Uber Had the Opportunity to Monitor Everything on Your iPhone’s Screen

Daniel Jalkut:

Yesterday, Gizmodo reported that Uber had been granted an entitlement for their iOS app that allowed them to capture an image of an iPhone’s screen at any time, even when the Uber app was not the active app on the phone. This is a big deal, because users don’t typically expect than an iPhone app that is not active might have the ability to eavesdrop on anything they are doing.

I have long felt that the sandboxing infrastructure on both iOS and Mac should be used to more accurately convey to users specifically what the apps they install are capable of doing. Currently the sandboxing system is used primarily to identify to Apple what a specific app’s privileges are. The requested entitlements are used to inform Apple’s decision to approve or reject an app, but the specific list of entitlements is not easily available to users, whose security is actually on the line.

This is absolutely fucking ridiculous. Fuck Uber. Apple should be ashamed for working with them at any level. Allowing an app to covertly record your screen without any prompting is exactly the kind of thing that Apple’s iOS app review process should prevent.

Uber claims they didn’t do anything wrong with this ability, the security researchers told Gizmodo that they didn’t detect anything going on with this code.

There are companies that are less trustworthy than Uber, but few have the opportunity to be as evil on such a large scale. Enabling them to do anything more than operate at a basic level on your platform is a mistake. At this point Apple should block them entirely and attempt to help the Taxi industry to reform and compete with Uber. Not that Apple would ever would, but still that would be the best thing to come out of this. The next best thing would be the improvements to the entitlement system that Jalkut suggests.

I wouldn’t even bother to wonder what Uber are doing on Android, where security is a fucking joke and carriers are still selling devices running ancient versions of that operating system that are affected by dozens of security vulnerabilities. This is especially true for pay-as-you-go phones sold cheaply at places like Walmart, Target, and so on. Those carriers and stores are endangering their customers by continuing to sell these devices.

A Legally Operated Taxi Service Wouldn’t Do This

Mike Isaac for the New York Times:

Uber has for years engaged in a worldwide program to deceive the authorities in markets where its low-cost ride-hailing service was being resisted by law enforcement or, in some instances, had been outright banned.

The program, involving a tool called Greyball, uses data collected from the Uber app and other techniques to identify and circumvent officials. Uber used these methods to evade the authorities in cities such as Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.

[…]

If users were identified as being connected to law enforcement, Uber Greyballed them by tagging them with a small piece of code that read “Greyball” followed by a string of numbers.

When someone tagged this way called a car, Uber could scramble a set of ghost cars inside a fake version of the app for that person to see, or show that no cars were available.

Intentionally obstructing local authorities from using their service probably isn’t illegal, but it isn’t something you would have to do if you were proud of your product and thought it was defensible in a court of law.

Could you imagine if Apple checked if users were government agents and shut off their laptop or desktop computers? Not that our government would worry, the president only uses devices that are designed in Korea.

Delete Uber Parts 1-3999

Nick Heer has this round-up of Uber in the news for the past 3 years. It includes this gem, from Buzzfeed:

Early this November, one of the reporters of this story, Johana Bhuiyan, arrived to Uber’s New York headquarters in Long Island City for an interview with Josh Mohrer, the general manager of Uber New York. Stepping out of her vehicle — an Uber car — she found Mohrer waiting for her. “There you are,” he said, holding his iPhone and gesturing at it. “I was tracking you.”

Mohrer never asked for permission to track her.

Espresso Steak

Espresso Steak As Depicted in the Menu
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Previously, I mentioned the Outback Steakhouse Coffee Steak

Today, I was the sampler of said Steak.

It was not terrible. I’d include pictures of said coffee steak but unfortunately my iPhone has decided that it isn’t serving pictures to iPhoto anymore. What a shame. In any case, the steak itself was just a normal rib-eye with perhaps the most subtle of coffee flavor to it. (edit, pictures added after figuring out how to deal with an insane iphone)

Actually it was labeled an “Espresso” steak, which I think had more to do with the amount of coffee flavor rather than the actual coffee type.

Actually it allows me to talk about service and food in Korea in general. Which is above-average, at least in Seoul.

Espresso Steak in the Cow-Flesh
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Okay so the Pros of eating here:

  • Fantastic service:
    At least in the city, you’ll have no problems with getting good service. While I’ve had to wait for crowds to get seated, I’ve never had to wait for a lazy waiter to serve me. This goes double for the quality of food. Which brings me to my next point.
  • Great food quality:
    I haven’t once gotten sick here due to the food quality. Not only is the food including the outback steak (fine imported meat), but the veggies are fresh and everything is as unprocessed as possible. It is also amusing to see imported American goods tagged with nutrition fact stickers in Korean.
  • Excellent Cleanliness:
    Whenever you go out to eat you will be handed a wrapped & sanitary wetnap for your protection. If you wash your hands before eating you’ll be exposed to many fewer germs since they often travel from hand-to-mouth. Every place I’ve eaten has had a clean kitchen, clean eating utensils, plates, and food.
  • No Tipping!:
    People here are paid what they’re paid, you do not tip them unless it is a particular skilled service like a haircut (mine cost $10 and is better than any I’ve ever gotten in the US). So all of you people who value price over quality have no excuse!
  • Reasonable portion sizes:
    I’ve lost weight while here and that isn’t for lack of trying. I’ve been drinking and eating out nearly every day but everything I eat here is of a reasonable size and value while retaining the highest quality and service.
  • Few Dairy Problems:
    I can’t eat dairy and there is a good probability that you or someone you know can’t, either. Like most Asian countries Korea doesn’t serve Dairy products with most of its food. Though I must admit that Baskin Robbins is a huge chain here. I see them everywhere.
  • Chicken:
    Do you like Fried and/or Marinated Chicken? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Every block has a beer & fried chicken place. Congratulations, you’re at home

Cons:

  • Relatively high meat prices:
    While yes, my steak was of a high quality, since there is little-to-no beef production in Korea it had to be imported from Australia and cost me nearly $30 USD after conversion!
  • Scary food! OH NOSE!!!!1111:
    If you’re an east-coast suburbanite fraidy cat you will definitely lose weight here against your will. The food is oftentimes difficult for folks who aren’t willing to try new things. Keep an open mind and you’ll be fine. Though I had to skip the octopus since I still can’t handle eating anything that had tentacles. Oh well, maybe I’ll get used to it some day.
  • All Korean Nutrition Labels if there are any at all:
    If you do have some kind of weird allergy you’re basically screwed. You won’t know what is in any food unless it is imported from America and you’re already familiar. Your best bet is to check out a Korean phrasebook for “I’ll die if I eat…” and memorize that list.
  • No Grocery Stores:
    Here in Seoul, at least, I can’t find a damn grocery store. Even if I wanted to make just a sandwich, I’d have a difficult time finding peanut butter and/or jelly. It might be due to the area I’m in, which is more of a business-y area than a normal residential area.

Overall the pros clearly outweigh the cons for me, so if I’m ever in a position to come back and for some crazy reason food is a factor, it wouldn’t take long to say yes!

Mmm, as unprocessed as you can get food!
Photo Credit: TimeDoctor Dot Org

Tales from the Korean Apartment/Hotel-like Crypt: Week 2: Steak and Coffee, new Coffee Steak!: More Television than your body has room for.

There is an ad on TV for Korean outback steakhouse right now. The ad consists of a woman accidentally pouring coffee on her steak when a guy walks past. Then cuts to both of them enjoying some fine coffee-coated accident-steak. Finally they cut to the punchline: Yes, really. You can now order coffee-steak at Korean version of outback steakhouse.


Normal TV here consists of the following channels in my hotel:

  • Channel 26: The Game Show Channel.

This channel plays nothing but completely incompressible reality or game show fare. This is simultaneously the most immediately appealing channel to watch and later, the least.

One morning Channel 26 had a game/reality show on where the objectives all involved either sports in the dirt at some construction site with a digger in the background. Or, attempting to knock dirt off of a table without knocking down the lightsaber toy in the middle. Kind of like a hobo’s version of Jenga. Though I doubt the hobo would have batteries or a lightsaber toy. If anyone on this list knows a hobo, please let me know how they play Jenga.

Presumably only higher-order species play Jenga, like gorillas, dolphins, whales and humans. Real hobos may be excluded from it.

Otherwise, this channel plays the standard incomprehensible, but more normal, in-studio game shows. The other day one had contestants sitting a chair, getting quizzed by the host, placing a strange black pillow over their faces, and then giving the answer to the initial question. Everyone in the studio audience claps, and is happy. I am, however, bored with this channel now and ready to switch to…

  • Channel 17: The Korean Historical-Drama Channel

This channel is probably the most interesting just because I keep thinking there might be something to learn from it, but, no, there really isn’t anything of substance. Just Korean dudes in funny hats fighting and getting angry at their local park every ten minutes. I can only assume that this is really the Korean live-action equivalent of Dragon Ball Z due to the regularity in the script of both fighting and grunting. I assume this channel is popular because it actually has decent production values and is the only channel on which I’ve seen computer generated graphics. Outside of subtitled American films on…

  • Channel 22: The American Action Film/NCIS/Law and Order Channel

Ah, blessed sanity for the weary traveler. When I get home from work, this is the channel I tune to. The LCD television may be 17 hectares diagonal at best count. It may only display 480i. The shows may all have weird hieroglyphics at the bottom of the screen. But this is the only real channel for English-speaking, god fearing, real Americans. Whenever I watch this channel I can’t help but feel home-sick for SUVs (they have jeep ads during every commercial break)

P.S.

Please note that the title of the previous post was a reference to Parappa the Rappa, not suggesting that genocide is an actual option while you are experiencing culture shock.