Aussie Mac Zone ~ Episode 375

Show 375 – March 23, 2021

Run Sheet ~ Zarn & Michael                


Our Aussie Apple Ramblings 

Story 1 ~  

MS macOS malware shoots up 1,000% in 2020

Cult of Mac reports ~ Cybercriminals reportedly created more macOS malware in 2020 than from 2012 to 2019 combined. The days when Mac users could happily assume they weren’t in danger from hackers are long over.

But the situation remains far worse for Windows users. Researchers found 135 times as many Windows malware samples last year as ones targeting macOS.

The development of macOS malware went up over 1,000% last year, according to Atlas VPN. There were 674,273 new malware samples found in 2020 compared to 56,556 samples detected the previous year. Previously, the highest number was 92,570 samples discovered in 2018.

“Contributing to this record surge in threats is the fact that new malicious software is now easier to engineer than ever before,” said Rachel Welch, COO of Atlas VPN. “Nowadays, hackers do not even need advanced programming skills since they can purchase a ready-made malware code, tailor it to their needs with a little bit of coding and establish a completely new threat.”

The assault continues in 2021. For example, researchers recently found Silver Sparrow, the first malware that targets both Intel-based Macs as well ones running the new Apple M1 processor. 



Story 2 ~

ZK ‘Delete it’: Warning issued over sophisticated ‘AusPost’ scam

yahoo finance reports ~ Scamwatch has issued a warning to Australians about a fake text that appears to be from Australia Post that is actually an attempt to use steal users’ personal and banking information.

The postal service said it was aware of fake text messages being circulated that told recipients of a “damaged parcel status report” and prompts users to “read and resolve” by clicking a link.

The text appears all the more deceptive because it uses the recipient’s name.

“Once clicked, the link will lead to a fraudulent ‘interactive parcel management system’ which is designed to steal your personal and financial information,” AusPost said on its website.

The user is then confronted with ‘Suzy’, a fake interactive chat bot that interacts with users to gain trust and convince them to hand over their personal and financial details.

But Scamwatch warned Australians to “watch out” for the clever phishing scam.

“Watch out for the latest text message scams impersonating Australia Post,” it tweeted this week.

“If you receive one of these messages just delete it.”

The postal service said it would never email, call, or text you asking for personal information or payment.

What do I do if I’ve received this text?

Take a screenshot and forward it on to Australia Post at Then: “delete it immediately”.

And if you think you’ve been scammed or your identity has been compromised, call IDCARE at 1800 595 160.

Scams should also be reported to the Scamwatch website.



Story 3 ~

MS Apple Bent the Rules for Russia—and Other Countries Will Take Note

WIRED reports ~ Russian iPhone buyers will soon be prompted to install software developed in that country, setting a precedent that other authoritarian governments may follow.

BEGINNING IN APRIL, new iPhones and other iOS devices sold in Russia will include an extra setup step. Alongside questions about language preference and whether to enable Siri, users will see a screen that prompts them to install a list of apps from Russian developers. It’s not just a regional peculiarity. It’s a concession Apple has made to legal pressure from Moscow—one that could have implications far beyond Russia’s borders.

The law in question dates back to 2019, when Russia dictated that all computers, smartphones, smart TVs, and so on sold there must come preloaded with a selection of state-approved apps that includes browsers, messenger platforms, and even antivirus services. Apple has stopped short of that; the suggested apps aren’t pre-installed, and users can opt not to download them. But the company’s decision to bend its rules on pre-installs could inspire other repressive regimes to make similar demands—or even more invasive ones. 

“This comes within the context of years and years of mounting regulatory pressure on tech companies” in Russia, says Adrian Shahbaz, director for democracy and technology at the human rights nonprofit Freedom House. The country has undertaken a massive effort to reshape its internet toward mechanisms for control, censorship, and mass surveillance. And the government has imposed increasingly strict regulations on domestic tech companies. “They must store data on local servers, provide security agencies with decryption keys, and remove content that violates Russian law,” Shahbaz says, though not all companies do all of those things. “And now they’re being forced to promote government-approved apps on their platforms.”

The pre-installed apps law came to be known as the “law against Apple,” because it essentially dared Apple to pull out of the Russian market entirely rather than change the rules in the company’s controlled iPhone ecosystem. Instead, Apple has carved out an exception that others, including Android manufacturers, have not. Google, which develops the open source Android mobile operating system, doesn’t manufacture most of that platform’s hardware directly, and it doesn’t control which apps come pre-installed on third-party devices. (Google does make the Pixel phone but doesn’t sell it in Russia.)



Story 4 ~

ZK A Security App’s Fake Reviews Give Us a Window Into ‘App Store Optimization’ reports ~ The CEO of pEp purchased fake reviews to bolster his app’s ratings on the Google Play Store and the Apple’s App Store.

A company that makes an email app that helps users encrypt their emails paid for fake reviews in an attempt to get more people to download its products, according to leaked emails obtained by Motherboard.

The CEO of pEp, a Luxembourg-based company that makes the pEp email encryption apps for Android and iOS, commissioned a marketing company to write fake reviews that he himself wrote in the summer of last year. Leon Schumacher asked the marketing company Mobiaso to post 40 five-star reviews in English, French, and German to the Google Play Store. Schumacher included an Excel spreadsheet that contained the specific text that he wanted Mobiaso to use. 

“Super easy privacy,” one fake review said. “One of the best mail applications. I have never had problems and I suggest it all the time to friends,” another said.

“Can we speed up today and do 12 ratings per day do 7 reviews per day (Please use the Texts below for the right countries (that I forwarded already per earlier e-mail),” Schumacher wrote in an email to Mobiaso. 



Story 5 ~ 

MS Apple discontinues two more iMac desktop configurations

Mashable reports ~ The Apple iMac Pro is no longer available and now it looks like the remaining iMac desktop options are more limited as well.

As Apple news site MacRumors noticed Saturday morning, two options are no longer listed on the 21.5-inch iMac computer available from the Apple Store. Now there’s only 256GB storage for that screen size on the Apple website. There used to be 512GB and 1TB options. 

The larger 27-inch iMac still has a 512GB storage option, which is the most storage currently available on the iMacs’ solid-state drives. 



Story 6 ~

ZK FCC slaps robocaller with $225 million fine as part of broader crackdown

It’s the biggest fine in the agency’s history, as the new acting FCC chairwoman takes on robocalls.

The Federal Communications Commission issued its largest fine in history, against Texas-based telemarketers who transmitted approximately 1 billion robocalls to sell fake health insurance policies. The $225 million fine is part of the first major effort by acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel to stamp out illegal robocalls. 

The agency alleges in a statement Wednesday that the telemarketers illegally spoofed phone numbers to sell short-term, limited duration health insurance plans, which falsely claimed to offer health insurance plans from well-known health insurance companies such as Aetna, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna and UnitedHealth Group.

The agency also delivered cease-and-desist letters to six voice providers that have consistently violated FCC guidelines on the use of autodialed and prerecorded voice message calls, the agency said. And the FCC launched a Robocall Response Team as well as delivering letters to the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Justice and the National Association of State Attorneys General to renew state-federal partnerships to combat the proliferation of illegal robocalls.

So hopefully The Australian government will also start doing something about it here.



How To 1 ~ 


Did You Know You Can Record Videos and Take Pictures with Your iPhone Simultaneously?

iDROPNEWS tells us ~ Have you ever taken a video and wished you could snap a picture at the same time? If you are an iPhone owner, you are in luck. Your phone can already do it. And you don’t need to purchase any fancy recording software, either. The Camera app in iOS is already capable. Read on to find out how.

Start Recording a Video

Before you can record video and take photos simultaneously, you need to start with the video recording feature in the Camera app.

      1. Open the Camera app.
      2. Tap on (or swipe to) Video to select the video recording option.
      3. Tap on the red button to start recording.

Check the timer and make sure it’s counting up. If it timer is increasing, you know that your iPhone is recording video.

Take a Photo While Recording Video

Once your video is recording, you can snap a photo without interrupting the video.

You should see a new white-colored button appear next to the red recording button. This white button is the camera shutter button.

Tapping the white button will capture a photo while the video continues to record.

If you don’t immediately see this camera button, you should swipe right on the video recording screen to see if it will appear.

Finding Your Photos and Videos

Once you are done recording and taking photos, you can close the Camera app and jump over to the Photos app. Both the photos and videos should be clustered together at the same point in your Photos timeline.



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