Earlier today, it was reported that a hacker/researcher called “xerub” had released the encryption key, and tools to use it, for the firmware that runs the Secure Enclave Processor (SEP) on iPhone 5S. Reporting was…breathless. Stories suggested that this move was “destroying key piece of iOS mobile security,” and that we should “be on the lookout for Touch ID hacks” and “password harvesting scams.”
Is it really that bad? No, not really.
What was released today was the key to decrypt that firmware, but not a key to decrypt the region of disk used by the SE to store data. So now we can actually reverse-engineer the SE system, and hopefully gain a much better understanding of how it works. But we can’t decrypt the data it processes.
Emergency SOS is activated by pressing on the sleep/wake button of
an iPhone five times in rapid succession. When the requisite
number of presses is complete, it brings up a screen that offers
buttons to power off the iPhone, bring up your Medical ID (if
filled out) and make an emergency 911 call.
Along with these options, there’s also a cancel button. If you hit
the sleep/wake button five times and then hit cancel, it disables
Touch ID and requires a passcode before Touch ID can be
re-enabled. Touch ID is also disabled if you actually make an
This is a handy hidden feature because it allows Touch ID to be
disabled discretely in situations where someone might be able to
force a phone to be unlocked with a fingerprint, such as a robbery
or an arrest. With Touch ID disabled in this way, there is no way
to physically unlock an iPhone with a finger without the device’s
It’s also worth noting that there’s no real way to tell that Touch
ID has been disabled in this manner.
This is a fantastic feature. In addition to being useful for anyone with Touch ID, it will also assuage concerns over coerced unlocking of your phone with a facial ID scanner (which is widely believed to be coming in the new high-end iPhone).
Once iOS 11 ships, spread the word about this to your friends and family.
Update: Some great details about how Apple has implemented this:
If you actually make an SOS phone call, iOS does not lock you out of using Touch ID. That is, if it’s an actual emergency, Apple doesn’t want to make it harder to unlock your phone.
There’s a bit of haptic feedback when this feature is invoked, so you can do this discreetly in your pocket and know you hit it.
In the current developer beta (beta 6), the display stays on indefinitely while in Emergency SOS mode. You have to tap the on-screen Cancel button to get the screen to turn off. In a future beta, hitting the power button one more time should darken the display again. That way, you can disable Touch ID and turn off the display without ever removing your iPhone from your pocket.
Yet the decision of web providers yanking services and ejecting Nazi scumbags is apparently a controversial and unprecedented issue. It would appear that until now, like Trump, internet companies like Facebook and Cloudflare have not shared the instinctive moral revulsion most Americans, Europeans, and British feel toward white supremacists and neo-Nazis. [...]
It should be noted that press has simultaneously noted that hate groups and white supremacist memes "thrive, even in wide open, public communities" on Facebook. Don't worry, it's still a clean, well-lit place for fascism: Facebook still defends Holocaust denial as free speech as its policy, despite the fact that it is illegal in 16 countries because it is linked to violence against Jews. [...]
The problem is that the same companies we're cheering at to take a bite out of Nazi privilege and access are the same companies whose takedown and censorship processes are muddy -- which is what gives them play to censor people they simply don't want on their services. Like people who work in the sex industry, and LGBT people, who are most often silenced at the censorship end of these policies. One need only read the news over the past several years to see that legitimate voices get silenced online far more than those of aging skinheads and young Nazis.
This illustrates something that even a lot of liberals don’t always get. Most of these monuments were not erected after the Civil War. In fact, all the way to 1890 there were very few statues or monuments dedicated to Confederate leaders. Most of them were built much later. And since I’m not an academic, I feel comfortable squeezing this history into a very short, oversimplified summary:
1861-1865: Civil War.
1865-1875: Reconstruction Era.
1875-1895: Reconstruction Era ends. Blacks are steadily disenfranchised, allowing Southern whites to enact Jim Crow laws. In 1896, Jim Crow is cemented into place when the Supreme Court rules it constitutional.
1895-1915: With blacks disenfranchised and Jim Crow laws safely in place, Southern whites begin a campaign of terror against blacks. Lynchings skyrocket, the KKK becomes resurgent, and whites begin building Confederate statues and monuments in large numbers.
1915-1955: Jim Crow reigns safely throughout the South.
1955-1970: The Civil Rights era starts after the Supreme Court rules in Brown v. Board of Education that Jim Crow laws are unconstitutional. Southern whites mount massive and violent resistance, and start putting up Confederate monuments again.
Yes, these monuments were put up to honor Confederate leaders. But the timing of the monument building makes it pretty clear what the real motivation was: to physically symbolize white terror against blacks. They were mostly built during times when Southern whites were engaged in vicious campaigns of subjugation against blacks, and during those campaigns the message sent by a statue of Robert E. Lee in front of a courthouse was loud and clear.
No one should think that these statues were meant to be somber postbellum reminders of a brutal war. They were built much later, and most of them were explicitly created to accompany organized and violent efforts to subdue blacks and maintain white supremacy in the South. I wouldn’t be surprised if even a lot of Southerners don’t really understand this, but they should learn. There’s a reason blacks consider these statues to be symbols of bigotry and terror. It’s because they are.
«Yes, these monuments were put up to honor Confederate leaders. But the timing of the monument building makes it pretty clear what the real motivation was: to physically symbolize white terror against blacks. They were mostly built during times when Southern whites were engaged in vicious campaigns of subjugation against blacks, and during those campaigns the message sent by a statue of Robert E. Lee in front of a courthouse was loud and clear.»
You know the old expression “Not in my name”? It would be so easy -- so easy for President Trump to say to the neo-Nazis and the neo-Confederates and the neo-Klansmen, “Not in my name.” He is good with words, as he tells us. He can find a way of saying that. While he was at it, he could say, “Take off my hat.” (The red MAGA hat.) “Just wear your hoods and whatnot.” He could say that. Does he want to? And if the alt-Right gets associated with the Republican party and conservatism, it will not be the fault of the Read More ...
Last year around this time (and the year before that), I was arguing with some of my fellow conservatives about the insanity of finding any common cause whatsoever with the so-called alt-right. The issue wasn’t that every avowed nationalist who claimed membership in the alt-right was a Nazi or Klansman. It was that the alt-right was open to Nazis and Klansmen. And why wouldn’t these newly-minted white supremacists welcome such pioneering organizations to their cause? Right-wing cynics, hucksters and opportunists deliberately blurred these distinctions in the name of a right-wing popular front.
….The real threat to traditional conservatism is the mind-set that made it possible to form even a theoretical alliance with the alt-right in the first place: the idea that winning and fighting are self-justifying….During the campaign, when Trump attacked the ethnicity of an American judge or the parents of a fallen Muslim U.S. soldier, the response from his defenders on the right was usually “at least he fights!” Such amorality was warranted, many explained, because if Clinton had won, America would be “over.”
….I’d point out that such thinking could invite the worst and most opportunistic creatures to infiltrate the movement. Except they already have.
I don’t expect conservatives to become liberals just because Trump is such an odious creature. Why should they? But I wish there were more like Goldberg who were willing to acknowledge head-on the cynical racial alliances conservatives have made to gain power. It doesn’t start with Trump by any means, but calling out Trump and the alt-right for what they are is at least a start.