Apple Fixes Nasty Security Bugs, HBO Max Suddenly Removes Content, and a16z Supports Neumann's Next Thing TechCrunch

Hello Hello! We are back with another edition of Review of the week, the newsletter where we quickly summarize the most important stories that have appeared on TechCrunch over the past seven days. Want it in your inbox? Register here.

other stuff

a16z supports the WeWork founder’s new thing: When a company collapses badly enough that inspires a miniseries, would anyone back the founders again? That doesn’t seem to have dissuaded a16z, who recently put their biggest check into WeWork founder Adam Neumann’s next thing.

The founder of Black Girls Code has been fired from the board: “Kimberly Bryant has officially left Black Girls Code, eight months after being suspended indefinitely from the organization she founded,” write Natasha Mascarenhas and Dominique-Madori Davis. Bryant has filed a lawsuit in response to the termination, alleging “wrongful termination and a conflict of interest.”

Google is shutting down IoT Core: Google’s IoT Core is a service designed to help device makers build Internet-connected gadgets that connect to Google Cloud. This week, Google announced it was shutting it down, giving those device makers a year to come up with another solution.

Apple’s big security blunder: It’s time to update your Apple devices! This week, the company sent out critical patches that fix two (!) security issues that attackers appear to be already actively exploiting. The bugs involve Safari’s WebKit engine and could lead to an attacker essentially having full access to your device – so really go update.

HBO Max removes titles: HBO Max is merging with Discovery+, and for some reason that means a bunch of titles are loading — and fast. I was going to tell everyone to work their way through the amazing Summer Camp Island series before it’s gone, but obviously has already been removed. Find it full list of missing/soon-to-be-missing titles here.

TC fights stalkerware: Reverse in February, TechCrunch’s Zach Whittaker pulled back the curtain on a network of “stalkerware” apps designed to quietly gobble up private text messages, photos, browsing history, and more. of the victim. This week, Zack released a tool designed to help people determine if their Android phone — and thus their personal data — was compromised. We’ll hear more from Zach about this new tool below.

Illustration of a blue illuminated phone with a location pointer above it, against a background of red and blue moving eyes.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

audio stuff

What’s happening in the TechCrunch podcast world? This week the Equity team talked about why we should “officially stop comparing Adam Neumann and Elizabeth Holmes,” and Burnsey spoke with Athena co-founder Roxanne Petraeus and Homebrew’s Hunter Walk about how to “sell the vision, not the business.” on TechCrunch Live.

extra stuff

What’s behind the TC+ paywall? Some really cool stuff! Here’s a taste:

How does venture capital work?: Seems like a basic question, but we get…quite a lot. Hadje, with his rare overlapping perspective as a reporter AND pitching coach AND former venture capital fund executive, breaks it down as only he can.

Planning to use your equity as collateral? Luck: After years of work, you managed to build up a lot of capital in the private company you helped build. Can you actually use it as collateral for something? Compound’s Max Brenner walks us through the challenges.

writer in the spotlight: Zach Whittaker

Image Credits: Veanne Cao

This week, we’re experimenting with a new section where we quickly catch up with a TechCrunch writer to hear a little about them and what’s on their mind this week. First? The incredible, the inimitable Zach Whittaker.

Who is Zach Whittaker? What do you do at TechCrunch?

Hi, I’m the security editor here, aka TechCrunch’s Bearer of Bad News, and I oversee the security desk. We uncover and report on the big cybersecurity news of the day—hacks, data breaches, nation-state attacks, surveillance and national security—and how they affect you and the broader tech scene.

If you could snap your fingers and tell everyone in the world one thing about your beat, what would it be?

Think of cybersecurity as an investment for something you hope never happens, like a breach of your personal data. Better get ahead of it now. Today, it’s easier than ever — and it’s never too late to get started. Invest a little time in three simple steps that make it much harder for hackers to break into your accounts or steal your data: Use password managerI’m setting up two-factor authentication wherever you can and keep your apps and devices up to date.

Tell me about this anti-stalking tool you launched this week

Back in February, TechCrunch revealed that a network of almost identical “stalkerware” apps. share the same common security flaw that has leaked the personal phone data of hundreds of thousands of Android device owners around the world. These malicious apps are placed by someone with access to your phone and are designed to remain hidden but silently steal the victim’s phone data such as messages, photos, call logs, location and more. Months later, we received a leaked list of every single device that had been compromised by these apps. The data did not have enough information to identify or notify the victims, so we built this search tool to allow anyone to check if their device has been compromised – and how to do it remove the spywareif it is safe to do so.

ugh good. So someone grabs your phone, installs one of these sketchy apps while you’re not paying attention, the app extracts your personal data for the installer to review… meanwhile, the app leaks a bunch of data to anyone who knows where to look. Does it look like the people behind the stalkerware apps have any intention of stopping?

Not at all. The Vietnam-based developer group behind the stalking web went to great lengths to keep their identities hidden (but not well enough). The number of compromised devices grew daily, but with no fix expected, we published our investigation to warn victims of the dangers of this spyware. No one in civil society should be subject to this kind of invasive surveillance without their knowledge or consent.

Besides this tool (which is excellent!), what’s your favorite post you’ve written or done with TC?

In the four years since I’ve been here? This is difficult! One I still think about often is the inside story about how two British security researchers in their early 20s helped save the Internet from the rapidly spreading WannaCry ransomware in 2017, which spread around the world, shutting down computers in NHS hospitals, shipping giants and transport hubs, causing billions of dollars in damage. But when one of them found and registered a specific domain name in the malware’s code, the attack stopped dead in its tracks. They discovered the malware kill switch, making them overnight “accidental” heroes. But the only thing stopping another WannaCry outbreak was keeping the breakpoint domain in their hands alive, despite bad actors’ efforts to force it offline by overwhelming it with Internet traffic. “Being responsible for the thing that keeps the NHS going? Damn, terrifying,” one of the researchers told me at the time.

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