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Letting users bypass App Store would be security risk, says Apple | Apple

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Allowing users to bypass the App Store would lead to a wave of damaging malware on iPhones and iPads, Apple has warned, as the company faces the prospect of sweeping regulatory action on both sides of the Atlantic.

Opening up iOS to “sideloading”, the name for installing software from unapproved sources, could allow malicious software to hold user data to ransom, let children bypass parental controls, or lead to rampant piracy, the company claims in a new paper.

It’s a rare direct intervention in policy from the iPhone maker, which normally declines to discuss “hypotheticals”. But it comes as legislators in the US, and regulators in the UK and EU, are considering proposals to force the company to allow sideloaded apps, limit its own ability to bundle services with the iPhone, or require it to offer equal access to its competitors, as methods of weakening Apple’s dominance over the mobile economy.

The policy paper, posted to Apple’s site on Wednesday morning, argues that the company’s strict control of the iOS App Store is crucial for the “highly effective” security and privacy of the iPhone to function. “Allowing sideloading would degrade the security of the iOS platform and expose users to serious security risks not only on third-party app stores, but also on the App Store,” the paper claims.

“Because of the large size of the iPhone user base and the sensitive data stored on their phones – photos, location data, health and financial information – allowing sideloading would spur a flood of new investment into attacks on the platform.”

Apple argues that mobile platforms are distinct from computers, which have always allowed users to install software downloaded from the internet. “iPhone is used every day by over a billion people – for banking, to manage health data, and to take pictures of their families. This large user base would make an appealing and lucrative target for cybercriminals and scammers, and allowing sideloading would spur a flood of new investment into attacks on iPhone, well beyond the scale of attacks on other platforms like Mac,” the paper says.

As well as simple malware, Apple argues that more nuanced harms would come to users, in a narrative “following the day of John and his seven-year-old daughter, Emma, as they navigate this more uncertain world”. Without parental controls on apps and games, for instance, the company says unscrupulous developers might encourage children to purchase in-game items with their parents’ credit cards, while adults may accidentally end up subscribing to pirated apps, “unknowingly supporting a fraudulent scheme that deprives developers of their earnings”.

The company’s claims are partially backed up by analysis from Google suggesting that Android, which does allow sideloaded apps, has malware installed on 0.1% of devices at any given time – about 3m phones.

But critics argue that focusing on sideloading allows Apple to dismiss the many smaller changes that could open up competition on iOS without harming user security. “I DON’T want alternative app stores or sideloading on iOS. That’ll make the platform much worse,” wrote Apple developer Marco Arment, creator of Instapaper and Overcast, last month. “I want in-app purchasing for digital goods to have the same rules as physical purchases. And if Apple continues not to bend on the latter, governments may soon force the former.”



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I can’t charge my electric car cheaply because I’m too close to an RAF base | Money

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A few months ago I decided to switch energy supplier and moved to Octopus Energy’s Go tariff, principally because it offers cheap electric car charging overnight at a rate of 5p/kWh.

I applied to have the required smart meter installed. But after being given a date, I was later declined on the basis that smart meters cannot work at my address because they interfere with the missile early warning system at RAF Fylingdales.

Initially, I thought this was a joke. I have been involved with the construction of hundreds of new homes in Teesside, all of which have had smart meters installed.

Smart Energy GB, the body responsible for the rollout, has confirmed that this is very real, and smart meters installed in the area will not have had their smart capacity turned on.

I was told that a new meter is being worked upon and will eventually replace those already installed.

Meanwhile, I am having to charge my car at a premium rate of 16.76p/kWh which is costing me about £26 more a week than it would be on the Go tariff.

AM, Guisborough

Given that your house is more than 20 miles from the RAF base in question, I, too, was amazed that this could be an issue, but it is – and also in other areas close to bases.

Smart Meter GB has confirmed this is the case and says it is working on a solution – a communications hub that will enable people living near sensitive RAF sites to use smart meters.

It says these will be offered to customers “in the coming months”.

It adds those in the affected area, who had already had smart meters installed should be able to have the hubs retrofitted.

Meanwhile, Octopus has come up with a solution for your problem. It has offered to add you to the trial of these new meters, which, in turn, will allow you to go on the Go tariff.

It says it hopes to install your new meter before Christmas. It has also said that if you get the log from your charging firm, showing how much electricity you have used for the car since the switch took place, it will retroactively apply the savings that you would have gained had the smart meter worked from the start – a generous offer.

We welcome letters but cannot answer individually. Email consumer.champions@theguardian.com or write to Guardian, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include a phone number. Letters are subject to our terms: gu.com/letters-terms

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China’s Yutu rover spots ‘mysterious hut’ on far side of the Moon

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Cube-shaped object is probably just a rock. Yutu will check it out anyway

China’s Moon rover, Yutu 2, has sent images of a strangely geometric object.…

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Strikepay struck gold at National Startup Awards 2021

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Strikepay, founded by fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, scooped the top award for its fast-growing cash-free tipping tech.

Irish fintech company Strikepay has scooped the top prize at this year’s National Startup Awards.

The start-up, previously called Strike, was founded in 2020 to enable cash-free tipping without the need for a payment terminal or a new app on a customer’s phone.

Its founders, fintech entrepreneurs Oli Cavanagh and Charles Dowd, raised €625,000 in seed funding earlier this year and said they intended to seek a further €6.5m in investment by the end of 2021.

Strikepay has already begun acquiring and collaborating with other companies to bolster its product offering. In June, it acquired UK payments rival Gratsi and in April it appointed former Just Eat exec Edel Kinane as its chief growth officer.

Earlier in the year, it teamed up with Camile Thai Kitchen to enable contactless tipping for food delivery drivers and partnered with mobility company Bolt to bring its cashless tipping technology to taxis in Dublin.

Strikepay was one of several winners at the awards ceremony, which was livestreamed last night (2 December).

Other winners included health-tech start-up Stimul.ai, customer analysis tech business Glimpse, and sheep monitoring start-up Cotter Agritech, which has been participating in a new accelerator programme at University College Dublin.

As well as taking the top award, Strikepay also won Best Fintech Startup.

This year marked the 10th year of the National Startup Awards. The event was sponsored by Enterprise Ireland, Microfinance Ireland, Sage, Cronin Accountants and McCann Fitzgerald.

Last year’s top award was given to drone delivery service Manna. The start-up had been working with companies such as Tesco, Just Eat and Camile Thai to test its drones, and has seen further growth since then.

The full list of winners at the 2021 awards, in order of gold, silver and bronze, are:

Startup of the Year 2021

Strikepay

Early Stage Startup

Imvizar, CyberPie, The Fifth Dimension

Emerge Tech Startup

Xunison, Helgen Technologies, LiveCosts.com

Fintech Startup

Strikepay, ID-Pal, Itus Secure Technologies

Food and Drink Startup

Fiid, SiSú, Thanks Plants

Social or Sustainable Startup

Altra, Peer, Fifty Shades Greener

Product and Manufacturing Startup

Cotter Agritech, Orca Board, Filter

E-commerce and Retail Startup

FinalBend, The Book Resort, Nufields

Tech Startup

Glimpse, LegitFit, Examfly

Medtech Startup

Stumul.ai, SymPhysis Medical, Bonafi

Covid Pivot or Response Startup

Zoom Party/Find A Venue, KSH Group, Streat School

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