The Tesla app now supports ultra wideband (UWB) in the 2024.2.3 version of the app for iPhones. Spotted by Not a Tesla App, it promises more reliable and secure use of phones as digital keys than Bluetooth does because UWB’s precision tracking lets the car know exactly where the key is, which also helps protect against replay spoofing attacks.
The article says this even comes down to knowing which user is on the driver’s side of the car in the event that two people who have phone keys for the car are getting into it. It’s the same type of precision tracking that lets you accurately locate Apple’s AirTags even when the thing they’re attached to is lost in the cushions of your couch.
The change isn’t available for Android users yet, but some recent Pixel and Galaxy phones include UWB chips, so support could come to them eventually.
After downloading the update, users should be prompted to “Upgrade Your Phone Key,” followed by a request to give the app access to Nearby Interactions, an iOS setting that opens up the iPhone’s U1 chip to the app. That can be found under Settings > Privacy & Security > Nearby Interactions.
According to Not a Tesla App, only the newest Model 3 and 2023 Model X support the feature, while the newer Model X and S and Cybertruck should get it down the line. All iPhones from the 11 onward come with UWB, excluding SE models.
The Samsung Galaxy S23 series will get AI features in late March
Right now, you need a Galaxy S24 phone to use the very latest AI features from Samsung, but that’s changing next month. In late March, Samsung will extend Galaxy AI features to the S23 series — including the S23 FE — as well as recent foldables and tablets as part of the One UI 6.1 update. It’s all free for now, but after 2025 you might have to pay up.
The Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 are slated to get the update, as well as the Galaxy Tab S9, S9 Plus, and S9 Ultra. If Samsung wants to ship Galaxy AI to 100 million phones this year like it says it will, that’s a solid start. The One UI 6.1 update will include the much-touted AI features on the S24 series, including live translation capabilities, generative photo and video editing, and Google’s Circle to Search feature. This suite of features includes a mix of on- and off-device processing, just like it does on the S24 series.
An older phone learning new tricks is unequivocally a good thing, even if Galaxy AI is a little bit of a mixed bag right now. But my overall impression is that these features do occasionally come in handy, and when they go sideways they’re mostly harmless. One UI 6.1 will also include a handful of useful non-AI updates, such as lockscreen widgets and the new, unified Quick Share.
Stealthy backdoor Mac malware that can wipe out your files
MacOS is generally perceived to be more effective at keeping malware out compared to PCs and other operating systems. However, that’s not the reality; MacOS is just as vulnerable to malware threats as any other operating system, and this misconception can lead you to not be as vigilant regarding malware threats.
As evidence, there’s a new one you need to be aware of called SpectralBlur, which is a sophisticated backdoor malware threat targeting Macs that’s capable of wiping out your files without you even knowing how and when it got there in the first place.
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What is SpectralBlur?
SpectralBlur is a backdoor malware that was created by Lazarus, a hacking group from North Korea. Lazarus has been behind several hacks, including KandyKorn, which targeted blockchain engineers in cryptocurrency.
For quite some time, SpectralBlur went undetected because antivirus software on Mac wasn’t able to pick up on it. It wasn’t until August 2023 that it was uploaded to VirusTotal — a virus detection software — published this new malware threat, and it gathered attention in the cybersecurity community. It’s even being called “The First Malware of 2024” and was dissected originally by Greg Lesnewich.
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What is SpectralBlur capable of?
Because SpectralBlur is a backdoor malware, it means that instead of having to go through normal authentication procedures — where most malware would get detected — the malware gets into your system in several ways. It could be vulnerabilities in your system, a phishing attack, malicious links/downloads or other tactics.
Objective-See’s security researcher Patrick Wardle also analyzed SpectralBlur and came to similar conclusions as Lesnewich. Once it’s installed, the hacker can grant themselves remote access to your macOS. This gives the hacker the ability to access files and databases on your server. With this access, they can remotely tell it to do whatever they want, for however long they go unnoticed.
From uploading files from your computer into their server, downloading files from the hacker’s server to yours, or deleting files on your computer, they can steal your sensitive information, documents, images, etc., and use them for all sorts of purposes. They can also deploy additional malware (again, without you necessarily realizing it).
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How does SpectralBlur get onto my system and how does it work?
Once SpectralBlur gets initial access, it uses a pseudo-terminal to execute shell commands, which essentially means it can run any command on the macOS system as if the attacker were physically using the computer. It does this via a remote command-and-control (C&C) server, using RC4-encrypted socket communication.
Because this communication is encrypted, it makes it difficult for security systems to detect and analyze the malware’s network activity. This encryption helps it stay hidden by masking the data being sent and received as harmless to your system. Of course, that’s not the case; it’s potentially wreaking havoc without you knowing.
Why does North Korea want access to my computer?
Good question. This isn’t something we’ll cover in depth here, but essentially the idea is because North Korea has so many sanctions on it, hackers are motivated to execute their hacks by money and information. When they can steal funds in cryptocurrency, they can use that money to fund the regime.
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How did SpectralBlur go undetected for so long?
There are a few ways that SpectralBlur goes undetected, especially once it’s gotten access to your system:
To start, it utilizes Mac’s sleep and hibernate commands, which allow it to lay dormant within a system. This capability not only helps it avoid suspicions but also makes it difficult for users and antivirus programs to recognize it’s there. It’s also able to avoid detection by wiping your files and overwriting them with zeros. This method ensures that once it has accessed or created files, they can be completely erased without a trace. So, not only is it deleting your files, it’s getting away with it.
Last but not least, SpectralBlur can update its configuration as it goes. In layman’s terms, it’s quite agile and quick on its feet. By being able to adjust its tactics on the fly, SpectralBlur can stay hidden.
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How can I catch it?
Because SpectralBlur is so sneaky and smart, you might be wondering how Mac users recognize that SpectralBlur is on their system. After all, it evaded virus detectors and cybersecurity experts for quite some time, so the average person shouldn’t be expected to figure it out.
Ultimately, there are a few ways to know if SpectralBlur — or other backdoor malware — may be on your computer:
Unusual system behavior: If you notice your system is acting slower than usual, apps crashing frequently, your system’s settings have changed without you doing it yourself, or just the feeling that something isn’t right, there could be malware on your computer.
Increased CPU or network usage: An unexplained increase in CPU or network usage can also be a red flag. SpectralBlur might be using resources for malicious activities, which means more work on your system than usual.
Suspicious files or applications: Those of you who regularly check your system might find unfamiliar files or applications. While SpectralBlur tries to clean up after itself, certain actions or additional malware installations might leave some traces (albeit not on purpose).
Identity theft: Unfortunately, some users might only realize they’ve been a victim of SpectralBlur or a similar malware attack when their data has been breached. Hopefully, though, it won’t get to this point.
How to protect your macOS from SpectralBlur malware
SpectralBlur is an advanced piece of malware, but there are ways you can protect yourself.
1) To begin with, be sure to update your operating system regularly. Check to see whether or not you’re running the latest version of macOS. If you aren’t, do an update.
2) Install a reliable antivirus software for an additional layer of protection. The absolute best way to protect yourself from having your data breached is to have antivirus protection installed on all your devices. Having good antivirus software actively running on your devices will alert you of any malware in your system, warn you against clicking on any malicious links in phishing emails, and ultimately protect you from being hacked. Get my picks for the best 2024 antivirus protection winners for your Windows, Mac, Android & iOS devices.
3) Always be cautious when opening email attachments or downloading files, especially from untrusted sources.
4) Use identity theft protection. Identity Theft protection companies can monitor personal information like your home title, Social Security Number, phone number and email address and alert you if it is being used to open an account. They can also assist you in freezing your bank and credit card accounts to prevent further unauthorized use by criminals. Read more of my review of the best identity theft protection services here.
5) Although having malware in your system is a cause for concern for bigger things like identity theft, one of the most upsetting results of a SpectralBlur infection for most users is the fact it can delete files on your macOS. No one wants to wake up one morning to find out that their docs, photos, notes, videos and whatever else you have saved to your computer are gone.
Despite the fact you can’t prevent this 100%, you can make sure to hold on to your files. Do this by initiating regular backups of important data. In the event of a malware infection, having up-to-date backups can save all of your important data.
Kurt’s key takeaways
The whole reason that backdoor malware like SpectralBlur is so damaging is that it can exist on your system for a long time without getting noticed, deleting all your files and data in the process. Unfortunately, by the time it is detected, it may be too late. So, please do yourself a favor and protect your Mac as best as possible using the security tips we mention, like installing antivirus protection and backing up your information.
Have you — or has anyone you know — detected SpectralBlur or other backdoor malware on their macOS? Let us know by writing us at Cyberguy.com/Contact.
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Meet the new Google sign-in page
If you’ve logged in to your Google account recently, you might have seen a message that “a new look is coming soon,” and now, Google is showing off the “more modern look and feel” of its new sign-in page.
Of course, if that screenshot feels incredibly familiar, that’s because it’s mostly the same as the old one. The sign-in steps are all the same, except it has a light Material Design makeover that’s now aligned horizontally to work better across many screen types, including large and wide screens, like the ones found inside a Pixel Fold or on a Pixel Tablet.
It’s also still ready to prompt users for their passwords, passkeys, or other authentication, just like the old one — Google isn’t going fully passwordless just yet.
Overall, this change should be less controversial than other Google changes we’ve seen, like all of the products it’s given up on or the redesigned Gmail interface. But like it or not — there’s no choice about this one, as explained on the FAQ page. Both Workspace admins and users with personal Google accounts will have no control over the “gradual” rollout, which starts today, February 21st, and is scheduled for completion on March 4th, 2024. The only way you might see the old login page after that is if you’re using an older browser.
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