AT&T Says Criminals Stole Phone Records Of “Nearly All” Customers



U.S. phone giant AT&T confirmed Friday it will begin notifying millions of consumers about a fresh data breach the allowed cybercriminals to steal the phone records of “nearly all” of its customers, a company person told TechCrunch.

In a statement, AT&T said that the stolen data contains phone numbers of both cellular and landline customers, as well as AT&T records of calls and text messages – such as who contacted who by phone or text — during a six-month period between May 1, 2022 and October 31, 2022.

AT&T said some of the stolen data includes more recent records from January 2, 2023 for a smaller but unspecified number of customers.

The stolen data includes call records of customer with phone service from other cell carries that rely on AT&T’s network, the company said.

AT&T said the stolen data “does not contain the content of calls or texts,” but does include calling and texting records that an AT&T phone number interact with during the six-month period, as wells as the total count of a customer’s calls and texts, and call durations — information that does not include the time or date of calls and tests, AT&T said.

ABC News reported AT&T has announced that the company believes a hacker stole records of calls and texts from nearly all of AT&T’s wireless customers, according to a financial filing from the company.

“The data does not contain the content of calls or texts, personal information such as Social Security numbers, dates of birth, or other personally identifiable information,” AT&T said in their statement released early Friday morning. “These records identify the telephone numbers with which an AT&T or MVNO wireless number interacted during these periods, including telephone numbers of AT&T wireline customers and customers of other carriers, counts of those interactions, and aggregate call duration fora day or month.”

AT&T says it has taken “additional cybersecurity measures” in repos to this incident including closing of the point of unlawful access.

CNN reported the call and text message records from mid-to-late 2022 of tens of millions of AT&T cellphone customers and many non-AT&T customers were exposed in a massive data breach, the telecom company revealed Friday.

AT&T said the compromised data includes the telephone numbers of “nearly all” of its cellular customs and the customers of wireless providers that use it’s network between May 1, and October 31, 2022.

“We have an ongoing investigation into the AT&T breach and we’re coordinating with our law enforcement partners,” the FCC said on social media platform X. 

AT&T spokesperson Alex Byers told CNN that it was an entirely new incident that had “no connection in any way” to another incident disclosed in March. At that time, AT&T said personal information such as Social Security numbers on 73 million current and former customers was released onto the dark web.

In my opinion, it is good that AT&T scrambled to stop the hacker from gaining even more data. It is unfortunate that happened, and I expect the hacker to face some kind of legal charges eventually.


Apple Reaches Deal With EU Regulators To Open Up Mobile Payments



EU antitrust regulators on Thursday accepted commitments from Apple to allow access to its tap-and-go payments technology to rivals, bringing an end to a four-year investigation, CNBC reported.

“The commission has decided accept commitments offered by Apple. These commitments address our preliminary concerns that Apple may illegally have restricted competition when it comes to mobile wallets and iPhones,” EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said during a news conference.

The EU formally launched an investigation relating to Apple Pay in 2020. The probe looked at the terms and conditions Apple sets for integrating Apple Pay in apps and websites, as well as concerns around the tap-and-go technology and alleged refusals of accessing Apple Pay.

In 2022 the European Commission found that Apple Pay could restrict competition as it was the only option for iPhone users. Apple has since suggested several commitments to address the concerns and in January it offered to give its rivals access to contactless payment and mobile wallet technology.

“The commitments bring important changes to how Apple operates in Europe add to the benefit of competitors and customers,” Vestager said.

The iPhone maker now has until July 25 to implement the commitments, Vestager said. All developers will then be able to offer mobile wallets for iPhones with the tap-and-go technology, she explained. The commitments are set to remain in effect for 10 years.

The European Commission posted: Commission accepts commitments by Apple opening access to ‘tap and go’ technology on iPhones

…In its investigation, the Commission preliminary concluded that Apple abused its dominant position by refusing to supply the NFC input on iOS to competing mobile wallet developers, while reserving such access only to Apple Pay.

The Commission’s preliminary view is that Apple’s refusal excluded Apple Pay’s rivals from the market and led to less innovation an choice for iPhone mobile wallets users.

Such behavior may breach Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) which prohibits the abuse of a dominant position.

The Commission concluded that Apple’s final commitments would address its competition concerns over Apple’s restriction of third-party mobile wallet developers’ access to NFC payments in stores for EEA iOS users. It therefore decided to make them legally binding on Apple.

The commitments will remain in force for ten years and apply throughout the EEA. Their implementation will be monitored by a monitoring trustee appointed by Apple who will report to the Commission for the same time period.

ArsTechnica reported: In two weeks, iPhone users in the European Union will be able to use any mobile wallet they like to complete “tap and go” payments with the ease of using Apple Pay.

In a press release, the EU’s executive vice president, Margrethe Vestager, said that Apple’s commitments in the settlement address the commission’s “preliminary concerns that Apple may have illegally restricted competition for mobile wallets on iPhones.”

Arguably, providing outside developers access to NFC functionality on its devices is the biggest change. Rather than allowing developers to access this functionality through Apple’s hardware, Apple has borrowed a solution prevalent in the Android ecosystem, Vestager said, granting access through a software solution called “Host Card Emulation mode.”

In my opinion, Apple is going to have to work hard to keep its commitments to the European Commission and make changes to how it handles “tap and go”. Apple’s deadline is July 25.


OnePlus Shows Off New Products



OnePlus LogoOnePlus’ big summer reveal is still on in Milano next week (16th), but to pre-empt the Galaxy Unpacked event, they’ve dropped some teasers to show off what’s coming soon. As expected, there are four devices inbound: the Nord 4, the Pad 2, Nord Buds 3 Pro and the Watch 2R. No new product lines, simply updates of existing models, unless there’s a “one more thing” moment on the day. Here’s what can be expected on Tuesday.

One Plus Nord 4

The new Nord 4 brings the metal unibody back to the smartphone world. A new antenna design allows the phone to be made from aluminium, bringing up market feels to their mid-range device. At a smidge under 8 mm, this will be the thinnest Nord ever. That’s a good looking phone.

OnePlus Pad 2

The Pad 2 joins the original Pad and the newer Go in the tablet line up: The new Pad 2 is slightly bigger at 12.1″ though retains the 7:5 aspect ration. Although not confirmed, it’s strongly rumoured to be running the Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 and if the price bump isn’t too big, this could be a great alternative to the Samsung Tab series.

 

 

 

 

OnePlus Nord Buds 3 Pro

I’m always confused by OnePlus’ naming convention when it comes to earbuds but let’s assume that this will be excellent value-for-money earbuds with ANC. The blurb says they’re a “significant leap” from their predecessor with “a symphony of depth and richness”.

 

 

 

 

OnePlus Watch 2R

It was only February when the Watch 2 came out to considerable acclaim and now there’s the 2R. It’s not totally clear what the difference will be but pics and specs point to a revised case design aluminium rather than steel case for the smart watch. I’d suggest avoiding swimming in the sea with this one.

More next week.


Microsoft And Apple Drop OpenAI Seats Amid Antitrust Scrutiny



Microsoft has given up its seat as an observer on the board of OpenAI while Apple will not take up a similar position, amid growing scrutiny by global regulators of Big Tech’s investments in AI start-ups, Financial Times reported.

Microsoft, which has invested $13bn in the maker of the generative AI chatbot ChatGPT, said in a letter to OpenAI that its withdrawal from its board role would be “effective immediately”.

Apple had also been expected to take an observer role on OpenAI’s board as part of a deal to integrate ChatGPT into the iPhone maker’s devices, but would not do so, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Apple declined to comment.

OpenAI would instead host regular meetings with partners such as Microsoft and Apple and investors Thrive Capital and Khosla Ventures — part of “a new approach to informing and engaging key strategic partners” under Sarah Friar, the former Nextdoor boss who was hired as its first chief financial officer last month, an OpenAI spokesperson said.

The move comes as antitrust authorities in the EU and US examine the partnership between Microsoft and OpenAI as part of broader concerns about competition in the rapidly growing sector.

CNBC reported Microsoft said it would give up its observer seat on the OpenAI board amid regulatory scrutiny into generative artificial intelligence in Europe and the U.S. 

Microsoft’s deputy general counsel, Keith Tolliver, wrote a letter to OpenAI late Tuesday, saying that the position had provided insights into the board’s activities without compromising its independence.

But the letter, seen by CNBC, added that the seat was no longer needed as Microsoft had “witnessed significant progress from the newly formed board.” CNBC reached out to Microsoft and OpenAI for comment.

The European Commission previously said Microsoft could face an antitrust investigation, as it looked at the markets for virtual words and generative artificial intelligence.

The commission, which is the executive arm of EU, said in January that it is “looking into some of the agreements that have been concluded between large digital market players and generative AI developers and providers” and singled out the Microsoft-OpenAI tie-up as a particular deal that it will be studying.

9To5Mac reported: Just eight days after it was revealed that Apple Fellow Phil Schiller would join the OpenAI board as an observer, it’s now being reported that this won’t happen.

Instead, OpenAI will simply commit to regular meetings with Schiller and other partners and investors…

The change of plan appears to relate to antitrust concerns. Regulators in both the U.S. and Europe are already investigating Microsoft’s investment OpenAI, and it was possible that Apple could have opened itself up to a similar investigation by taking a seat on the board, even without voting powers.

In my opinion, OpenAI needs to rethink if they really want a board of people from larger corporations involved in what OpenAI does. Microsoft and Apple seem to not want to have a seat on the board.


Microsoft Is Hiking The Price Of Xbox Games Pass Ultimate



Microsoft is planning to hike its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate pricing again in September, alongside launching a new “standard” subscription that doesn’t include day-one access to first-party Xbox games.

The Xbox maker has started emailing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers of a price increase to $19.99 a month that starts on September 12, a $3 increase over the $16.99 a month pricing, The Verge reported.

PC Game Pass subscribers will also see a price hike in September, with the service moving from $9.99 to $11.99 per month and maintaining access to day-one titles.

The price increases come just before Microsoft plans to add Call of Duty: Black Ops 6 and other big first-party Xbox games to its Game Pass service later this year. The price increases will largely affect Ultimate subscribers who make up the vast majority of Game Pass subscribers and come just over a year after the last Game Pass price hikes raised rates by $1-$2 per month.

Alongside the Ultimate and PC Game Pass price hikes, Microsoft will also offer a new option of an Xbox Game Pass Standard subscription, without day-one titles that will be priced at $14.99 per month for new users of the service. 

The existing Xbox Game Pass for console subscription will continue for existing subscribers, but new Game Pass subscribers won’t be able to select the console option starting July 10th until the new Game Pass Standard subscription is available. Microsoft says Xbox Game Pass Standards “will be available in the coming months.”

Xbox posed: Game Pass updates announced July 2024

Starting July 10, 2024, the following updates to Xbox Game Pass will take effect:

  • Price changes will go into effect for new members for Xbox Games Pass Ultimate, Xbox Game Pass Core, and PC Game Pass.
  • Game Pass Console will no longer be available for new members.
  • Members who are already subscribed to Game Pass for Console and have automatic payment renewal enabled will be able to enjoy their membership

Also, a new Game Pass option, Xbox Game Pass Standards, will become available in the coming months. These changes will enable us to bring members more value and more great games to Game Pass.

Microsoft is making some big changes to Xbox Game Pass, including raising the price on some tiers while discounting others and adding whole new options, turning the once easy-to-understand service — and arguably the best deal in gaming — into a confusing and pricy mess, Kotaku reported.

On July 9, people began sharing emails from Xbox seemingly referencing an upcoming price increase for Game Pass Subscribers in September. Shortly after that, Windows Central confirmed that a price increase for Game Pass Ultimate was happening, along with a host of other changes.

One of the biggest is the news that Xbox is introducing a new plan that will replace the Game Pass console tier. This new plan, which will be known as Standard, will no longer include day-one game releases.

In my opinion, it is good that Xbox is allowing U.S. users, who are currently subscribed to the Xbox Game Pass for Console, to be allowed to stay on that plan with no changes. It is a good way to keep their customers from bailing out and considering a different console.


The Dark Side of AI: Trust and Information in the Digital Age #1752



A new report from Google experts warns that AI-generated content could distort reality and erode trust in digital information. The report highlights the misuse of AI for manipulation and profit, requiring minimal technical skill by bad actors. Google’s own AI Overviews feature faced backlash for inaccuracies, leading to decreased mobile searches. Despite concerns, AI Overviews did see engagement from users which questions is Google now leading the sharing or disinformation. Which raises serious questions

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Nothing’s CMF Devices Prove Cheap Doesn’t Have To Be Boring



Budget gadgets are usually stuck with drab designs and lackluster specs, a challenge Nothing’s sub-brand CMF has decided to take on. The relatively new offshoot from Nothing focuses on the relatively new offshoot from Nothing focuses on the extreme lower end of the market and has until now sold a smartwatch, wireless earbuds, and chargers, Wired reported.

Today marks its first smartphone, the CMF Phone 1, becoming available in the US through a beta program. It’s accompanied by unique accessories, plus the new Buds Pro 2 and Watch Pro 2.

According to Wired, a Nothing spokesperson said: “We do not provide battery parts to users and do not encourage users to remove the battery. We have marked warnings on the PET film reminding users not to remove the battery.”

The Verge reported CMF, Nothing’s budget-conscious but still extremely style-driven sub brand is shipping its first phone, the aptly named Phone 1. While it shares a name and an operating system with Nothing’s first own-brand phone, it comes to the table with a new modular approach to phone customizations. 

The concept is simple: It’s a phone, but the back panel comes off so you can swap it with a different one. Each replacement comes with everything you need for the job, including its own little screwdriver, screws, and a color-matched SIM tray.

There’s also a round accessory port cover in the bottom corner of the phone. Although it resembles the control dial in CMF’s neckband earbuds, it doesn’t offer any functional use aside from protecting the accessory port. At launch, CMF will offer three accessories: a lanyard, a wallet, and a kickstand, each $25 and an eye-catching orange color.

Those are all sold separately, as are the colorful replacement back panels, which are $35 each. In the box, you get a thoroughly respective budget Android phone with a 6.7-inch OLED, 50-megapixel rear camera, a MediaTek Dimensity 7300 chipset, and a generous 5,000mAh battery. It comes with a black panel installed; other options include orange, light green, and blue.

9to5 Google reported: Alongside its $199 CMF Phone 1, Nothing today launched two new wearables — the $69 CMF Watch Pro 2 and the $59 CMF Buds Pro 2.

CMF by Nothing is a design and budget-focused sub-brand of the Carl Pei-led startup. The brand debuted last year, primarily showcasing a pair of earbuds and a smartwatch. Now, we’re getting sequels to those products.

The CMF Buds Pro 2 are direct sequels to the Buds Pro. The updated product delivers upgrades Active Noise Cancellation at up to 50db as well as a better sound quality. The physical design is very similar, but with a new case that includes a physical dial. The dial is able to control the volume of the earbuds, activate a voice assistant, and control noise cancellation too.

Like their predecessors, these come at an affordable cost, launching for $59 in the US. They’ll be sold via Amazon eventually, but are shipping first from CMF’s website starting July 12.

In my opinion, the Nothing company appears to be trying to give consumers smartphones that they are in an affordable price range. It’s nice to see a company make phones that are less expensive.