MACs phone home too?????
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Thread: MACs phone home too?????

  1. #1
    AOs Resident Troll
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    Nov 2003

    MACs phone home too?????

    Not just MS....MACs do it too

    actually there are ALOT of apps out there that phone home....

    ...but is it legal??,1895...06dtx1k0000599

    That is the question.

    How people treat you is their karma- how you react is yours-Wayne Dyer

  2. #2
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    Jul 2003
    United Kingdom: Bridlington

    I guess there is nothing illegal about phoning home as such? as you say, lots of apps do it.

    The real questions are "what is in the conversation" and "how secure is it"?

    It is a very gray area when you come to the question of a supplier looking after their reputation by trying to ensure that everyone is up to date, and people's perception of "privacy"?

    From the article, I cannot see a true parallel with Microsoft's DRM efforts.............they do nothing to benefit the end user, and I believe that should be the ultimate criterion?

    Just a thought

  3. #3
    The Prancing Pirate
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    Jul 2004

    Re: MACs phone home too?????

    Originally posted here by morganlefay
    ...but is it legal??
    That IS the question... But, we'll soon find out - let's see what becomes of the MS WGA lawsuit (attached).

    I'd heard stories of OS X phoning home before, but as a "security feature" in case the Mac had been stolen. Apparently, this is a different case:

    Apple's efforts to help identify and validate end users' desktop widgets may have also introduced a new privacy-related issue.

    Widgets are lightweight desktop programs running, in this case, on the Mac OS that can be tailored to provide end users with different types of information. Common applications include links to weather pages or to specific sites such as CNN or MySpace.

    Apple's Dashboard Advisory, another security feature in the recent update, was designed to ensure that the widgets users download are legitimate and authorized by the company that created them.


    "Apple released Mac OS X 10.4.7 last week, and ever since I installed it, I've been noticing Apple's own modest home phoning behavior,'' wrote one blogger on July 3.

    Another blogger wrote that there doesn't seem to be "much harm in this contact," but that "Apple should ask the user, or at least make the phoning home clear in its license."
    This is a sad day for Mac owners. I wonder if a similar lawsuit will be brought against Apple?

    [edit] But, nihil - could this not be seen as an invasion of privacy? Sure, it may keep a few users safe from any malicious widgets, if they are not security minded. However, how can we be sure that nothing else is phoning home (we might not have detected another feature)? Or what exactly is being sent in the message home?

    In any case, Apple is sending some private information (the widgets installed on the PC, correct?), possibly even for statistics, back to themselves.
    TAZForum <---- click

  4. #4
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    United Kingdom: Bridlington

    Good points! however the questions would seem to be:

    1. Why is it phoning home?
    2. What information exactly is being sent?
    3. What will it do as a result of that information?
    4. Is it personally identifyable to the user or the specific machine? (or is it a once a go contact)

    Microsoft's WGA DRM is as blatant as Sony' has no advantage to the end user whatsoever, and is purely to look after the interests of the corporation concerned.

    I do not think that "phoning home" is a crime in itself, hell, most of my anti-malware apps do it?

    Just because their are a few criminals in the barrel doesn't mean that the Apple is rotten

  5. #5
    Junior Member
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    May 2006
    Nihil. Are you saying that corporation ought not to be able to look after their interests? You may know better what information is being gathered on the Microsoft deal, but I don't see why a company should not be able to protect itselft from theft of it's products. So what if the OS "phones home" to ensure that it is not a stolen product. Why is that a problem?

  6. #6
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    Aug 2001
    You could compare it to OnStar or similar systems: imagine the uproar if GM would install the system in all of its cars, and if it would relay all of the car's statistics to GM every single day (as it is, the user needs to initiate these actions - technically, they could know where every single vehicle is, how much miles are on it, the status of all its vital functions...). More than "Is the action beneficial to the user?", the main issue should be "Is the action user-initiated?"

  7. #7
    Member tin.roof.rabbit's Avatar
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    Apr 2006
    I do not think that "phoning home" is a crime in itself, hell, most of my anti-malware apps do it?
    I think you miss read his post Chrono.

    It's not about the applications phoneing home, there is an intellegence(?) built into the application which enables your average users to protect their machines with the latest updates and that is a good thing. It also allows the manufactures to protect their products. However Nihil's questions are right on mark.

    The problem comes in to what they are collecting. We know they are collecting personal data off of the machines. As the desktop architect for a large Health Care organization I need to know if the Operating Systems I am putting into my environment are possibly sending PHI outside of my network. If this is the case, suddenly there is a HUGE HIPPA compliance issue. Think about it, if you were at one of the hospitals or home care facilities I support, wouldn't you like to know that we are doing everything in our power to ensure your medical records are secure?

    I dont know if this is the case, but it is definatly a concern.

  8. #8
    Senior Member nihil's Avatar
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    United Kingdom: Bridlington
    ChronoSec I do not have any objections to individual's or corporation's right to protection of their intellectual property.................... it is how they do it that can sometimes be questionable? Like Sony BMG and Microsoft................hell's teeth MS installed FLAWED BETA SOFTWARE on people's machines................... that is, in my opinion, inexcusable.

    More than "Is the action beneficial to the user?", the main issue should be "Is the action user-initiated?"
    Most of the (L)users that I deal with could not initiate a piss-up in a brewery. They have no idea of security or any technical aspects.................if you are going to "sell off the shelf" then I guess that is how it will be?

    Apple are no different from Microsoft, they are off the shelf vendors of their basic OS.

    Unfortunately they do not seem to have "commercial" and "home user" versions

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Jan 2003
    Hey Hey,

    Those of you that accused Apple of phoning home and compared them to Microsoft.... read this site

    The tool is beneficial... they have a list of authorised widgets (all widgets can be downloaded from and they check to make sure you don't have any malicious widgets installed... Think of it like anti spyware or antivirus... it's just downloading the latest signature file.

    IT Blog: .:Computer Defense:.
    PnCHd (Pronounced Pinched): Acronym - Point 'n Click Hacked. As in: "That website was pinched" or "The skiddie pinched my computer because I forgot to patch".

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