Apple posts support document describing how to remove Mac Defender phishing software

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Date: Wednesday, May 25th, 2011, 05:13
Category: News, Software

Apple has posted a support document explaining how to “avoid or remove” the infamous Mac Defender program and stated it would release an update to Mac OS X to automatically find and remove the malware.

The new support document describes the malware as a phishing scam that redirects users from legitimate websites to “fake websites which tell them that their computer is infected with a virus.”

The websites then offer phony antivirus software for a license fee between US$59.95 and US$79.95 to solve the problem, under the names Mac Defender, Mac Protector and Mac Security, often with MAC spelled in all caps.

Per AppleInsider, Apple’s removal steps detail quitting the offending app and deleting it from the Utilities folder it is installed into by default. The primary damage caused by the malware is to nag the user for their credit card information in an attempt to sell them a solution to a nonexistent problem.

Windows PC pundits, have made highly publicized reports of the Mac Defender malware, suggesting it is evidence that Macs are now experiencing malware and virus problems comparable to those experienced by Windows users over the past two decades.

Security expert Charlie Miller, who has regularly won security contests demonstrating Mac exploits, has downplayed that real threat of the few Mac malware titles that have surfaced, recently noting in an interview that “Microsoft recently pointed out that 1 in 14 downloads on Windows are malicious. And the fact that there is just one piece of Mac malware being widely discussed illustrates how rare malware still is on the Mac platform.”

Miller explained that while antivirus software can help protect your system from being infected, he also countered that “it’s expensive, uses system memory and reduces battery life,” stating, “At some point soon, the scales will tip to installing antivirus, but at this point, I don’t think it’s worth it yet for most people.”

Apple recommends that Mac users “should exercise caution any time they are asked to enter sensitive personal information online” and notes that it “provides security updates for the Mac exclusively through Software Update and the Apple Support Downloads site.”

The Mac Defender scam presents a phony website scanner with an appearance modeled after iTunes, and depicts itself as being an “Apple security center,” apparently modeled after the “Windows Security Center” Microsoft added to its own product.

Because the phony web page and its popups are tied to the browser, they do not look native alerts from Mac OS X. The scam site is also unable to install the malware without the user supplying an administrative password. Even so, hundreds of users have been duped by the scam, although the outbreak appears to be more of a nagware annoyance than a serious security problem.

In other news, the developers of Mac Defender also have a bridge they’d like to sell you…

Orange CEO divulges details, says next-gen iPhone to be smaller and thinner

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Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 08:44
Category: iPhone, News

If you’re wondering as to the specs of the next-generation iPhone…it’ll be smaller and thinner.

Or at least according to The CEO of France Telecom, who, as cited in an article on All Things Digital, stated that Apple will use a new, smaller SIM card in order to reduce the size of the handset.

Orange has hinted that Apple wanted to use smaller SIM cards before but apparently the network operator has managed to persuade Apple not to adopt an e-SIM system.

The e-SIM would be an embedded chip within the handset that would not be removeable – something that Orange and other network operators were unhappy with. The new, smaller SIMs are a compromise.

“All of us told them it was a bad idea because the SIM card is a critical piece of the security and authentication process. It would be very difficult for a telco or carrier to manage the customer relationship. I think that they understood this point. We had a very constructive exchange and dialogue with them,” said France Telecom CEO Stephane Richard.

“We are going to work with them in order to standardize a new format of SIM which takes into account our needs with security and authentication and also is compatible with their wishes in terms of size. I understood that the next iPhone would be smaller and thinner and they are definitely seeking some space,” he continued.

Richard is also wary of the power the Apple wields with its App Store. Other handset manufacturers allow Orange to pre-load its apps on to mobile phones sold on its network, though this is not possible with Apple.

“We still are in a position to bring those apps to our customers through the app stores, provided clearly we have access to the App Store. The problem is the day when Apple says ‘I don’t want this one’,” he said.

The interview is unusually frank and may lead to some consequences, as network operators have been punished by Apple in the past for giving away information about the company’s future plans.

Microsoft’s Ballmer cites Windows 8 release for 2012, begins to drop details

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Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 02:59
Category: News, Software

Ok, this isn’t amazing news about an upcoming Apple notebook or a revelation that the next iPhone will be able to paint your living room, but it never hurts to run a Windows partition on your Mac…

Per AppleInsider, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer confirmed plans for a 2012 launch of the “next generation of Windows systems,” which will include Windows 8 slates and tablets at a developer forum in Tokyo on Monday.

During the keynote, Ballmer publicly used the name “Windows 8″ for the first time. While touting advances made in Windows 7, Ballmer noted, “There’s a whole lot more coming.”

“As we progress through the year, you ought to expect to hear a lot about Windows 8. Windows 8 slates, tablets, PCs, a variety of different form factors” he said.

Microsoft announced in January that it plans to port Windows 8 to the ARM system-on-a-chip architecture in order to compete with devices like Apple’s iPad. “Windows PCs will continue to adapt and evolve. Windows will be everywhere on every device without compromise,” said Ballmer at the Consumer Electronics Show.

Early builds of Windows 8 hint at a scalable cross-platform solution that could make its way into tablets and phones. Microsoft has struggled in the mobile market, partly due to Intel’s unsuccessful efforts to meet low power requirements with its line of Atom chips.

Ballmer admitted on Monday that the company’s “big sort of effort” to transform communication with Windows Phone had arrived late. “We came to market with Windows Phone about a year later than I wish we had, shame on us. But, we’re moving forward very actively,” said Ballmer. The company is set to launch a major upgrade to Windows Phone on Tuesday.

For its part, Apple will unveil the future of Mac OS at the Worldwide Developers Conference early next month. Mac OS X 10.7 Lion brings several major features from iOS back to the Mac and is due out this summer.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple Store iPhone app updated to version 1.3, allows build-to-order Mac purchases

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Date: Tuesday, May 24th, 2011, 02:22
Category: iPhone, News, retail, Software

Apple on Monday updated its “Apple Store” application for the iPhone, offering the ability to order a custom Mac, and also more quickly receive help when at a retail store.

Per AppleInsider, the free application is currently available on the App Store. Version 1.3 is a 3.2MB download, and is available in English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. The app requires iOS 4.0 or later to install and run.

The release of the software coincides with the debut of Apple’s improved retail stores, which were upgraded on Sunday. The company now makes use of interactive iPad displays to provide product information, pricing and features.

According to Apple, new features of Apple Store 1.3 are:
- Enhanced in-store mode lets you get help and support quickly when you’re at an Apple Retail Store.

- The ability to custom-configure a new Mac with the options you want.

Using the new application, users can make modifications and upgrades to a Mac order placed from their iPhone. For example, users can add more RAM or upgrade the hard drive of a Mac before they finalize their order — features that were previously only available on Apple’s website.

The software is still only written for the iPhone and iPod touch, prompting some initial negative reviews from users in the App Store. Though the application can be run on an iPad, as all iOS software can, it is not optimized for the screen size and resolution of the touchscreen tablet.

Rumors of the updated iPhone application first surfaced on Saturday, revealing that the software was set to debut as part of Apple’s retail revamp. Apple’s online store went offline on Friday to also prepare for the changes.

The Apple Store application was first released in June of 2010. With it, users can view products, read customer reviews, locate a nearby Apple Retail Store, and buy or reserve devices like the iPhone.

If you tinkered with the new app and have any opinions on it, let us know in the comments.

Apple unveils updated retail experience, introduces interactive iPad displays

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Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:52
Category: News, retail

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There were rumblings that Apple was doing something for its 10th retail anniversary.

And they apparently did.

Per Mac Prices Australia, Apple retail stores have taken the wraps off Apple’s new retail upgrade, which makes use of interactive iPad displays to provide product information, pricing and features.

Apple launched “Retail 2.0″ on Sunday morning in commemoration of the 10th anniversary of Apple retail stores. The company opened its first retail stores on May 19, 2001, in McLean, Virginia and Glendale, Calif.

According to the report, the main change is the addition of stationary iPads placed next to other Apple products in order to display product prices, information and features. The touchscreen tablets can also be used to compare models and ask for help from a specialist. Photos of the new iPad display units reveal that the devices are placed in plexiglass.

The iPads appear to be running a custom software application, as customers report that pressing the home button on the tablets does nothing. Though the power cable for the device does not appear to connect to the dock, one person familiar with the matter said the cable is indeed connected to the dock connector, but is “very well hidden.” Also, detaching the cable will reportedly activate an alarm.

Some reports also suggested that Apple retail employees were wearing party hats to celebrate the occasion. Customers reported via Twitter that the Apple store updates created a “totally new experience.”

Apple had been reported as stockpiling iPads in preparation for a retail overhaul, the new in-house iPads having been slated for use with an updated version of RetailMe, Apple’s proprietary retail software.

Apple reportedly scheduled overnight shifts for retail employees in preparation for the updates to the Apple store. The company had blocked employees from taking vacation from May 20 to May 22. Mandatory meetings have been scheduled on Sunday morning and evening for Apple retail staff.

Apple has also taken offline the Order Status page from its website until Sunday, May 22 in order to perform a system update.

A recent report claimed Apple will update its “Apple Store” retail app for iOS this weekend, adding full build-to-order purchasing options to the application. Apple first released the retail app last year with support for stock configuration orders.

If you’ve wandered into an Apple Store location since the overhaul this weekend and have anything to report, let us know.

Apple anticipated to launch “iCloud” service providing terms can be reached with music publishers

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Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:33
Category: iTunes, News

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You’re hankering for Apple to launch a streaming music service with assorted other features.

You may not have to wait too long.

According to MediaMemo, Music industry insiders expect that Apple wants to launch, or at least introduce, its anticipated “iCloud” music streaming service in June, though the company must also reach agreements with music publishers.

Pursuant to this, Apple is said to have started making deals with the labels first in its negotiation process, and only recently began talking with publishers.

How long it will take to reach an agreement with publishers remains to be seen. But Apple’s launch of 90 second song previews in iTunes was reportedly held up for months last year because of negotiations with publishers.

Author Peter Kafka also said that sources in the music industry believe that Apple wants to launch or at least announce its so-called “iCloud” service at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference, starting June 6 in San Francisco. This year’s event is expected to focus on software, and it is not expected that Apple will unveil new iPhone hardware as it has done in years past.

“In Apple’s case, I’m told that the company doesn’t have any theological hurdles to clear with the publishers,” Kafka wrote.

As for the music labels, Apple has been making headway, with deals already reached with Sony Corp., EMI Group, and Warner Music Group. Those agreements would allow users to access song collections from mobile devices via the Internet.

The lone holdout remains Universal Music Group, the largest recording company. But it has also been said that Apple and Universal are close to reaching an agreement.

The Internet-based service is expected to offer more than just music, serving up calendar events, contacts, e-mail and bookmarks. Apple recently acquired the “icloud.com” domain name, suggesting that the company’s current cloud-based service, MobileMe, could be rebranded in the revamp.

Your guess is as good as ours on this one, but let us know what you think and we’ll get the information to you as soon as we get it.

Analyst: iPad 2 constraints easing, supply improving

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Date: Monday, May 23rd, 2011, 03:41
Category: iPad, News

In spite of the Japanese earthquakes and tsunami back in March, iPad 2 production restraints that affected Apple last quarter are said to have “significantly improved,” allowing for improved availability of the tablet.

According to AppleInsider, Analyst Shaw Wu with Sterne Agee said Friday that Apple has found better yields in iPad 2 production through retooling and conversion of more overseas production lines. These changes have gone a long way in addressing the supply issues Apple experienced last quarter.

Wu also cautioned that Apple is along way from meeting its internal goals for iPad 2 production. Previous rumors suggested Apple could ship as many as 45 million iPad 2 units this year, though predictions have dropped since Apple’s last quarter fell short of expectations for iPad sales.

“From our understanding, [Apple] still has a ways to hit the [second half] goal of 3-4 million units per month but getting closer,” Wu wrote.

Accordingly, Wu has increased his estimates for iPad sales in the current, third fiscal quarter of 2011 for Apple. He now sees the company selling 6.8 million iPads, up from his previous prediction of 5.9 million.

Wu also increased his estimated iPhone sales to 17 million, up from 16 million. He said iPhone demand appears to be holding up better than expected, thanks to strong adoption of the white iPhone 4 and strong sales on Verizon.

Wu also increased his projected Mac sales to 3.9 million from the quarter, up from 3.83 million. He is also assuming a new, higher gross margin of 39%, increased from 38.3%, due to improved iPad yields and higher iPhone sales.

Finally, he’s also increased Sterne Agee’s 12-month price target for AAPL stock to $460, up from the previous prediction of US$445.

So, if you want an iPad 2, odds are the one you want should be available.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Verizon ending unlimited data plan, will introduce tiered pricing plans for heavy data users

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Date: Friday, May 20th, 2011, 08:30
Category: iPhone, News

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The good times/unlimited data can’t last for ever.

Per Reuters, a Verizon executive said today that the company will be kicking off the summer by eliminating smartphone plans that allow unlimited web access for a flat fee. Those will be replaced with tiered pricing that will make heavy data users pay more for mobile data. It was also mentioned that Verizon will release the next iPhone at the same time as AT&T.

Chief Financial Officer Fran Shammo mentioned the company’s plans at the Reuters Global Technology Summit. However, they are aiming to ease the pain by offering more options, such as family plans for data services.

“We had individual minutes for individual users. Then we eventually got to what we call family share where everyone in the family shares the same minutes,” said Shammo.

“I think it’s safe to assume that at some point you are going to have mega-plans (for data) and people are going to share that mega-plan based on the number of devices within their family. That’s just a logical progression,” he continued, but failed to mention when said mega-plans would actually come to fruition.

Shammo also cited that when the next iPhone model comes to light, Verizon will be able to offer it at the same time as AT&T. The handset would also have global coverage, just like AT&T’s version.

Much speculation has been bantered about as to whether or not the next iPhone would support LTE, but Verizon isn’t concerned, saying they have enough high-speed alternatives to sell.

“I think it’s a bigger issue for Apple than it is for us,” he notes. “Depending on where Apple plays, that’s where we’ll sell.”

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple inks deal with Sony for upcoming iTunes/cloud service

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Date: Friday, May 20th, 2011, 04:08
Category: News

It’s when Apple starts coming to licensing terms with large music conglomerates that this whole cloud thing becomes interesting…

Per Bloomberg, Apple has reportedly inked a licensing deal with Sony Corp.’s music division to begin offering the label’s catalog in the cloud, leaving Universal Music Group as the last holdout among the major record labels.

Bloomberg reports that Apple has reached licensing accords with Sony Corp., EMI Group, and Warner Music Group to allow users to access song collections from mobile devices via the Internet. Prior reports had noted that EMI and Warner were on board with Apple’s plan for a cloud-based service.

Though Universal Music Group, the largest recording company, has yet to agree to a deal, Apple and the label are close to reaching an agreement, according to one person with knowledge of the deals. After signing licensing agreements with the labels, Apple would also need to renegotiate agreements with music publishers, which control different rights than the labels, the report noted.

Sources said plans for the new service could be previewed as early as next month at Apple’s sold-out Worldwide Developer Conference. According to a report last month, Apple has finished work on the service, which is being held up by pending music label and publisher agreements.

Sources have stated that Apple’s rumored cloud music service won’t require users to upload online collections, giving the company a significant advantage over rivals Google and Amazon. Amazon launched its Cloud Drive and Cloud Player services in March, and Google launched a Music Beta cloud service last week.

Although Google and Amazon beat Apple to market with their cloud music services, music industry sources have expressed the belief that Apple’s take on cloud music will be vastly superior. Both Google and Amazon reportedly chose not to secure music label support before launching their services.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Apple releases second beta build of Mac OS X 10.6.8 to developer community

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Date: Friday, May 20th, 2011, 04:51
Category: Rumor, Software

Apple on Thursday issued the second beta build of Mac OS X 10.6.8 to developers with no known issues.

Per AppleInsider, both the Combo Update and the Delta Update for Mac OS X 10.6.8 build 10K524 are a 1GB download. According to sources close to the story, focus areas for the build include Airport, Graphics Drivers, Mac App Store, Networking, QuickTime and VPN.

The first build of Mac OS X 10.6.8, identified as 10K521, arrived a week ago with no details on changes.

The most recent update to Snow Leopard came in March in the form of Mac OS X 10.6.7, which included display fixes for Apple’s early 2011 Thunderbolt MacBook Pros. Other adjustments included changes designed to improve the reliability of Back to My Mac, resolve issues when transferring files to SMB Windows Files Sharing servers, and address Mac App Store bugs.

Apple is expected to release a major upgrade to Mac OS X this summer with Mac OS X 10.7 (“Lion”). The company is expected to “unveil the future of Mac OS” at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference from June 6 through June 10 in San Francisco.

Mac OS X 10.7 is expected popular features in iOS, such as full screen apps and auto save, and brings them back to the Mac.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.