Apple has been in the limelight for some time now and has gained a significant market share of desktop and mobile users. Unlike the world of Windows, Apple’s reports of viruses and malware has been few and far in between. PC fans argue that there’s not enough user base for malicious coders to target Apple just yet. But ever since the iMac, the iPhone and the iPad, it’s no longer the case. The long time lack of users had been a factor plus, Apple’s operating systems are arguably more secure than Windows. Mac OS X after all is a flavor of Unix and iOS is a protected walled garden of curated apps. But all that may change now that Apple’s products have become a big part of our lives.
Some Chinese hackers managed to break into the wall of Apple’s App Store and infected several apps with malware. The malware, known as XCode Ghost found its way into the App Store by piggy-backing into several submitted apps compiled using a fake copy of the Apple Xcode development software. At least 39 apps have been found to be affected and Apple has since pulled out these apps from the app store. But several thousand more apps may actually be infected. What does this mean for Apple? It means that the company needs to start making measures in further securing their app store and their software model in general. Though not exactly strong within the enterprise, many apps are used by consumers to make business transactions. Nowadays, most viruses, Trojans and malware are no longer designed as pranks. They are after the bottom line. These malware function as robots sending important user information such as credit card information and passwords to their creators or act as backdoors so the creators can get the information themselves. Now that Apple launched Apple Pay, malware authors are salivating and seeking to find other ways into the walled garden.
It’s been a long time coming for Apple. Malware authors may have been trying to get into Apple’s skin for a long time now and the ever-crafty Chinese hackers managed to find a crack in the wall. They are experts on walls. The affected apps include the popular messaging app WeChat, and the Uber competitor Didi Kuaidi. Some of these apps deal with financial information and may have already exposed their users’ bank records or credit card information.
Apple’s curated app store has been praised because it offers security from viruses and malware. Submitted apps are inspected by the company before being put on sale. Some users trade this security for flexibility by jailbreaking their devices to be able to download apps that doesn’t pass Apple’s standards. Jailbroken devices could easily become hosts to malware as unsanctioned apps could be malware in disguise.
But Apple’s scrutiny can only go so far. Sometimes it slips and here’s the result. Unfortunately, this incident won’t be the last. The more we depend on Apple products to purchase goods and services, more malware authors will try to get into the system, if they haven’t already. Apple has reached critical mass and will soon have its share of trojans, viruses, worms and other malware. This also means new business for Symantec, Kaspersky, McAfee and other security companies.
Imagine writing a document on a virtual typewriter, ticking sound and all. Imagine holding a virtual pen to change something on the document or simply erasing a word or phrase by smudging the paper with your fingers. Imagine ripping the entire page and tossing it in a virtual bin in order to erase the whole document. That’s exactly the scenario this author envisioned when Microsoft introduced the Hololens. That someday, the revolutionary technology will be used for Microsoft Office.
Yes, it’s pretty laughable looking like an idiot typing in thin air. Like Steve Jobs high on LSD waving is hands around while listening to classical music when you’re actually designing your next presentation on PowerPoint. But in an office where everyone’s wearing a more compact version, colleagues would be seeing you actually doing something. The entire office would be surreal, like Iron Man or Final Fantasy surreal. But admit it, this author wasn’t alone in thinking the same thing no matter how ludicrous it would physically look like.
Corporate Vice President for Office 365 client Apps and Services Kirk Koenigsbauer thinks it’s a great idea. Instead of a bulky laptop or a clumsy tablet (unless you’re using a Surface Pro), users can just put on their Hololens headsets and enter a virtual office scrolling through virtual folders, akin to Phil Coulson searching through the files in Nick Fury’s toolbox in a cramped space in a scene of Agents of SHIELD. Also imagine looking at Excel 3D graphs from all angles and imagine a spreadsheet with an X, Y and Z axis. Pivoting data just became simpler. If Office 2016’s live co-authoring feature is considered during Hololens development, two users could easily edit an open Word document or Excel spreadsheet at the same time.
Microsoft is really onto something with the Hololens. Hopefully it won’t be vaporware and hopefully it gets released before someone beats them to the punch because they just might make office work something to look forward to.