Apple

Apple’s new ‘secret weapon’ gives hope for more secure future

Beauceron Security was at CISO Forum Canada in Niagara Falls last week, speaking with noted security thinkers from across the country. One topic that couldn’t help but come up a few times was Apple’s new credit card. 

Apple rolled out its credit card to U.S. customers last week, prompting speculation over what it will mean for the company, consumers and other credit card providers. While it’s not available at home yet, plenty of Canadians are eager to get their hands on one — and with good reason! This thing is pretty cool, and it marks a major leap in the quest for data privacy. 

What’s so different about it?

The permanent, visible 16-digit number found on most credit cards is no more. Instead, the Apple version operates using a token for each transaction; they specifically create a unique ID every time you make a purchase, and it’s not tied to any other identifier — making it a great way to protect your information if you’re dining out, gassing up or shopping around.  

Hackers will be deterred from targeting these types of businesses since they won’t be able to monetize the theft of customers’ credit card information.  

Perhaps the most important difference is that Apple, sticking to the privacy standards they’ve applied to their hardware products, will not (and in fact cannot) use this service to collect data about your transactions such as what you bought, where, when and for how much. Because this info is never collected, it can’t be sold or traded to companies like Google, Facebook and Amazon.  

If you’ve ever wondered why you get ads after buying something even though you never Googled said item, it’s because the information from the store transaction is sold back and associated with your online ID. With the Apple card, no one is tracking you, and no one is hitting you with targeted ads.  

Apple’s not-so-secret weapon

You may be wondering: is this just a ploy to sell more iPhones? Well, yes and no. Of course the goal of any corporation is increased wealth and market share, and the card service is paired intimately with the use of Apple devices like the watch and the phone. People are calling it Apple’s secret weapon in part because if it takes off and goes big, it will take a huge bite out of the revenue of companies like Google and Facebook — and this has long topped Apple’s to-do list.  

Apple’s business model says, “Yes, there’s a premium price for our products, but in exchange for that we won’t give away your data.” So while there may be drawbacks — namely, the upfront cost — with a focus on privacy comes the financial burden of ensuring that security is the standard across the board.  

A rare good-news story

The credit card industry is notoriously competitive, so Apple will have to keep interest rates and other fees reasonable. What you get out of paying more at the outset is the assurance that your data won’t fall into the wrong hands, and we think that’s very valuable!  

Whether or not you’re an Apple fan, this is an unequivocal win for privacy. In a world where good-news cybersecurity stories are few and far between, this is an event worth celebrating. 


If you want to empower your employees and reduce cyber risk, give us a call @ 1-877-516-9245 or reach out at info@beauceronsecurity.com for more information. 

Apple loses face with FaceTime bug

Apple may value user privacy more than the other tech giants, but even they aren’t immune to issues that compromise that privacy.  

In late January, a FaceTime group chat error let users hear audio from the person at the other end before they’d picked up. In some cases, the device also broadcast video. The audio and video functions were enabled early, in other words, making for an unintentional – but still very embarrassing – mistake on Apple’s part! 

A bug in the system

Your cool fact for the day: the root of the term “bug” comes from the early days of computing; real bugs would crawl into the original hole-punch-style computers from the mid-20th century, end up squashed over a hole, and screw up the programming.  

We now use the expression “bug” to refer to any unintentional software error.  

This FaceTime mistake was introduced in a software update, and only discovered recently.

Working out a fix

Intentions mean a lot – we know, at least, that this malfunction wasn’t perpetrated by a nation state or criminal group; it’s a bug, not a deliberate hack. 

On Monday, Apple said it was working on a software patch to solve the problem. They’d disabled the group chat functionality – meaning users could still chat one-on-one and their FaceTime app would still work – and Apple promised to push out an update to Mac and iOS devices to fix the flaw. On Friday, they apologized for the error. 

Do you really need to cover your webcam?

A good way to nip this kind of privacy issue in the bud is to cover the camera on your laptop, tablet and phone, either with a quick solution like electrical tape, or with an adhesive or attachable device specifically made to cover webcams. These cheap, quick options could save you a lot of hassle in the long run and give you some peace of mind.

Of course, this type of glitch is not specific to FaceTime. There are plenty of good reasons to cover that cam: other pieces of malware and hacks have surfaced that are able to turn cameras on – affecting Macs and PCs – without activating the camera lights to tip you off that they’re functioning.   

Another thing you can do is go into your phone and turn off FaceTime for now until the proper security update is pushed out. 

As always, for the sake of your own privacy, remember that no tech is immune to human error!