How to stop robocalls on iPhone, Android: These apps fight spammers

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Remember back in the day when your phone rang, and you would answer it? Robocallers have ruined that. Now we stare suspiciously at every call and send unknown numbers, even when it looks local, straight to voicemail. And for good reason!

So far, in 2021, scammers have made 22 billion calls nationwide. That’s roughly 67 calls to every man, woman, and child in America. Answering calls from an unknown number invites a scammer – and in many cases, actual criminals – into your life.

Here are the five most straightforward ways to block robocalls and eventually get them to – mostly, hopefully, fingers crossed – stop calling us for good. 

The FTC says  robocalling – which it defines as calls meant to sell your something without your express permission – is illegal, period. Full stop.

1. Don’t answer. Ever.

Never pick up a call you.suspect is spam. Every single time you engage, even a little, it paints a giant red target on your head and means you will get more calls, period.

Every time you engage with a scam caller, you’re encouraging a criminal industry to continue harassing us all.

I know it’s tempting to “try to mess around with the scammers.” I’ve heard from hundreds of people throughout the years who think they’ve found the exact right way to annoy the annoy-ers – and oh, isn’t that great fun? 


‘Fortnite’ Maker Targets Apple’s ‘Walled Garden’ in Courtroom Fight Over App Store

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In its courtroom battle with

Apple Inc.,

AAPL 0.53%

Epic Games Inc. is questioning a core tenet of the iPhone maker’s App Store business: that its success relies upon rigorous policing of the platform.

Apple for years has said its rules and vetting process for apps protect users from malicious software and abuse, work that helps justify the up to 30% cut it takes of digital transactions there. In documents and testimony in a lawsuit being argued this month before a federal judge in Oakland, Calif., Epic has said Apple’s contentions don’t hold up to scrutiny.

The App Store’s business model, which has been called a “walled garden” due to the company’s tight controls, faces rising criticism from a host of developers, from

Spotify Technology SA

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Facebook Inc.

Epic and others are seeking to undermine Apple’s rationale for its control of third-party software on its more than one billion iPhones, claiming the operating system is what keeps users safe, not the App Store review process. Epic contends others could safely vet apps if allowed to create their own app stores.

“To justify its walled garden, Apple needed to convince those locked in and those locked out that the wall served some higher purpose, something more than profitability—and so Apple security justification was born,” Katherine Forrest, an Epic lawyer, told a judge this past week during the start of the trial, expected to last most of May.

Apple strongly disputes Epic’s claims that it is a monopoly and defends its app-store rules as a way to provide users with a safe, private and reliable place to download software. Apple says customers would be opened up to harm without its controls.

Epic and other app developers want to change Apple’s control over the third-party software on more than one billion iPhones; ‘Fortnite’ on an iPhone in 2020.




Government and industry push bitcoin regulation to fight ransomware

Government and industry officials confronting an epidemic of ransomware, where hackers freeze the computers of a target and demand a payoff, are zeroing in on cryptocurrency regulation as the key to combating the scourge, sources familiar with the work of a public-private task force said.

In a report on Thursday, the panel of experts is expected to call for far more aggressive tracking of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. While those have won greater acceptance among investors over the past year, they remain the lifeblood of ransomware operators and other criminals who face little risk of prosecution in much of the world.

Ransomware gangs collected almost $350 million last year, up threefold from 2019, two members of the task force wrote this week. Companies, government agencies, hospitals and school systems are among the victims of ransomware groups, some of which U.S. officials say have friendly relations with nation-states including North Korea and Russia.

“There’s a lot more that can be done to constrain the abuse of these pretty amazing technologies,” said Philip Reiner, chief executive of the Institute for Security and Technology, who led the Ransomware Task Force. He declined to comment on the report before its release.

Just a week ago, the U.S. Department of Justice established a government group on ransomware. Central bank regulators and financial crime investigators worldwide are also debating if and how cryptocurrencies should be regulated.

The new rules proposed by the public-private panel, some of which would need Congressional action, are mostly aimed at piercing the anonymity of cryptocurrency transactions, the sources said. If implemented, they could temper enthusiasm among those who see the cryptocurrencies as a refuge from national monetary policies and government oversight of individuals’ financial activities, having surged past $1 trillion in total capitalization.

The task force included representatives from the FBI and the United States Secret Service as well as major tech and security companies. It will recommend steps such as extending “know-your-customer” regulations to currency exchanges; imposing tougher licensing requirements for those processing…


Cloudflare rallies the troops to fight off another so-called patent troll – TechCrunch

Nearly four years ago, we wrote about a battle between Cloudflare, the San Francisco-based internet security and performance company, and Blackbird Technologies, a firm that quickly amassed dozens of patents, then began using them to file dozens of patent infringement lawsuits against companies, including Cloudflare.

The suit was typical in every way, except how Cloudflare responded to it. Unlike many targets of similar lawsuits that opt to settle, Cloudflare fought back, asking very publicly for help in locating prior art that would not only invalidate the broad patent that Blackbird was using to sue Cloudflare, but to invalidate all of Blackbird’s patents. The public answered the call, and two years and 275 unique submissions later, the case against Cloudflare was dismissed and Blackbird’s operations were diminished.

One might surmise that given the stink that Cloudflare raised, other patent trolls might choose an easier target. Yet last month, Cloudflare was sued yet again, this time by Sable Networks, a “company that doesn’t appear to have operated a real business in nearly ten years — relying on patents that don’t come close to the nature of our business or the services we provide,” as says Doug Kramer, general counsel of CloudFlare.

Unsurprisingly, Cloudflare isn’t going to take this newest action lying down. This morning, after revealing the lawsuit publicly, it invited the engineering community to again “turn the tables” on patent trolls by inviting them to participate in a crowdsourced effort to find evidence of prior art to invalidate the “ancient, 20-year-old patents” that Cloudlflare says that Sable is is “trying to stretch . . . lightyears beyond what they were meant to cover.”

Cloudflare is also offering a $100,000 bounty to be split among entrants who provide the most useful prior-art references that can be used in challenging the validity of all of Sable’s patents, not just those being asserted against Cloudflare.

The idea is to deal a big enough blow to Sable that not only is its case against Cloudflare hobbled but also future cases against other entities.

“We feel fortunate that we didn’t run into one of these cases…