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Cook tells Trump coding should be requirement in schools

Apple CEO Tim Cook and other technology leaders met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House today to share their views on how the federal government could improve its public services and use technology to reduce government spending.

According to Recode, Cook told Trump that coding should be a requirement in schools.

Cook said the same thing when Apple debuted the Swift Playgrounds app, saying that “We believe coding should be a required language in all schools.”

Cook also suggested that the White House modernize the US government’s IT systems.

“The US should have the most modern government in the world. Today it doesn’t,” Cook said.

Trump said the government could save up to $1 trillion over 10 years by updating its information technology systems, which should help cut costs and improve public services.

“Our goal is to lead a sweeping transformation of the federal government’s technology that will deliver dramatically better services for citizens,” Trump said. “Government needs to catch up with the technology revolution. We’re going to change that with the help of great American businesses like the people assembled.”

He called for a “sweeping transformation” of the government’s outdated computer systems.

Amazon’s Bezos added that the government should make more use of commercially available technologies and Palantir CEO Alex Karp suggested tapping into big data in order to catch and prevent fraudulent federal spending.

NOTE: Due to the political nature of this article, comments are disabled on this post.

Image: Reuters

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Apple CEO Tim Cook meeting with President Trump to talk trimming government waste

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More than a dozen tech CEOs, including Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, will meet with U.S. President Donald Trump and his staff on Monday, discussing ways that the government can trim costs and improve security with the help of American corporations.

WikiLeaks: CIA has been hacking wireless routers for years

A new batch of confidential “Vault 7” documents, leaked by the non-profit whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, has revealed that the United States Central Intelligence Agency has been hacking routers from major brands for years, turning them into surveillance devices.

The reported “Cherry Blossom” tool can modify a router’s firmware without a victim’s knowledge, giving the attacker a wide range of capabilities like eavesdropping on network traffic, gathering passwords, scanning for email addresses and phone numbers and more.

The attacker even has the power to redirect an unsuspecting user to a particular website, including government-created webpages used for phishing purposes.

Once infected, the backdoor remains functional even after a router is updated to a newer firmware version, so long as it has not changed its underlying hardware or operating system.

The hack cannot be deployed remotely. Instead, the CIA can install it on a target router using its Claymore tool or by side-loading a compromised firmware using supply chain tactics (intercepting the target device between the factory and the end user).

ZDNet reports that the documents reveal that the “Cherry Blossom” hack supports more than two-dozen router models from major manufacturers.

Among the compromised router brands are the devices from Asus, Belkin, Buffalo, Dell, Dlink, Linksys, Motorola, Netgear, Senao and US Robotics. However, Apple’s AirPort devices don’t seem to be among them, but the fact they’re not listed doesn’t mean that the CIA hasn’t hacked Time Capsule and AirPort devices.

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Apple could open app development facility in Indonesia

Apple could open an app development center in Jakarta, the capital and the most populous city of Indonesia and home to an upcoming Apple research and development center.

According to a source who spoke with Japanese outlet Nikkei, Apple’s app development center will open in suburban Jakarta as early as October, allowing the company to start selling its newest phones in Indonesia.

The Cupertino technology giant currently relies on a network of resellers to push iPhones in the country as the devices are unavailable through its online store in Indonesia.

But what do apps have to do with hardware sales?

Nikkei explains that Indonesia in 2015 imposed regulatory rules requiring phones sold in the country to use at least 30 percent locally procured components by 2017. Apple did not set up local production in the country, but last year the government had a change of heart and now counts locally developed mobile apps as “locally produced” content for smartphones.

Sensing an opportunity, Apple is now set to open an app development facility in Jakarta.

However, the policy change has drawn the ire of Samsung, which in 2015 established a smartphone production line inside its existing manufacturing plant in suburban Jakarta.

“Had the rule on app development come earlier, the South Korean company could have saved a lot of money by using Apple’s approach,” added Nikkei. “Policy shift means Apple can meet the quota with a smaller investment,” reads the article.

Similar sourcing requirements for foreign goods have prevented Apple from selling iPhones directly to customers in India. Recently, however, Apple and the Indian government have come to terms of doing business locally, paving the way for iPhone SE production in the country.

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iCloud vs. iTunes backups, government demands, your privacy, and a plea for more options

Apple's latest privacy report shows that if data privacy is your primary concern, go Galactica and keep your backups offline.

Apple has posted its Report on Government and Private Party Requests for Customer Information for the second half of 2016.

Apple is very seriously committed to protecting your data and we work hard to deliver the most secure hardware, software and services available. We believe our customers have a right to understand how their personal data is managed and protected. This report provides information regarding requests Apple received from government agencies and private parties from July 1 through December 31, 2016.

The TL;DR of it is that demands on the data being stored on our iPhones, iPads, and Macs are, unsurprisingly, up.

In this context, it's important to remember that while Apple protects messages and other personal data with end-to-end encryption, Apple has to turn over iCloud backups when and if required to do so by law.

If your primary concern is convenience and data retention — you never want to lose a family photo, for example — then there's nothing new here. Keep doing what you're doing unless and until your priorities change.

If your primary concern is data protection, though — you never want anyone else, including a government agency to access your information — then skip iCloud backups and do an old-school iTunes backup and local Mac backup. And make sure it's all encrypted.

How to backup your data iPhone and iPad with iTunes

How to make an encrypted backup of your Mac

That, and join me in hoping Apple provides a way for expert users and privacy advocates to encrypt backups in such a way that absolutely no one else can ever access them. Even if it takes jumping through some initial set-up hoops, and is fail secure rather than fail safe.

That no only protects us against the abuse of privacy but hackers who get their hands on the tools used to abuse our data or the data itself once it's been demanded.

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