New Apple Store in Atlanta scheduled to open this weekend, new Toledo store under construction

via Ed Hunter

Toledo, OH Apple Store location (via Ed Hunter)

Apple has announced that the grand opening for its new Cumberland Mall store in Atlanta, Georgia will take place this Saturday, September 6th at 10 AM. The store will be the sixth Apple retail location in the state.

It looks like construction is ready to get underway at the Franklin Park Mall location in Toledo as well, which will become the eighth store in Ohio. The iconic black barricades that usually precede the appearance of an Apple Store have been put up in front of the upcoming location (as seen in the photo above from Ed Hunter on Twitter).

Apple’s new VP of retail Angela Ahrendts has been pushing the corporation’s retail arm to expand to new locations worldwide and has said that she wants to create am improved Apple Store experience for customers.


Filed under: AAPL Company Tagged: Apple Retail, Atlanta, Georgia, Ohio, toledo

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Hackers Using Law Enforcement Tools to Access iCloud Backups Unprotected by Two-Factor Authentication

icloud_icon_blueEarlier today, Apple issued a press release stating that an iCloud/Find My iPhone breach had not been responsible for the leak of several private celebrity photos over the weekend, instead pointing towards a "very targeted attack on user names, passwords, and security questions" hackers used to gain access to celebrity accounts.

The company did not divulge specific details on how hackers accessed the iCloud accounts, leading Wired writer Andy Greenberg to investigate the methods that hackers might possibly have used to acquire the stolen media.

Greenberg visited Anon-IB, a popular anonymous image board where some of the celebrity photos first originated, and discovered that hackers openly discuss exploiting software designed for law enforcement and government officials. Called ElcomSoft Phone Password Breaker (EPPB), the software in question lets hackers enter a stolen username and password to obtain a victim's full iPhone/iPad backup.
"Use the script to hack her passwd...use eppb to download the backup," wrote one anonymous user on Anon-IB explaining the process to a less-experienced hacker. "Post your wins here ;-)"
Acquiring just a user name and password allows hackers access to content on iCloud.com, but with the accompaniment of the ElcomSoft software, a complete backup can reportedly be downloaded into easy-to-access folders filled with the device's contents.

According to security researcher Jonathan Zdziarski, who spoke to Wired, metadata from some of the leaked photos is in line with the use of the ElcomSoft software and possibly the iBrute software, which exploited a vulnerability in Find My iPhone to allow hackers unlimited attempts to guess a password. Apple has, however, patched the exploit, and has suggested iBrute was not a factor in the attacks.

As noted by TechCrunch, using ElcomSoft's software to download an iPhone's backup successfully circumvents two-factor verification as the two-factor authentication system does not cover iCloud backups or Photo Stream. Apple's press release pointed towards two-factor authentication as a way to prevent similar hacking attempts, but it appears enabling two-factor authentication would not stop iCloud backup hacks conducted with the Phone Password Breaker.

twostepverification
The ElcomSoft software does not require any credentials to purchase and while it costs $399 to purchase, it is also available on bittorrent sites. This gap in security has been known for quite some time, with ElcomSoft's own CEO pointing towards the lack of two-factor authentication for iCloud backups back in May of 2013.

Apple has explored expanding two-factor authentication to some iCloud services, but an official expansion of the security feature has not yet been introduced.


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McDonald’s to begin rolling out NFC-enabled mobile payments on September 15th

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at 7.39.01 PM

An internal memo sent to McDonald’s franchises this week indicates that the fast food chain is preparing to roll out a mobile payment platform on September 15th. According to the notice, employees are required to be trained on the systems by Monday the 15th and the hardware, which has already started arriving at some locations, must be installed and tested before that date.

It doesn’t seem likely that this is Apple’s upcoming iPhone-exclusive payment system, which the the Cupertino tech firm is already partnering with retailers to roll out, but will instead be a cross-platform NFC option using standard VeriFone hardware that already exists in many locations. That’s not to say the iPhone 6 won’t be able to take advantage of this, as the unannounced device is said to support NFC using chips made by XNP.

Earlier this year, Business Insider reported that McDonald’s was testing an upcoming mobile application that would allow customers to place orders from anywhere, then drop in at the restaurant to pick up the food, likely with a component that would allow them to pay using their phone. It’s likely that this rollout indicates this program will be launching nationally soon.


Filed under: Tech Industry Tagged: McDonald's, mobile payments

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Apple Discussing Mobile Payments Partnership With Nordstrom

Nordstrom may be one of Apple's first merchant partners when Apple launches its upcoming mobile payment initiative, reports Bank Innovation. Apple is said to be in talks with Nordstrom about its payments service, suggesting Nordstrom could be one of the first retailers to support payments via iPhone.
The "talks" Nordstrom and Apple have been engaged are related to payments -- but the extent of those talks is unclear. Apple was looking for a clothing brand with a large physical reach, our source said, but also with an established and high-end brand. With a strong brick-and-mortar presence, but with a focus on digital innovation as well, our source said Nordstrom was a "great" pick for Apple.
Nordstrom is a logical partner for Apple, as its retail stores already use Apple's iPhones and iPads as point-of-sale systems. According to Nordstrom employees, Apple's mobile point-of-sale systems are purchased directly from Apple and were updated to work with 'the most recent iPhones" just a few weeks ago. Bank Innovation suggests that Nordstrom's current point-of-sale systems, which are said to be the same as Apple's own in-store EasyPay systems, may possibly be compatible with Apple's upcoming mobile payment service.

Earlier this year, a report suggested Apple was speaking with several high-profile retail store chains about a mobile payment service, in order to retailer gauge interest and explore possibilities for a unified payment service, and Nordstrom may have been included in these talks.

easypay_concept
EasyPay mobile payments concept by Ricardo Del Toro

In addition to partnering with retailers, Apple is also said to have signed deals with American Express, MasterCard, and Visa for its mobile payments initiative, which will likely leverage technologies like NFC, Bluetooth, and iBeacons, in addition to Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint-sensing security technology.

According to reports, Apple's payments service will allow iPhone owners to use their devices to make payments both online and in retail stores. Apple is expected to announce its mobile payments initiative during its September 9 media event.


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