaid taxes.

Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Video: A quick explainer on the promise—and risks—of TrueDepth in the iPhone XS

Valentina Palladino and iOS developer Nathan Gitter explain Apple’s TrueDepth camera. (video link)

Apple’s new iPhones launch this week, and unlike last year, every one of the new devices comes equipped with the TrueDepth sensor array originally found in the iPhone X. Most consumers who are interested in Apple’s products know that piece of technology drives Face ID (an authentication method by which you log into your phone just by showing it your face) and Animojis, those 3D animated characters in Messages that follow your facial expressions.

But Apple and the developers who make apps for its platforms have more applications for the 3D sensing tech planned in the future, and consumers might not be aware of them. In this video, Ars Technica’s Valentina Palladino and iOS app developer Nathan Gitter talk about how TrueDepth works, what exciting things it might be used for in the future, and what users have to look out for in terms of privacy and security concerns.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Apple’s iBooks revamp, Apple Books, is here

Apple’s new and improved iBooks app, now called Apple Books, has popped up on iPhones across the world today with the release of iOS 12, the software update available to download as of this morning.

The new app has five tabs: Reading Now, Library, Book Store, Search and, for the first time, a dedicated Audiobooks tab.

Apple first previewed it at WWDC in June. The company said its sleek new look was the “biggest books redesign ever.” Cleaner UI, coupled with larger images, gives the app a more modern feel and an overall better experience. More importantly, it sets up Apple to better compete with other audio/e-book apps, like the Amazon-owned Audible.

In the Book Store, users can explore recently released titles and best-selling books, as well as curated collections and special offers; it’s available in 51 countries and free books for download are available in 155 countries.

Apple Books is also a lot smarter than its predecessor. As you download titles and engage with the app, the app will send you personalized recommendations based on your activity.

Indeed, it was time for an update. Audiobooks are more popular today than when Apple first launched iBooks in 2010 and are very much deserving of their own tab. According to Pew Research Center, one in five Americans regularly listens to them — a 28 percent increase from 2016.

Apple Watch and other hardware reportedly spared by new Trump tariffs

The latest round of Trump administration tariffs is set to affect a number of different industries. At least one category previously expected to be impacted, however, is likely to be spared, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

According to anonymous sources, the tariffs impacting a slew of consumer electronics, running the gamut from the Apple Watch to Fitbit trackers to Sonos speakers, has not made it into the final language. That means, for this round at least, those products should be spared the tax that would drive up the cost of such imports.

Trump administration tariffs have been the centerpiece of a looming trade war between the U.S. and China. Earlier today, China was reportedly set to cancel further trade talks, should the U.S. announce additional tariffs. They’ve been a domestic issue as well, as companies like Harley-Davidson have announced plans to move some production overseas to avoid the fee.

Apple has been a vocal critic of the tariffs, noting the resulting price hike. Earlier this month, the company wrote a letter to the Office of the United States Trade Representative, noting, “Tariffs increase the cost of our US operations, divert our resources, and disadvantage Apple compared to foreign competitors. More broadly, tariffs will lead to higher US consumer prices, lower overall US economic growth, and other unintended economic consequences.”

CEO Tim Cook also met with the president and first lady at their New Jersey golf resort earlier this month, in what much have been one of the more awkward meals in recent memory.

The new tariffs are expected to be announced as early as today.

Apple Watch, AirPods, and Other Apple Goods to Be Exempt From China Tariffs

The Apple Watch, AirPods, and some other Apple products will be exempted from a proposed $200 billion tariff on Chinese goods, reports Bloomberg.

An updated list of products affected by the tariffs is expected to be released today, and it will not include a product category that covers Apple Watch, AirPods, and other smart watches and fitness trackers. Five separate sources have confirmed to Bloomberg that the Trump administration will exempt many of Apple’s products.

The product code covers wireless devices, and it was included on a preliminary list the administration released in July. Other Apple products under the code include the HomePod speaker, BeatsWL headphones, and AirPort and Time Capsule internet routers. The value of such imports from China is about $12 billion, according to one of the people.

A preliminary tariff list released earlier this year did include wireless devices like the AirPods and the Apple Watch, and Apple in early September said that several of its products would be affected.

Apple sent a letter to the Trump administration urging it not to apply the tariffs that would affect Apple products, asking the government to instead find “other, more effective” solutions. Apple said implementing the tariffs would lead to lower U.S. growth and competitiveness, along with higher prices for U.S. consumers.

Back in July, Apple CEO Tim Cook commented on the tariffs, saying that Apple was “optimistic” the issue would be sorted out, with the company hoping “calm heads prevail.”

This fourth round of tariffs will cover $200 billion in Chinese goods and it joins several other tariffs that have already been put in place on products like steel, aluminum, and billions of dollars worth of goods.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.
Discuss this article in our forums

iOS 12, thoroughly reviewed

iOS 12 on an iPhone X.

Apple’s iOS 12 software update is available today for supported iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch devices, and on the surface, it looks like one of the smallest new iOS releases Apple has pushed out.

This isn’t a surprise; Apple said earlier this year that iOS 12 would be more about performance and stability than adding new features. Some major additions that were originally planned—like an overhauled home screen—were reportedly delayed to a later release.

And it’s also not a bad thing. Frankly, iOS 11 had some problems. Apple released several small updates in late 2017 and throughout 2018 to fix those problems, all while battling some frustrated customers’ perceptions that the company was deliberately making older devices obsolete to encourage new sales as overall smartphone sales slowed their growth industry-wide.

Read 183 remaining paragraphs | Comments

A new CSS-based web attack will crash and restart your iPhone

A security researcher has found a new way to crash and restart any iPhone — with just a few lines of code.

Sabri Haddouche tweeted a proof-of-concept webpage with just 15 lines of code which, if visited, will crash and restart an iPhone or iPad. Those on macOS may also see Safari freeze when opening the link.

The code exploits a weakness in iOS’ web rendering engine WebKit, which Apple mandates all apps and browsers use, Haddouche told TechCrunch. He explained that nesting a ton of elements — such as <div> tags — inside a backdrop filter property in CSS, you can use up all of the device’s resources and cause a kernel panic, which shuts down and restarts the operating system to prevent damage.

“Anything that renders HTML on iOS is affected,” he said. That means anyone sending you a link on Facebook or Twitter, or if any webpage you visit includes the code, or anyone sending you an email, he warned.

TechCrunch tested the exploit running on the most recent mobile software iOS 11.4.1, and confirm it crashes and restarts the phone. Thomas Reed, director of Mac & Mobile at security firm Malwarebytes confirmed that  the most recent iOS 12 beta also froze when tapping the link.

The lucky whose devices won’t crash may just see their device restart (or “respring”) the user interface instead.

For those curious, you can see how it works without it running the crash-inducing code.

The good news is that as annoying as this attack is, it can’t be used to run malicious code, he said, meaning malware can’t run and data can’t be stolen using this attack. But there’s no easy way to prevent the attack from working. One tap on a booby-trapped link sent in a message or opening an HTML email that renders the code can crash the device instantly.

Haddouche contacted Apple on Friday about the attack, which is said to be investigating. A spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.