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I switched from iPhone XR to iPhone 12 and things got weird

Apple admitted last week that sales of the iPhone 12 exceeded the company’s expectations. But what about the customer’s expectations? After six weeks with the new iPhone, I have some thoughts.

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The blue iPhone 12. A peculiar object of affection.

They call it an upgrade, don’t they?

When you’re flying, the word automatically fills you with joy because you’re getting something better for free.

When you’re buying a phone, on the other hand, the price of an upgrade can be steep and the concomitant joy graph may not enjoy such a sharp upward gradient.

Still, Apple CFO Luca Maestri told an analyst call last week that demand for the 12 “exceeded our own internal expectations at the beginning of the quarter.”

That may well be, but when I upgraded from iPhone XR to iPhone 12 six weeks ago, I didn’t have steep internal expectations.

Apple’s phones haven’t incited wonder over the last few years. When the XR and XS emerged, I didn’t see the point of paying exalted dollars for the merely pleasant iPhone XS.

A Relationship of Convenience Has To End.

I chose an iPhone XR to replace my iPhone 6, which should tell you that I don’t need the allegedly instant gratification of every new iPhone.

At the time I bought the XR, it was my first time succumbing to Face ID. Going from the iPhone 6 meant accepting greater size and weight. Somehow, I still believed the XR felt like an iPhone. I still wondered whether I’d keep it for as long as I’d had the iPhone 6.

I told myself I loved the XR’s battery life. I told myself I adored how sturdy and reliable it was.

I often tell myself lies, especially in relationships.

Within a year, I became conscious that this was a relationship of convenience.

The XR began to weigh on me. Apple helpfully tells me I use my phone an average of two and a half hours a day. Holding it in a single hand became (first-world) tiring. Occasionally, I’d be stretching my thumb to click on an app and the rest of my hand would begin to kvetch. This was an irritating imbalance.

Yes, the battery life was an enormous improvement on previous iPhones. But as the XR began to age, I began to look upon it with a tinge of pity. And not such affectionate pity, either.

It had never become lovable. It had become like the portable vacuum cleaner you keep by your sofa to swiftly hoover up your carelessly dropped crumbs. Useful, but never remotely adorable.

Parting with it, then, wasn’t a sweet sorrow. It was more like a Hollywood actor divorcing a famous star at the end of their carefully worded marriage contract.

We shook hands. We said thank you, it’s time, and goodbye.

Six Weeks With iPhone 12. This Is Getting Creepy.

I wasn’t at all convinced that iPhone 12 would offer a vast difference.

Indeed, I went to an Apple store to examine it for myself before succumbing to an entirely surprising sales experience.

The saleswoman didn’t oversell the 12. Instead, she told me: “That’s probably the most similar to what you’ve got. The difference between the 12 and the 12 Pro is the telephoto lens. So if you’re some sort of videographer, get the Pro.”

I’m not (yet) a spy, so I chose the 12.

I’ll admit I found the blue color marginally alluring. At the time I bought the phone, I muttered: “The 12 felt lighter and slightly slimmer than my XR, oddly but not unpleasantly retro and, hey, now I have two cameras, something I’ve never consciously wanted at all.”

You see? No absurd enthusiasm there. Just a sense that at least this thing might be a touch more personable to the hand.

The last six weeks, however, have tended toward the creepy. I find myself enjoying the phone’s square edges. I find myself thinking back to the rounder edges of the iPhone XR and concluding they looked cheap.

I also find myself believing that the screen has a noticeably sharper resolution and a much better microphone. It clearly takes appreciably better pictures too. I actually like holding this phone. Someone seems to have spent a little more time making its ergonomics fit my handonomics.

What’s most disturbing to me is that I’m beginning to feel slight affection for this object. A phone, no less.

I pick it up with a tinge of reverence, rather than a grab of impatience. I even look at it occasionally and think: “Oh, you really do look nice.” (Thank you, Sauvignon Blanc.)

Yes, I may have Lockdown Delusional Syndrome. This could be a sad, bizarre harking back to the iPhone 5 — where the 12 drew much of its inspiration — and how much more exciting life was in those days.

No, I’m not in love. It may just be a silly phase I’m going through. I still wonder, though, whether this particular iPhone, retro though it may be, could have a lasting impact in the twisted annals of design.

This phone cost me less than the XR, yet it feels so much classier.

Perhaps that’s why Apple claims it saw the largest number of people upgrading in a single quarter.

Most of them just did it for the infinitely improved cameras, right?

When you’re buying a phone, on the other hand, the price of an upgrade can be steep and the concomitant joy graph may not enjoy such a sharp upward gradient.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/i-switched-from-iphone-xr-to-iphone-12-and-things-got-weird/

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ZDNET

Apple releases emergency update for older iPhones and iPads

If you’re running iOS 12, this is an update for you.

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Apple is getting pretty committed to the idea of pushing out security updates to older iPhones and iPads. Not only will the company continue to support iOS 14 come the release of iOS 15, we are also seeing a trickle of patches for older versions of iOS.

If you have an iPhone or iPad that’s still running iOS 12 — because that was the end of the line for your device — then Apple has released an emergency update that you need to download and install as soon as possible.

Why?

Because of the three security fixes contained in this update, two “may have been actively exploited.” In other words, the bad guys might already be using the vulnerabilities to compromise smartphones and tablets.

Must read: Apple will finally give iPhone and iPad users an important choice to make

iOS 12.5,4 is available for the following devices:

  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPad Air
  • iPad mini 2
  • iPad mini 3
  • iPod touch (6th generation)

To check what version your device is running, tap on Settings > General, then on Software Update. Here you will see what version your iPhone of iPad is running along with any updates.

Note that if you have stayed on iOS 12 but the device is compatible with later versions, then this update will not be available to you. Your path is to upgrade to the latest release of iOS 14 or iPadOS 14.

There have been several high-profile security issuers plaguing iPhone and iPads over the past few months, and while for some there’s a hesitancy to install updates, it is the first and best line of defense against attack.

And iOS 12 and later will do it for you. Tap on Settings > General > Software Update > Customize Automatic Updates and then turn on Install iOS Updates.

Because of the three security fixes contained in this update, two “may have been actively exploited.” In other words, the bad guys might already be using the vulnerabilities to compromise smartphones and tablets.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/apple-releases-emergency-update-for-older-iphones-and-ipads/

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SSD market to reach $51.5 billion in revenue by 2025: IDC

The IDC is predicting that SSD unit shipments will increase with a CAGR of 7.8% in coming years.

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The International Data Corporation is expecting an increase in worldwide solid state drive (SSD) revenue and shipments over the next four years, according to a newly published forecast of the market.

The IDC said SSD unit shipments are expected to grow with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.8% and revenues are slated to increase at a CAGR of 9.2% from now until 2025. The market will reach $51.5 billion in revenue by 2025, according to IDC.

IDC also predicted that SSD capacity shipments worldwide will expand further at a 2020–2025 CAGR of 33.0%.

Jeff Janukowicz, research vice president at IDC, explained that the worldwide demand for SSDs has increased because the pandemic has accelerated the need for transformation.

The steep increases are driven by growing demands for storage that expanded throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as millions increasingly worked and schooled from home, using their own devices in many instances.

Demand for PCs has skyrocketed and the IDC said higher SSD demand is also reflected in the enterprise market, where companies are making investments in both cloud and traditional IT.

“IDC believes that most of the long-term trends remain intact, enabling broader SSD adoption over the forecast period, and worldwide SSD units and capacity shipped are higher than the prior forecast thanks to increasing demand from client devices, enterprise storage customers, and cloud service providers,” Janukowicz said.

The IDC added that there have been some key developments in the SSD market globally, including:

  • The pricing of SSDs is still volatile and elevated because of the increased demand.

  • Technological advancements, like NAND flash, will emerge in the next few years and “will continue to enable more cost-effective solutions helping to further increase demand for SSDs.”

  • Client SSDs are in higher demand because of permanent moves toward remote work and remote schooling.

  • Demand for SSDs among cloud and traditional IT market segments has continued to hold strong.

  • IDC believes lower prices will help “drive demand elasticity and system optimization around flash.”

The report also predicts similar growth in the HDD industry because of how COVID-19 has affected the markets for enterprise storage systems, PCs, personal and entry-level storage devices, video surveillance systems, and consumer electronics products. Worldwide HDD industry petabyte shipments are slated to see a compound annual growth rate of 18.5% through 2025, according to IDC.

Edward Burns, research director for IDC, noted that the client HDD market has had a long-term secular decline due to rising SSD attach rates. But the COVID-19 pandemic has over the near term increased the demand for certain types of HDDs, particularly mobile HDDs as well as capacity-optimized HDDs, Burns added.

Jeff Janukowicz, research vice president at IDC, explained that the worldwide demand for SSDs has increased because the pandemic has accelerated the need for transformation.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/ssd-market-to-reach-51-5-billion-in-revenue-by-2025-idc/

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Avaddon ransomware group closes shop, sends all 2,934 decryption keys to BleepingComputer

Bleeping Computer worked with Emisoft to create a free decryptor that any Avaddon victim can use.

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Avaddon ransomware group, one of the most prolific ransomware groups in 2021, has announced that they are shutting the operation down and giving thousands of victims a decryption tool for free.

BleepingComputer’s Lawrence Abrams said he was sent an anonymous email with a password and link to a ZIP file named, “Decryption Keys Ransomware Avaddon.”

The file had decryption keys for 2,934 victims of the Avaddon ransomware. The startling figure is another example of how many organizations never disclose attacks, as some reports have previously attributed just 88 attacks to Avaddon.

Abrams worked with Emsisoft chief technology officer Fabian Wosar and Coveware’s Michael Gillespie to check the files and verify the decryption keys. Emsisoft created a free tool that Avaddon victims can use to decrypt files.

Ransomware gangs — like those behind Crysis, AES-NI, Shade, FilesLocker, Ziggy — have at times released decryption keys and shut down for a variety of reasons. A free Avaddon decryption tool was released by a student in Spain in February but the gang quickly updated their code to make it foolproof again.

“This isn’t new and isn’t without precedence. Several ransomware threat actors have released the key database or master keys when they decide to shut down their operations,” Wosar told ZDNet.

“Ultimately, the key database we obtained suggests that they had at least 2,934 victims. Given the average Avaddon ransom at about $600,000 and average payment rates for ransomware, you can probably come up with a decent estimate of how much Avaddon generated.”

Wosar added that the people behind Avaddon had probably made enough money doing ransomware that they had no reason to continue.

According to Wosar, ransom negotiators have been noticing an urgency when dealing with Avaddon operators in recent weeks. Negotiators with the gang are caving “instantly to even the most meager counter offers during the past couple of days.”

“So this would suggest that this has been a planned shutdown and winding down of operations and didn’t surprise the people involved,” Wosar explained.

Data from RecordedFuture has shown that Avaddon accounted for nearly 24% of all ransomware incidents since the attack on Colonial Pipeline in May. An eSentire report on ransomware said Avaddon was first seen in February 2019 and operated as a ransomware-as-a-service model, with the developers giving affiliates a negotiable 65% of all ransoms.

“The Avaddon threat actors are also said to offer their victims 24/7 support and resources on purchasing Bitcoin, testing files for decryption, and other challenges that may hinder victims from paying the ransom,” the report said.

“What’s interesting about this ransomware group is the design of its Dark Web blog site. They not only claim to provide full dumps of their victims’ documents, but they also feature a Countdown Clock, showing how much time each victim has left to pay. And to further twist their victims’ arms, they threaten to DDoS their website if they don’t agree to pay immediately.”

img-8885-1.jpg DomainTools

The group has a lengthy list of prominent victims that include Henry Oil & Gas, European insurance giant AXA, computer hardware company EVGA, software company Vistex, insurance broker Letton Percival, the Indonesian government’s airport company PT Angkasa Pura I, Acer Finance and dozens of healthcare organizations like Bridgeway Senior Healthcare in New Jersey, Capital Medical Center in Olympia, Washington and others.

The gang made a note of publishing the data stolen during ransomware attacks on its dark web site, DomainTools researcher Chad Anderson told ZDNet last month.

Both the FBI and the Australian Cyber Security Centre released notices last month warning healthcare institutions about the threat of Avaddon ransomware.

screen-shot-2021-06-11-at-10-11-24-pm.png Australian Cyber Security Centre

The notice said “Avaddon threat actors demand ransom payment via Bitcoin (BTC), with an average demand of BTC 0.73 (approximately USD $40,000) with the lure of a decryption tool offered (‘Avaddon General Decryptor’) if payment is made.”

The group was also implicated in multiple attacks on manufacturing companies across South America and Europe, according to the Australian Cyber Security Centre.

Cybersecurity firm Flashpoint said that alongside REvil, LockBit, and Conti, Avaddon was one of the most prolific ransomware groups currently active.

Digital Shadows’ Photon Research Team told ZDNet in May that a forum representative for the Avaddon ransomware took to the Exploit forum to announce new rules for affiliates that included bans on targeting “the public, education, healthcare, and charity sectors.”

The group also banned affiliates from attacking Russia or any other CIS countries. US President Joe Biden is expected to press Russian President Vladimir Putin on ransomware attacks at a summit in Geneva on June 16.

“This isn’t new and isn’t without precedence. Several ransomware threat actors have released the key database or master keys when they decide to shut down their operations,” Wosar told ZDNet.

Source: https://www.zdnet.com/article/avaddon-ransomware-group-closes-shop-sends-all-2934-decryption-keys-to-bleepingcomputer/

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