Heart bleed Bug Infiltrates the Likes On The Internet (And This Isn’t The First Time)

what-heartbleed-can-doIf you’ve been relatively busy on the internet recently then you’re probably already aware of the situation regarding the Heartbleed bug. Throughout our daily lives we make use of a process that encrypts our data, this is so that people can’t just receive the data whenever they please and get information on people (that is until now). Whether you’re making use of social media applications or simply doing some banking on your phone, this process takes place and it’s something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Whenever it involves sharing data, it involves the use of OpenSSL. A brand new bug (known as the one and only ‘Heartbleed’) has struck again, as it has shifted the balance of internet trust amongst consumers to the negative side. If we can’t be completely sure our information is safe, how can we still go about using these applications? The bug itself is based off of a fault within a functionality for the OpenSSL library.

The bug was originally found by Neel Mehta, whom is from Google Security. The library we’re talking about is used on an incredibly large basis, as security vendors make efficient use of it to secure the browsing activities of users (whenever you see a site with the https:// in it, and you’re signing in you’re making use of OpenSSL). The Apache web server is the server that powers a large portion of the internet, and this particular server usually implements OpenSSL with its activities. As a matter of fact, you might be using OpenSSL at your business or house right now, as plenty of popular services on the internet make use of it as well (for example Yahoo!). While most sites have protected themselves from the bug, the initial news was a shock and had resulted in the discovery of information leaks all across the web. The leakage of information on the internet is never a good thing, especially when it could pertain to somebodies life financially.

Many people may be wondering why they should be worrying about this particular bug, but there are so many variables as to why you shouldn’t it’s sort of a silly question. There are plenty of write-ups that go through the process from a technical stand point, there is plenty of detail to go through but not everybody can understand the terms and phrases used. As a result, we’re going to go through it in “lamens terms”, so to speak. When the bug is implemented the attacker (whom is making use of this bug) is able to retrieve up to 64kb of memory from the remote system. This means that they could have access to usernames, passwords, even keys or any other information that could lead to something tragic happening should it get into the wrong hands. Sometimes they can even make use of the information they initially get to plan a bigger and better attack on the person.

For example, an attacker may be able to get a hold of keys and passwords that could pertain to another form of security, which they could then go on and infiltrate for themselves. At first glance you see 64kb and you think “well that’s not a lot, so there isn’t really much they could do,” but this is completely wrong. They would be able to connect as many times as they pleased, so if the attacker had the patient (as well as the will power) to really get something done, they could definitely do it. People have been encouraged to change not only their user names, but their passwords as well. When it comes to personal credentials it’s better to be safe rather than sorry, the bug itself seems to be patched right now but that doesn’t mean you weren’t affected. Consumers have been told to act as if they have been breached, just in case, because if you have and it seems like you haven’t the attacker could stay patient before they get to work.

Although there has been a rather tedious debate about this problem, it seems as if this isn’t the first time this has happened. The bug itself has been around for two years, which must be saying something about the teams that find and remove these bugs from the system. Many people are incredibly surprised that the bug is just being found right now, mainly because the OpenSSL code is of the open source descent and has been overlooked by tons (upon tons) of people. This not only speaks volumes pertaining to the security teams that prevent these issues, but also those who have to write the security software as well. If this took two years to find, what other potential bugs could there be in the system that exposes information? It feels like there needs to be a system in place that reviews software, because these types of things really aren’t great for society as a whole. If you can’t trust the security you’re presented with online, you’re not going to be very reliable as a consumer. If you can’t sell your products because they aren’t safe, you can’t maintain a business, it’s almost like a vicious circle.

This isn’t the first bug relating to information being leaked, as well as testing the trust of the internet as a whole (and it probably isn’t going to be the last one we see, either). Many people use the internet and have little worry when it comes to their security online, but hopefully this bug opened their eyes to the bigger picture; there are most definitely things to worry about while surfing the web. There have been reports of attackers whom use this attack getting information from Facebook accounts, as well as other social media outlets like Twitter and MySpace. As if that wasn’t scary enough, other attackers have been reportedly getting their hands on bank information, which could obviously turn somebodies life into shambles rather quickly. One final thing to note would be the fact that a fix wasn’t developed until sometime after the initial find, which just exposed users to a higher risk of having their security breached. I don’t know about you, but I may have to start sleeping with garbage bags over my windows (maybe some aluminum foil if I’m feeling fancy).

How to Protect Yourself

  1. You should make sure that you’re aware, check to see whether any of your applications (as well as websites) you use on a daily basis have made use of OpenSSL. If they do make use of it, see whether they were vulnerable to the attack or not. Most sites have an update pertaining to the issue, so you should be aware if it has been attacked right away. Another thing you could do is use this site, as it’s rather efficient and quick.
  2. Make sure that you regenerate any private keys you’ve made use of (this is regarding any sites you may run). If your keys were leaked while your version of OpenSSL wasn’t patched then it could lead to potential problems in the long run, as the attackers still have the ability to monitor the data (meaning they could intercept it if they please) even after the initial attack is done.
  3. Update your OpenSSL, as if this wasn’t blatantly obvious! If you don’t update your OpenSSL you’re going to leave all of your information exposed to attackers, although this is an automatic process for most places it should be used. Just to make sure you should have a version of 1.0.1g or higher.
  4. Be sure that you check up on your SSL configurations on your websites and your mail providers. There are plenty of sites available that will allow you to check them quickly and effortlessly, so make use of these to have a smoother experience.
  5. Be smart about your endeavours online, if there’s anything this whole article taught you it’s that the security issues online are definitely there. Whether it’s simply changing your password evry now and then or going all out on web security, you should have some sort of security routine that’s going to help you avoid these types of situation (in the future, that is).

All About Apple’s iPhone 6 (What We Know So Far)

There are always plenty of rumours and speculation surrounding the release of a brand new smartphone (especially if that particular smartphone happens to be of the Apple descent!). There have been tons of different things being said regarding the specs, as well as the new features and stuff that will be implemented within this newer version. Apparently it’s slated for release in September of this year, so it seems like we may not have to way as long as we were anticipating for this release! If you’re the kind of techie who loves to get their hands on the latest Apple technology, this is probably going to be a great read for you. Although nothing is “set in stone”, we can definitely hold high hopes regarding the new features and technology put into this version of the iPhone; the iPhone 6!

There were rumours regarding larger iPhones all the way back in December of 2012, but of course those went unanswered (this came on the heels of an analyst noting the fact that there were iPhones 6 prototypes with screen sizes of 4.8 inches). As if that wasn’t enough, a more similar rumur regarding the iPhone Math release (which sported a 4.8 inch display) alongside the announcement of iPhone 5’s, which lead people to believe that future releases would have the amount of screen we’ve been craving. It seems as if during the year of 2013 Apple was focusing on being less expensive, while 2014 seems like it’s the year of development pertaining to display sizes.

The Details

Size

One of the main things that have been getting looked at this year is the size of the phones screen, which is supposedly going to get bigger than it already is. The display of this year’s version has increased from the original 3.5 inches to 4 inches with the introduction of the iPhone 5, so of course we can only expect to see the screen get a bit larger with the release of the iPhone 6. Apple, respectively, has been fiddling with the size of the screen to try and perfect it, but the most common rumour surrounding this topic would probably be the one that has these screens labelled at 4.7 inches (as well as 5.5 inches, respectively). This means that the new generation of iPhones may have larger screens, Apple even stated that consumers wanted larger display screens themselves.

The size of the phone is supposed to be relatively average, as the expected release in September is going to be the 4.7’ display model (the larger version, 5.5”, seems as if it’s going to come later in the year). Another key rumour regarding iPhones would be the fact that they might include a durable sapphire display, which is a first time thing. There are also rumours that the larger types of the iPhone will adopt a thinner chassis.

It seems as if the two prevalent numbers that keep coming up when we talk about the screen sizes are 4.7 and 5.5”. With these numbers, we can only expect that these are going to be the screen dimensions they decide to go with in the end. When Apple made the initial switch from the resolution of 960×640 for the iPhone 4 to a much larger resolution of 1136×640 with the iPhone 5. This would be the first change regarding the screens size on an iPhone since the year 2007!

Development

When people started talking about lowering the costs of an iPhone any rumours of larger iPhone 6’s died. If they were going to try and develop phones that weren’t so expensive it would also seem like they wouldn’t develop the larger screens; that is until June 2013. This is when Apple was said to be testing a 4.7 inch (as well as a 5.7 inch) display which were garnering a release in 2014. Another thing to look at would be the situation in November of 2013, where Bloomberg had stated two iPhone releases were slated for 2014. The first one would be the 4.7 inch display, while the second would be the 5.5 inch prototype. One of the most key components to these new screens would be the curved glass, as they “curve down at the edges”. Although the curved display accusation was shot down, we still think that there is going to be “dual iPhone” release this year.

Display Technology

Display technology is actually quite important when it comes to implementation of iPhones, the current series of iPhones makes use of LTPS (Low Temperature Poly Silicon) technology, which is most likely going to make its return for the release of the iPhone 6. When it came to the usage of an iPad Air (as well as the Retina iPad mini), Apple decided to implement IGZO technology (Indium Gallium Zinc Oxide) in order to create a much more thin display (the display also doesn’t use up as much power because of this). This would save a lot more power as opposed to a a-Si (amorphous silicon) display, which was used on previous models of equipment. LTPS has much better electron mobility when compared to the IGZO technology, so it would only seem logical for Apple to keep their eyes set on the LTPS. In the end, the rule “if it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!” would apply here.

The Glass

The glass is the main component of an iPhone, when you think about it. What is the most common thing you find yourself touching while using a smartphone? The glass that is covering the display. There have been many advances regarding glass concepts in phones, so it’s not surprising to see that they may be using a nifty type of material this time around. At the moment Apple is making efficient use of Corning Gorilla Glass, which is not only incredibly durable but resists damaging like a charm. Although this is the case, it seems as if a few reports have Apple switching to sapphire crystal for their future releases. Sapphire crystal is used for smaller iPhone components, things like the camera lens and the home button the iPhone 5s. It has been rather expensive to produce in the quantities necessary for mass production, but Apple has recently become partners with GT Advanced in order to cut these costs. Not only that, but the production of sapphire crystal going to be rather steady at this point.

The combination of Apple’s investment and GT Advance’s technology is something that may change the world, as it will mean the company can produce much, much more sapphire crystal for only a fraction of the price. Apple would obviously have no problem integrating these materials in their new phones, especially since they have such a steady source of it now. Trial runs have already begun regarding iPhones fitted with sapphire crystal displays, as Apple has ordered about 100 of these particular devices from Foxconn (which is their assembly partner).

The Design

The design has always been an important part pertaining to iPhones, if it isn’t designed properly it isn’t going to be as effective (nor as useful) as you had originally intended it to be. There were rumours regarding the iPhone sporting a curved display early on, but as of recent they have stated that it has a flat display (much like its predecessor, the iPhone 5s). When it comes to backlighting with an iPhone, the LED is important to take into account. Advancements regarding this technology might allow for the iPhone to be lighter, as well as much thinner than usual. Apple is supposedly going to switch from a 0.6mm LED backlight down towards a much, much thinner model sporting 0.4mm. This should give people a little bit more room to work with, as you can never have enough room! Not only that, but the increased amount of room might allow Apple to implement some more components to upgrade the devices power (or simply just put more uses into it). Schematics pertaining to the 4.7 (as well as the 5.7 inch) iPhone were “leaked” in a sense during the month of March, this particular leak was from a Japanese magazine known as “MacFan”. For the iPhone 6c, there was a schematic that showed us a flat device that had no bezels on it, but there were also plenty of questionable attributes regarding the design of the phone itself. Some of these attributes were a power button that was located to the left-top of the device, as well as a LED-flash that wasn’t in line with the True Tone Flash.

There were actually images of a supposed “iPhone 6” released, although they were released on Chinese micro blogger site. The phone itself looked a little bitch sketchy, as it showed a protruding lens of a camera (which isn’t very ideal in my opinion) and a rounded flash. Although nobody is sure if they are legitimate photos, it’s still something to go on!

Processors

If the phone itself isn’t powerful it isn’t going to do very well on the market, but that isn’t going to be a problem with the Phone 6 it seems. The iPhone 5s made use of a 64-bit A7 28-nanometer chip, which is manufactured by Samsung. The iPhone 6 is supposedly going to go a little bit further when it comes to processing power, as they plan on using a 10-nanomater A8 chip with the phone, these particular chips are from TSMC. Not only is this processor smaller and more efficient when it comes to energy, but it’s an improvement from the previous version of iPhone released. Samsung isn’t going to be completely cut out of the picture, as they are going to aid TSMC with the manufacturing of these processor chips (think of it as lessening the work load for your friend). The A7 chip showed that it was a lot better in comparison to the A6 within an iPhone 5, as there was a whopping 31 percent in favour of the A7. The leap being made towards a 20-nanometer A8 chip will definitely create a more powerful device, which, of course, is something everybody can enjoy!

The A8 chip supposedly sports a quad-core 64 bit processor, as well as quad-core graphics for those special iPhone games that were more demanding than you thought. Although the A8 is more powerful than the V7 chip, it seems as if it only sports the same amount of ram as its predecessor (which would be a measly 1GB of RAM). Apple currently makes use of the PowerVR graphics and video hardware with their devices, but it seems like they may make a switch for this new release. The newest addition to the series will probably make use of the Series6 graphics that are being used in iPhone 5’s, but they may also implement the 6XT PowerVR GPU’s (which happen to up the benchmark rate by around 50%).

All in all it seems as if Apple was really trying to bring this heat (so to speak!) this time around, these new additions are something to look forward to (and that is to say the least, in my opinion). There are plenty of other features to get into regarding the iPhone 6, but nothing is set in stone at this particular moment. One of the extra goodies you could think about would be the improvements regarding the camera. This version is supposedly going to make used of OIS, which is Optical Image Stabilization. This particular feature is said to be a way to improve the stability of your pictures you take with your phone, could this lead to a whole new generation “phone photographers”? One thing is for sure, these new features will definitely allow users to maximize the usage of their iPhones that is if they already haven’t done so. My personal favourite would probably have to be the new sapphire crystal they’re going to use for the display, if the display isn’t smooth to the touch I don’t want to use it.