Archive for December 30, 2019

Monday, December 30, 2019

Comparison of Reverse Image Search Engines

Aric Toler (via Nick Heer):

However, if you only use Google for reverse image searching, you will be disappointed more often than not. Limiting your search process to uploading a photograph in its original form to just may give you useful results for the most obviously stolen or popular images, but for most any sophisticated research project, you need additional sites at your disposal — along with a lot of creativity.

This guide will walk through detailed strategies to use reverse image search in digital investigations, with an eye towards identifying people and locations, along with determining an image’s progeny.

He says Yandex is “by far the best.”

Update (2020-01-24): Nick Heer:

At the time that I linked to the Bellingcat report, I wondered why Google’s reverse image recognition, in particular, was so bad in comparison. In tests, it even missed imagery from Google Street View despite Google regularly promoting its abilities in machine learning, image identification, and so on. In what I can only explain as a massive and regrettable oversight, it is clear to me that the reason Google’s image search is so bad is because Google designed it that way. Otherwise, Google would have launched something like Yandex or Clearview AI, and that would be dangerous.

“Erase Mac” Doesn’t?

Howard Oakley:

What does the terse phrase Erase Mac mean? If you think that it means completely erase your Mac, then I’m with you. But that apparently isn’t what Apple means, at least not when it comes to the Find My service and Activation Lock.


But hang on: according to another support note, ‘Erase your Mac’ is one of the features of Find My, which allows you to delete everything on your lost or stolen Mac.


Just to make this clear, let’s establish what Apple means by the following terms:

  • erase filedelete a file completely
  • erase volume/diskdelete the entire contents of that volume/disk
  • erase Mac – maybe (or maybe not) delete some Apple Pay data on that Mac.

This is so confusing:

See also: Apple’s Activation Lock Will Make It Very Difficult to Refurbish Macs (tweet).


Update (2019-12-31): I now think there are documentation issues and a bug but that Erase Mac is intended to erase the Mac. Please see the comments below and here.

Apple’s Filing Against Corellium and Jailbreaking

Amanda Gorton (MacRumors):

Apple’s latest filing against Corellium should give all security researchers, app developers, and jailbreakers reason to be concerned. The filing asserts that because Corellium “allows users to jailbreak” and “gave one or more Persons access… to develop software that can be used to jailbreak,” Corellium is “engaging in trafficking” in violation of the DMCA. In other words, Apple is asserting that anyone who provides a tool that allows other people to jailbreak, and anyone who assists in creating such a tool, is violating the DMCA.


Across the industry, developers and researchers rely on jailbreaks to test the security of both their own apps and third-party apps – testing which cannot be done without a jailbroken device. For example, a recent analysis of the ToTok app revealed that an Apple-approved chat app was being used as a spying tool by the government of the United Arab Emirates, and according to the researchers behind this analysis, this work would not have been possible without a jailbreak.

The filing is available here (tweet).

Will Strafach:

in their most recent court filing, Apple has declared an all out war on jailbreaking.

they’ve actively decided that they will destroy the livelihoods of those who dare to help folks escape the walled garden.

Jamie Bishop:

Apple’s latest filing in the Corellium case is HORRIFYING.

It effectively will set a precedent which makes unsanctioned research of Apple products ILLEGAL.


I am SO unbelievably disappointed that Apple has declared war on the security scene.

They lost all those years ago with the DMCA exemption, but now they’ve decided to go after the researchers, the people keeping US safe.

Pwn All The Things:

If Apple won this case, not just Apple, but any platform company could sue any security researcher for publishing a tool to help with security research on their platform. The DMCA claim is a really extreme claim.

Miguel de Icaza:

“We are profiting from Apple’s IP for security” is not any different than “we are selling bootlegged DVDs of Star Wars for the sake of the children”

Of course, under capitalism rules, the next step is to offer more scenarios beyond security for the product - assorted virtualization workloads are the obvious next step. Then followed by tools to install iOS on non-Apple hardware. This is why Apple will fight this.

It seems like Corellium is probably legally in the wrong, at least with respect to the virtualization product. Apple also acted dishonorably towards them and is now trying to use the case to overreach and assert even more control.


Update (2020-01-03): Kyle Wiens (Hacker News):

Despite a lack of apparent interest in enforcing their copyright to iOS software, in this specific case Apple has decided to exert control over iOS. And they’ve crossed a red line by invoking the most notorious statute in the US copyright act, section 1201. This is the very law that made it illegal for farmers to work on their tractors and for you to fix your refrigerator. It’s the same law that we’ve been whacking away at for years, getting exemptions from the US Copyright Office for fixing, jailbreaking, and performing security research on everything from smartwatches to automobiles.


In other words: Corellium sells a way to use iOS that works around the way Apple intended it to work. Apple knows that you can’t use Corellium’s software to create your own knock-off iPhone. But they can claim that Corellium’s software is illegal, and they might technically be right.

Update (2020-02-14): Pwn All The Things:

Notice how Apple defines “good-faith” research here. That for Corellium to be a “good-faith” org, it would have to require its users to turn over any security research directly to Apple. Otherwise it’s not “good faith”.

But, wait, it gets worse. Apple defines “good faith” as not only turning over all your research on their platform and also requiring that your customers turn over theirs, but they also reserve the right to just not ever pay for it if you do.

That’s the point. The lawsuit is about strategic control of the security market on iOS.

“Good faith” researchers are the ones who go cap in hand and beg Apple for permission to test and give Apple all their research at prices Apple decides (which might be $0, yolo)

J. A. Guerrero-Saade:

For iOS, Apple is betting the house on the walled garden / code signing / dev verification approach. Meaning exploits are that much more important in the attack chain. Once past initial checks, Apple’s unwillingness to actively check device integrity means attackers are king.


Claiming Corellium enables attackers undermines the fact that most defenders are being barred from researching this space while attackers have been doing just fine. Need is huge. Research enablers must be embraced and emboldened precisely to entice defenders to look.

Update (2020-02-24): Pwn All The Things:

Me: oh looks like this lawsuit is about Apple cornering the infosec research community on their platform

Lots of people: wow sounds like you’re overreacting

Apple: uses lawsuit as vehicle to subpoena random other security researchers

Apple Forces CoinBase to Remove Support for DApps

The Block (via Mike Dudas, Hacker News, Reddit):

Coinbase Wallet, Coinbase’s mobile cryptocurrency wallet, may soon remove its DApp browsing feature according to a message appearing in the app. According to Coinbase, it is removing the DApp browser functionality “in order to comply with App Store policy.”

Brian Armstrong:

If Apple customers want to be able to use Dapps, we may need to make this request know to Apple in some way. This is an important area of innovation in finance, and many developers and early adopters of this technology have millions of dollars worth of crypto tied up in these financial applications, which they will no longer be able to use on Apple mobile devices if this app store policy continues.


Apple and Google have complete control over the mobile market which is the dominant way humanity interacts with the internet in today’s world, especially in developing countries. Having a policy which forbids arbitrary things like listing other apps for users to interact with is very dangerous as it effectively bans whole industries from competing on a level playing field.

This is a big problem for cryptocurrency especially as mobile web browsers cannot interact with blockchains and so users are forced to use custom apps that implement the web3 interfaces. This effectively bans wallets from providing a good experience to allow users to interact with dapps and since you can’t fall back to using a web browser on mobile it might end up being a total ban on the use of dapps on mobile platforms unless each dapp makes their own app (which just opens a whole new can of worms).