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Why you should begin using Sign in with Apple

Apple has published lots of information explaining how its newly introduced Sign in With Apple service solves a problem most of us didn’t know existed and which many of us would very much like to solve.

Who watches the watchmen?

The issue:

Most social sign-in services act a little like people-tracking honey pots: You come to use a website or service and stay because the people providing the authorization use that moment to gather even more information about what you do.

What happens is that the persistent identity used by those services can be combined with other data to identify where you go, what you look for and more.

This sounds innocuous enough, but over time the individual profiles collected grow, and can be leaked, stolen or sold – and you don’t know who by or who to.

It is I think fair to say that this particular problem is not one that most people thought we had.

Apple’s Sign in With Apple service helps draw attention to it – while also providing a constructive solution.

No one knows

Apple philosophically disagrees with the idea that user data is required to make systems work.

Instead, it sees its role as being that of a trusted intermediary capable of providing a source of authorization data that can be used by both end users and service/app providers.

“Apple believes that great user experiences and great privacy can go hand-in- hand, and that users should be able to enjoy the convenience and security of one-tap sign-in without compromising their privacy,” the company explains inside its detailed Sign In With Apple white paper, published this week.

Apple says it has built is service specifically, “To limit the amount of information that users are required to share, and to provide them with the peace of mind that Apple will not track them as they interact with their apps.”

How does no tracking work?

When you use Sign in with Apple to access a website, service or app, Apple generates a unique token for the user/developer pair and also stores the email address you choose to use with that developer.

In future, you get to use the service without interruption, so long as you remain signed into iCloud on your device. You should never need to share any more data.

Developers also benefit, as Apple’s system shares a binary ‘bot/not bot’ message with them to let them know you are real, it calls this its Real User Indicator.

There are some services that need more insight – particularly financial services apps that log users out after a certain time.

Apple has developed a solution for this (called ASAuthorizationAppleIDRequest). This requires more information (such as Apple ID and IP address), but this is deleted after 30-days and is not shared with the service provider. Apple simply confirms the legitimacy of the request, acting as an agent of trust in the exchange.

“Apple does not provide any tracking tools to developers or receive data from any analytics or advertising tools that might be employed by any particular app. As a result, users can take advantage of the convenience of Sign in with Apple with the peace of mind that Apple is not tracking or profiling them,” said Apple.

How it works

Apple’s authorization system works on all the company’s platforms, can be accessed with popular web browsers, and can be used on Android and Windows (with Apple ID).

  • First you should make sure you have enabled two-factor authentication on your Apple ID (as around three quarters of users already have).
  • When you use a website or service that requires you to set up an account, you’ll be shown a Sign in with Apple button.
  • Tap the button and you’ll be shown what you are agreeing to, usually this will say something like “Create an account” and use your Apple ID email.
  • You authenticate the request using your passcode, Touch ID or Face ID.
  • If using the web you can authenticate using a sign-in sheet.
  • When using third-party browsers or a non-Apple platform, sign-in takes place using an Apple-hosted website.

You don’t need to share any personal information as Apple has that data. All you are providing is an identifier that allows you to sign in with your Apple ID in future.

Hide your email

Some services and sites will want your email address.

Apple’s system lets you provide these from your Apple ID, but also lets you edit the name used and offers the Hide My Email, which creates a unique and private relay address.

Emails sent to you via this address will reach you (and will be checked by Apple for spam), but the service provider will not have your real address. 

How to revoke permissions for apps and services

You can review all the apps and services you have authorized with the service in your Apple ID account, both on the device and online.

Here you can review what information you have shared with an app, review its privacy policy, turn off the private email address or simply stop using the Apple ID.

Sign in with Apple will be required in any app in the App Store that uses 
 third-party sign-in services to set up and authenticate user accounts.

Up next:

The bottom line is that Sign in with Apple is part of a parcel of privacy enhancing tools Apple provides.

While these tools aren’t foolproof – security is an ongoing battle – the fact they exist shows the company remains willing to use its power to disrupt the behaviors of existing data collectors while also pushing for more eductated conversations about privacy and the risks of losing it.

The strategy seems to be working.

There may be some who recall when the FBI tried to force Apple to open a back door into its devices following the San Bernardino shooting.

At that time many (including myself) argued that such systems did nothing to make people safer, as the details of any system weaknesses would eventually leak beyond law enforcement and into the hands or bad actors and rogue states. (You don’t even need to look too far to see this is what happens.)

Years later, it looks like there is a growing understanding that this is indeed the case.

Convenience is great, but not at any cost. The least we should know is what the cost and consequences of our convenience actually are.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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Microsoft gives Windows 10 1903 the ‘go’ sign for business, four months after release

Microsoft has officially told corporate customers that Windows 10 May 2019 Update – the year’s first feature upgrade – is suitable for widespread deployment.

The announcement last week came four months after the launch of the upgrade, which also goes by 1903 in Microsoft’s yymm format.

“Windows 10, version 1903 (the May 2019 Update) is designated ready for broad deployment for all users via Windows Update,” Microsoft stated on Sept. 26 in the Windows 10 release information page. “We recommend commercial customers running earlier versions of Windows 10 begin broad deployments of Windows 10, version 1903 in their organizations.”

Until this year, Microsoft declared each Windows 10 feature upgrade business ready when it promoted the refresh from the “Semi-Annual Channel (targeted),” or SAC-T, distribution line, to the “Semi-Annual Channel,” aka SAC. But after dumping SAC-T, only a discrete message was expected from Microsoft.

The business-ready milestone is intended to give enterprises confidence in the stability and reliability of a given feature upgrade. That confidence is based on the time beta testers from the Windows Insider program, early adopters and most importantly because of their numbers, users of Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro – the former forced to accept upgrades on Microsoft’s timetable – had run the code and reported bugs that Microsoft reflexively fixed.

Microsoft was originally motivated to report the transition because, first of all, the action catered to its most important customers (enterprises) and second, the assurance was something at least some of those customers relied on – because of history, including service packs – to trigger deployments. Microsoft was motivated to continue publicizing the mileposts for the same reasons, even as markers disappeared.

Just last week, Computerworld questioned Microsoft’s commitment to continue alerting commercial customers, wondering whether the Redmond, Wash. developer would simply skip the notification and instead let the appearance of the impending Windows 10 1909 – the fall’s “upgrade” – serve as the milestone for commercial customers to install 1909.

That prediction rested on the fact that 1909 is to be little more than a rerun of 1903, a cumulative update of the fixes since late May. Because the two – 1909 and 1903 – are essentially identical, testing of 1903 was testing of 1909.

Clear? Good.

Microsoft could yet follow through on the Computerworld forecast, of course, by telling enterprises they can widely deploy 1909 immediately upon its release.

But when will that be? Unknown.

In July, Microsoft said it was aiming for a September launch of 1909, a deadline that at the time seemed eminently doable because the fall release would be a reprise of 1903 bolstered by a small number of new features. Yet Microsoft has missed the September mark.

That’s not unusual in itself, as Microsoft has had no luck in meeting the release windows expressed in the four-digit label and over the past 18 months, not much more in making the month following the March and September dates of the monikers.

But to miss September when the contents of Windows 10 1909 are decidedly not equal to past fall upgrades, when from the outside a cumulative update seemed like a slam dunk to make that deadline, just adds to the ongoing questions about Microsoft’s ability to maintain a service-style cadence.

days until Win10 is business ready IDG/Gregg Keizer

Windows 10 1909 didn’t set a record for how long after release Microsoft said it was ready for broad deployment by commercial customers. But it came in just behind the debacle of 1809.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Why You Should Sign In With Google, Facebook, or Apple

Signing into a Facebook account on a phone.
Nopparat Khokthong/Shutterstock.com

Are you still creating user accounts everywhere? Maybe you should stop and sign in with your Google, Facebook, or Apple account instead. It might just be more secure—and it’s definitely more secure if you’re not currently using a password manager.

One Strong Password With No Password Reuse

If you’re creating user accounts for each service you use, there’s a good chance you’re reusing passwords or using simpler passwords that are easy to remember. Then, when a website is breached and leaks your password, an attacker could use those email and password combinations to get access to your accounts. DoorDash losing 5 million logins was just the most recent example, but such breaches happen frequently.

That’s why we recommend using a password manager: You can create strong, unique passwords for each service you use and store them in your password manager’s secure vault. But, unfortunately, most people don’t use password managers.

If you sign in with Google, Facebook, or Apple, you can create a strong, unique password and remember it. You just have to remember that one password for your main account. It’s kind of like using a password manager, but it’s a little easier for the average person to get started with.

There’s another significant advantage to signing in with Google, Facebook, or Apple, too: Two-factory security.

Physical Security Keys and Other Two-Factor Tricks

Google Titan security keys
Cameron Summerson

You have many more options for locking down your Google, Facebook, and Apple accounts. For example, you can require a YubiKey or a Google Titan Security Key when signing into your Google or Facebook account. Other options like a code-generator app, app-based authentication, and SMS-based authentication are also available.

If you sign into other services with a Google or Facebook account, your two-factor authentication method is effectively securing that other account, too. Other services don’t generally have such a wide variety of two-factor options and support for hardware security keys—in fact, they may not offer two-factor authentication options at all.

Apple doesn’t offer support for physical security keys like this. But, when you use Sign in With Apple and sign in on another device, you’ll be prompted to enter a verification code sent to your trusted Apple device or phone number. Your Apple account and its two-factor authentication becomes the security key to your other accounts.

What About Privacy?

You might be concerned about this because of privacy. Do you really want Facebook or Google knowing about every other site you have an account with? And do you really want every app you’re using seeing all your Facebook information?

Well, Facebook and Google perform some tracking anyway, and there’s a good chance they have an idea of what apps and services you use. And don’t worry: Services you’re signing into can’t see all the information in your Facebook or Google accounts. The service uses OAuth and gets only the information you choose to give it about your account.

Sure, if you sign in via Facebook or Google, the app gets access to your email address—but you’d have to provide that email address if you were signing up for a separate account with that service.

If you’re really concerned about privacy, you should take a look at Sign in With Apple. Apple’s been talking a lot about privacy, but it’s not just talk. Sign in With Apple lets you hide your email address—it will automatically generate a unique, random email address that forwards to your regular email address. Services actually get less information about you than if you created a separate account with your regular email address. It’d be nice to see Google or Facebook offer something like this, too.

It’s Like a More User-Friendly Password Manager

Creating an account using Sign In With Apple.
Apple

Even if you don’t want to use a Google, Facebook, or Apple account to sign in everywhere, we hope you’ll take the most important advice and use a password manager. Your password manager can generate and store strong, unique passwords for all your online accounts. Don’t reuse passwords or you’re putting yourself at risk.

For people who don’t want to use a password manager—well, that’s why SIgn in With Google, Facebook, and Apple are so convenient. If you know someone that absolutely won’t use a password manager, it’s a lot better to have them signing in with a secure main Google, Facebook, or Apple account rather than reusing the same passwords on different websites.

Signing in with other types of accounts would also be fine, but other such services are less widespread. For example, some services like your sign in with a Twitter account, but many more services support Facebook and Google accounts.

RELATED: Why You Should Use a Password Manager, and How to Get Started





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‘Sign In with Apple’ isn’t for business – yet

Apple’s new online authorization feature in iOS 13 – Sign in with Apple – allows iPhone, iPad and Mac users to securely sign into apps and websites. But it’s not likely a competitor for business mobile device management (MDM) platforms that also protect user log-ins.

While Sign In with Apple is not designed for enterprise use, iOS 13 does have a new Single Sign-on Extension enterprise developers can access, and it can integrate with existing IDs businesses may already be using.

The Single Sign-on Extension is a set of APIs for mobile management vendors and app developers that lets users log in to apps and websites using the security of Face ID and Touch ID.

Overall, Apple at this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) unveiled the broadest set of solutions for enterprises in years, including user-level enrollment, which makes mobile application management-only (MAM) models on iOS more attractive, according to Nick McQuire, vice president of Enterprise Research at CCS Insight.

For example, on its iOS 13 preview page, Apple touted data separation for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) programs that maintains user privacy while also keeping corporate data protected.

Apple’s new mobile platform can also create and manage Apple IDs used by employees, giving them secure access to services like iCloud Drive and iCloud Notes.

As for Sign In with Apple, it works natively on iOS and macOS and every account using it is automatically protected with two-factor authentication. On Apple devices, users are persistently signed in and can re-authenticate anytime with Face ID or Touch ID, according to Apple.

The feature will likely be an enabler for MDM platforms, not a competitor. If history is any indicator, the authorization service will be made available to, and leveraged by, mobile management software vendors as a smoother mechanism for authorization into the Apple ecosystem, “which will then be coupled with their federated authentication systems to be used to sign users into the enterprise ecosystem, services and applications,” McQuire said.

While not marketed as a business tool, Sign in with Apple will have “huge enterprise appeal” as a service made available to Apple’s partners, especially mobile management vendors, McQuire said.

The big question as Sign In with Apple rolls out – it will be available as a beta this summer – is how can it be leveraged by an ecosystem that’s key to the company’s  enterprise strategy.

“Overall, I see the MDM/management vendors will likely gravitate to it quickly along with the wide range of other enterprise friendly services that were launched,” McQuire said. “Although details are light at this stage, I can also see the service being attractive to the [mobile] vendors in key use cases such as employee onboarding and helping to streamline user enrolment.”



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WWDC: What you need to know about Sign In with Apple

There’s lots of interest in Apple’s new Sign In with Apple system, a highly secure, private way to sign in to apps and websites. Here’s what you need to know:

What is Sign In with Apple?

Apple has noticed that sign-in systems for services, apps, and websites rely on services that use your action of signing in to place cookies on your computer and track what you do.

Apple’s focus on privacy means it is attempting to restrict such practices, which is why it has developed the new system as a more private way to sign into these apps and services.

The idea is that Apple doesn’t track you and makes the entire process as private as possible.

Is Sign In with Apple complicated?

Not from what I have seen. Sign In with Apple works with your Apple ID. This means that instead of filling out forms, verifying email addresses, and choosing (and struggling to remember) new passwords, you can just tap the Sign In with Apple button to get started straight away. This makes it as easy to use as most other authentication systems, and — Apple claims — much more private.

How does Apple explain the system’s privacy?

The system relies on your Apple ID. That means when you choose to sign into something, you can use your Apple ID to authenticate and Apple will then provide a unique random ID to access the service. In the future, you continue to log in as seamlessly as any other authentication service, but Apple continues to protect your privacy.

What if Sign In with Apple demands my email address?

If developers, sites, or services demand you share your email address, you can provide it if you wish, though Sign In with Apple can also generate a random email address for that service. This limits what the service learns about you, but it still allows those offering the service to contact you, while not actually gathering your real email address.

Will I need to enter my Apple ID each time I use the service?

That doesn’t seem to be the case. Apple’s system works merrily with Face ID or Touch ID. It also has two-factor authentication built in.

Yeah, but Apple knows what I’m doing

It is not true that Apple knows what you are doing. In keeping with its privacy models elsewhere across its platforms, the company works to collect as little information about you as it can. Apple promises that it, “Does not use Sign In with Apple to profile users or their activity in apps.”

What about fraud protection?

There are hackers, fraudsters, and automated fake account creation tools all over the modern internet. This is bad news in lots of ways — take a look at the millions of fake users deleted by Twitter in recent months and the impact on follower counts for some high-profile users for an idea of how these fakes sully social media discours.

Apple says Sign In with Apple uses on-device machine learning and “other information” to prevent fake or fraudulent account creation, or, as Apple puts it, “It uses on-device machine learning and other information to provide a new privacy-friendly signal that helps you determine if a new user is a real person or an account you might want to take another look at.”

Does Sign In with Apple support other platforms?

Sign In with Apple is designed to work on all Apple’s platforms, but that’s not going to be much use on other platforms, is it? This may be correct at this stage of deployment, but there are strong signals suggesting Apple has a plan for that.

The feature works natively on all Apple’s platforms, and it works in any browser. That’s important, as that cross-platform browser support means you can use it on websites and services and in versions of your app working on other platforms. You can learn more about how to deploy the system on websites and other platforms using HTML and JavaScript here.

What’s next for Sign In with Apple?

I’ve spoken with non-Apple developers involved in the enterprise space at and around WWDC. Jamf, for example, says because they already support authentication services from Google and Microsoft, they are interested to see if they can help enterprises use Apple’s new and ultra-private sign-in system across their own internal applications and services, and in what other ways it could help improve rapid deployment and on-boarding of employees, services, and apps.

Given Sign In with Apple is accessible to other platforms and websites with little more than a few lines of code, it seems probable many enterprise users may choose to deploy the service internally and externally in some scenarios.

But what about the data broking industry?

Apple doesn’t seem to care too much about the data broking industry. The company has gone on record to warn against the chilling impact of privatized web surveillance and privacy erosion on democracy, freedom, and public discourse. While there is a need in many industries for access to such data, Apple’s decisions mean most of us can look forward to making more informed consent before granting access to such data to third parties. Apple CEO Tim Cook puts it this way: “If there is no privacy, freedom plummets,” he told CBS.

When will Sign-In with Apple be available?

Sign In with Apple will be available for beta testing this summer. Apple says it will be required as an option for users in apps that support third-party sign-in “when it is commercially available later this year.” Apple won’t force you to use the system, but it clearly hopes that when given the choice of using its private system or less private options, most of us will choose to use Sign-In with Apple.

I think we will.

Another privacy protecting enhancement Apple delivered at WWDC is a new tool that lets users allow an app to track their location only once, which may help make people aware of how their location data can be exfiltrated and used.

Please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.





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You Can Now Sign Up to Try Minecraft Earth

Microsoft has announced Minecraft Earth, a new Minecraft mobile game. Minecraft Earth uses augmented reality to bring Minecraft to the real world. The game isn’t being released until later this year, but you can sign up now for the beta.

What Is Minecraft Earth?

Minecraft Earth is a new free-to-play augmented reality mobile game. It’s due to be released on Android and iOS before the end of 2019, with the final release date yet to be confirmed. However, there will be a limited beta this summer.

If you’re not familiar with augmented reality


Augmented vs. Virtual Reality: What’s the Difference?




Augmented vs. Virtual Reality: What’s the Difference?

Augmented reality. Virtual reality. Mixed reality. What are all these “realities” and how are they going to impact you over the next few years? Here’s everything you need to know.
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, it’s what powered Pokemon GO. Augmented reality essentially places a virtual world on top of the real world, so that when you look through your phone’s camera you’ll see things that aren’t actually there.

In the case of Minecraft Earth, that means you’ll see the elements you’re familiar with from the existing game in the world around. There’ll be pixelated grass and blocky trees, all designed to blend in with the actual environment you’re inhabiting.

You’ll find Tappables, which you can tap for resources. You’ll find Adventures, which are mini-games which use your phone as a window into this virtual Minecraft world. There will also be mobs of animals such as pigs and chickens, just like in the main game.

Potentially the biggest and best part of Minecraft Earth are the Build Plates. You throw one down to create a plot of land, and you can then build whatever you want on it. And when it’s ready you can blow it up to full scale and literally walk around it.

How Can I Play Minecraft Earth?

Minecraft Earth is going to be released on Android and iOS later this year. However, if you’re keen to get involved before anyone else you can sign up now for the limited beta coming this summer. Just sign up at Minecraft.net/earth for a chance to participate.

Even at this early stage, with details thin on the ground, it’s clear that Minecraft Earth is more ambitious than previous augmented reality efforts such as Pokemon GO. And if Microsoft can pull this off Minecraft Earth could be a game everyone wants to play.

Minecraft Earth represents Microsoft looking to the future of the franchise. However, you can now play Minecraft Classic for free in your browser


You Can Now Play Minecraft for Free in Your Browser




You Can Now Play Minecraft for Free in Your Browser

Minecraft is 10 years old, and to celebrate, Mojang is letting you play Minecraft Classic for free in your web browser.
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, giving you the chance to look back at the early days of Minecraft before it became the phenomenon it is today.

Explore more about: Augmented Reality, Microsoft, Minecraft, Mobile Gaming, Pokemon GO.



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