Police Use iPhone Fingerprint Scanner to Access Suspect's Mobile Data

By eWEEK Staff  |  Posted 2016-05-05 Print this article Print

DAILY VIDEO: A biometric ID request opens legal questions in a California court case; Apple Music is getting an overhaul to attract more customers; Yoky Matsuoka is joining the Apple Health team; and there's more.

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Read more about the stories in today's news:


Today's topics include a California court case involving police gaining access to a suspect's personal data through the iPhone's fingerprint scanner, Apple's announcement that is will overhaul Apple Music to better meet customers' expectations, reports that neuroroboticist Yoky Matsuoka will join Apple's health care team and new research from SophosLabs that suggests hackers are exploiting old, unpatched software flaws.

A 29-year-old California woman with multiple criminal convictions recently had her fingerprint taken by the FBI so that the agency could access the data on her iPhone as part of an investigation.

Such incidents are relatively rare today, but they could become more prevalent in the future as law enforcement authorities look to use smartphone data to solve criminal cases and gather information on suspects.

In the California case, police seized the iPhone of Paytsar Bkhchadzhyan in a raid. The FBI secured a court order to compel the woman to allow them to take her fingerprint just after she pleaded no contest to a felony count of identity theft. Soon after, an FBI agent took her fingerprint, giving the agency access to the data on her iPhone.

When Apple Music launched in June 2015, the company thought it had a winning offering that would rise to the top of a growing streaming music market and convince millions of users to sign up for its $9.99-a-month service.

But while more than 10 million users did sign up in the first six months, Apple Music still hasn't become the category-leading service the company intended.

With that in mind, Apple is apparently planning to redesign and update Apple Music with changes that are expected to be unveiled at the company's Worldwide Developers Conference scheduled for June 13-17 in San Francisco.

The changes are in response to "tepid reviews" and the departures of several executives who had joined the company to reinvigorate Apple's music offerings, the story reported.

Apple has hired celebrated neuroroboticist Yoky Matsuoka to work on health-focused projects, according to a May 3 report from Fortune.

According to the report, she'll work directly with Apple Chief Operating Officer Jeff Williams, who oversees Apple's health care initiatives.

Among her many accomplishments, Matsuoka is known for being a force behind the success of Nest—a company she joined after co-founding the Google X research labs in 2009.

In 2007, at the age of 36, Matsuoka was the recipient of a MacArthur "genius" award for her work in neurorobotics and specifically how robotics can coordinate with the central nervous system and musculoskeletal action to enhance the mobility of people with disabilities.

New research published May 3 by SophosLabs reveals that even while attackers continue to design custom-tailored cyber-exploits, the inconvenient truth is that the most popular vulnerabilities are issues that were patched years ago.

Instead of just sending random emails, SophosLabs has found an increasing use of what it refers to as "Designer" cyber-threats. Going a step further, SophosLabs is seeing increased use of targeted attacks that are specifically localized for the victims.

That is, attackers are using specific types of malware depending on where victims are located. The idea of a targeted attack—spear phishing emails, in particular—is not a new one, though it has apparently undergone an evolution in recent months.


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