Trending December 2023 # Galxe Passport: A Universal Identity In The World Of Web3, Is Now Live! # Suggested January 2024 # Top 17 Popular

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Galxe, the leading Web3 credential data network has introduced a new addition to their already successful Galxe ID project –  Galxe Passport.  Galxe Passport promises an all-in-one solution for Web3 users to enjoy a seamless experience across a number of applications, with additional features, including Soulbound Tokens.

Galxe Passport enables users to adopt a single, universal account (also known as an identity), which can then be used across a number of applications for compliance purposes. Through their own personal encrypted password, users will enjoy peace of mind knowing that their accounts are secure and safe from potential sybil attacks. A unique proposition of the Galxe Passport is that users will have an opportunity to obtain a Soulbound Token – a non-transferrable NFT, backed by blockchain technology, representing an individual’s information which is unique and owned exclusively by the user.

“Galxe Passport is revolutionary not only for Galxe itself but for the Web3 space as a whole. This feature tests the boundaries of decentralization in this space, enabling a convenient, safe, and anonymous experience for all. We pride ourselves on being innovators at Galxe and plan to continue developing tools that ensure a secure Web3 experience. You and only you are in control of your Web3 destiny with Galxe Passport. And that’s a guarantee.” Said Co-Founder of Galxe, Harry Zhang.

Galxe ID, first launched in October of 2023 was highly praised for bridging a large gap in the Web3 space. The initial proposition of  Galxe ID was to become a universal “key” for users to enter the Web3 world, being able to access multiple on-chain and off-chain applications with ease. Being characterized as becoming one of the most important tools for recording users personal and behavioral footprints in the Web3 space, Galxe ID is currently home to 4.9 million active accounts. Users of Galxe ID, and its new addition of the Galxe Passport, will have an opportunity to showcase the history of their real life and online achievements all in one place. 

The introduction of Galxe Passport falls hand in hand with Galxe’s exciting rebrand (previously Project Galaxy). Through both their rebrand and introduction of this new feature, the Galxe team have shown great strides in continuous innovation not only within their brand and team, but also in the greater Web3 world. The Galxe Passport is revolutionizing the Web3 world through the guarantee of data ownership to the users. Additionally, the elimination of bots via the Galxe passport drives real user growth, naturally leading to loyal retention and lower compliance risks.  

Galxe Passport is made possible by the developers on the Galxe team along with Persona. Persona is the only identity platform that gives businesses the building blocks they need to build their ideal verification program. This is what Persona had to say about this feature:

“Persona is the leading identity infrastructure company that helps businesses prioritize trust and safety while minimizing fraud. With Persona, we are able to create seamless and automated identity verification programs without compromising on user experience. “Persona is very excited to help Galxe build trust and safety with the users on their platform. We are looking forward to growing our partnership and seeing the development of our verification solution firsthand,” said Fu Han Liang, VP of Customer Success at Persona.

With a mission to take the next step in a safer and more secure identity solution for all, Galxe are celebrating the launch of their new offering by giving away the first 10,000 Passport mints for free. With this, Galxe are hoping to see the Web3 community use this tool to grow, engage and create impactful experiences.

About Galxe

Galxe is the leading Web3 credential data network in the world. With a mission to build an open, collaborative credential data network, Galxe enables brands and developers to engage communities and build robust products in Web3. Through both on-chain and off-chain credentials, the Galxe infrastructure supports the curation of data credentials through multiple data sources. 

Galxe Passport – Your Universal Identity for Web3 Adventures

Galxe Passport was developed for sybil prevention and compliance purposes to allow partners of Galxe to be confident when launching their campaigns. The Galxe Passport is a Soulbound Token tied to a wallet address distinguishing a verified individual. Mint your Galxe Passport here!

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Windows 11 Kb5019342 Is Now Live On The Dev Channel

Windows 11 KB5019342 is now live on the Dev Channel




These are great times to be Windows Insiders for the latest Microsoft-designed OS.

Those that are testing on the Dev Channel have just received a brand new update.

Know that KB5019342 is an update that was designed to test the servicing pipeline.

We’re pretty sure that you’ve heard about the latest Insider build that Microsoft decided to ship to the Dev Channel, in order to test the servicing pipelines.

Yes, we are talking about KB5019342 and we will take a much closer look at this patch so that we can understand what all the fuss is about concerning this Insider release.

As you are all aware, Microsoft recently released version 22H2 for Windows 11 but has since blocked all updates to this version due to printing failures.

However, since we are here already, let’s also take a more in-depth look at this most recent Dev build and examine the changelog together.

What do Windows 11 Insiders get via Build 252112.1010?

Just as we’ve shared at the beginning of the article, Microsoft has released Windows 11 build 25211.1010 to all Insiders on the Dev Channel.

Keep in mind that this is a servicing update made to test the servicing pipeline, so there really isn’t anything major coming towards us via KB5019342.

This is still version 22H2, since the Sun Valley 3 development, which was known as Windows 11 23H2, has been canceled by Microsoft.

Expert tip:

Starting with this update, Microsoft has separated the widget picker and Widgets settings to make it easier to find and interact with each view.

The widget picker can now be opened with the + button and Widgets settings are opened by pressing the Me button.

Now, let’s take a much closer look at the changelog and see what changes, improvements, fixes, and known issues we are dealing with at the end of September.

Changes and Improvements [Taskbar] [System Tray]

This build includes preliminary support to rearrange System Tray icons for Insiders who have the System Tray updates that began rolling out with Build 25197. Further improvements for this experience are coming soon. As a reminder, these System Tray updates are still rolling out and are not available to all Insiders just yet. If your PC does not have these changes, your System Tray experience will remain the same as before.

[File Explorer]

Fixed an issue where the top part of File Explorer (with the search and address box) couldn’t be interacted with when File Explorer was in full screen mode (F11).

[Settings] Fixes [General]

We are beginning to roll out a server-side fix for the issue causing a “date, time and time zone settings are incorrect” message to be improperly displayed, which was also preventing the installation of the latest Insider Preview builds from proceeding.

[File Explorer]

Fixed the issue where the command bar items like copy, paste, and empty Recycle Bin were unexpectedly not be enabled sometimes when they have been.

Fixed an issue which was causing unexpected black bars on the sides of horizontal scroll bars when using dark mode.


When you have Start set to show more pinned items, the animation for opening folders lower on the page will now appear from the right place.


Fixed a high hitting Shell Experience Host crash in recent Dev Channel builds, impacting Quick Settings launch reliability.


The gripper for moving the emoji panel and touch keyboard should now update color correctly when you switch between dark and light mode.

Fixed a memory leak when repeatedly invoking the input switcher.

[Settings] [Task Manager]

Tweaked the graphs in the Performance page to use a bit more transparency so it’s easier to see the grid lines underneath.

Made another fix to improve Task Manager reliability.

Fixed a black flash while might be seen when launching Task Manager in light mode.

Fixed a few issues where the font color of certain elements wasn’t correct / readable when using a contrast theme.


Fixed an issue where Narrator would read out the details of the calendar that opens from selecting the date and time from the taskbar when it was collapsed.

Fixed an issue where chúng tôi was crashing repeatedly in Windows Sandbox for Insiders with the tablet optimized taskbar and updated system tray.

Fixed an issue which could lead to hangs in certain apps when opening the Open File Dialog.

Fixed an issue which was making the screen go black for some Insiders when enabling HDR recently.

Fixed an issue where after using the Open With dialog, the process might stay running even if it wasn’t in use anymore.

Fixed an issue which was leading to increased CPU usage for WSL2 users on ARM64 PCs even when WSL was idle.

Fixed an issue where closing the print dialog could lead to an app crash in the last couple flights.

Known issues [General]

Looking into reports that audio stopped working for some Insiders after upgrading to the latest flights.

Investigating reports of a few different apps having started crashing in recent builds.

Investigating reports that various UI elements in apps appear to be disappearing and reappearing sometimes in recent builds.

[Tablet-optimized taskbar]

The taskbar sometimes flashes when transitioning between desktop posture and tablet posture.

The taskbar takes longer than expected to transition to the touch-optimized version when switching between desktop posture and tablet posture.

Using the left or right edge gestures can result in the Widgets or Notification Center (respectively) to overlap with or look truncated by the taskbar.

When using the bottom right edge gesture to see Quick Settings, the taskbar sometimes stays stuck in the expanded state, instead of dismissing to collapsed state.

When there are no running windows on the desktop, the taskbar can sometimes collapse, when it should be expanded.

[Widgets] What can I do if I can’t install KB5019342?

Also, make sure to report any other issues you might come across, in order for Microsoft to address and improve the overall OS experience for us all.

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A Recent Study Reinforces The Idea That Music Is Universal

When you think of the songs of a faraway land or culture, what comes to mind? Is it something familiar, or something so unique from what you’re used to that you can barely guess what the music is about?

Turns out, your guess might be more educated than you think. Across cultures, we write different songs for different purposes, say, to start a religious procession, get your groove on, or hush a crying baby to sleep. But in the end, there’s more diversity within cultures than outside of them.

A new study published in Science breaks down how the purpose of music is universal across the world, despite the incredible variety within each cultural bubble.

“Cultures all over the world have different kinds of music in each society, but what this means is when you zoom out, society’s musical behaviors are pretty similar,” says lead author Sam Mehr, a psychologist at Harvard.

Mehr started working on the project after he kept reading a trite line at the top of research papers that said, “music is universal.” But every time he came across the statement, there wasn’t a citation to back it up.

To see if there was any substance to this claim, he and his fellow researchers created two databases: one with descriptions from anthropologists of what happened when music from 60 was playing, and another of 118 audio recordings from 86 different societies.

He found that there were three characteristics of behavior that consistently characterized music: formality, arousal (or how calming or exciting a song was), and religiosity. Most societies had music that fell into more than one category.

Given those categories, both machines and foreign listeners were able to pick out a song’s purpose in further tests. The researchers investigated responses from community scientists across the globe, looking at how well they could identify the type of tune based on samples from an online quiz.

People did a decent job guessing the themes, especially for dance songs and lullabies, says author Manvir Singh, a Harvard Ph.D. student in the department of human evolutionary biology. “Music appears in this huge diversity of behavioral, social, emotional context in human societies,” Singh says, “but it does so similarly across societies.”

Daniel Levitin, a cognitive scientist who’s done similar research on music and evolution, believes this kind of systematic approach to understanding music is long overdue. He also says that the study points to an evolutionary history between music and humans.

“The musical brain may have led to things that we take for granted in human nature, like compassion and empathy, because music uniquely can help us achieve those states,” Levitin explains. “Not to mention awe, appreciation, and gratitude.”

For Mehr and his team, the hunt for data is just the beginning. The lab is running more detailed quizzes to dig into how people respond to what they hear. They also hope to do studies on different populations like infants to see how they react to tunes like lullabies from faraway societies.

Singh says he also hopes to analyze lyrics and the way they shape people’s feelings and actions, even if it’s in a language they don’t understand. “Exploring the lyrics allows us to better understand how music can induce these emotional or behavioral responses,” says Singh, “but also, in a broader way, the world view of the people who are singing.”

A Comprehensive Guide To Web3: The Future Of The Internet

By now, you’ve probably heard the phrase “Web3” more than a few times. Maybe it came up at work, at the gym, or at dinner during a friend’s ten-minute rant about why “Dogecoin is taking SpaceX to the Moon.”

All this talk about Web3 can be a little disconcerting. After all, most of us are still adjusting to the new socio-political reality that social media created, so the thought of a new version of the internet can be overwhelming.

But we’re here to define the necessary terms and unpack Web3 — the next stage of the internet. 

Before we begin, it’s important to note that Web3 is still in its infancy. As such, it’s rapidly evolving, and it will continue to evolve for quite some time. But although the full impact and ultimate form of Web3 won’t be realized anytime soon, we do have a firm understanding of its foundational principles. Namely, it’s centered on an ecosystem of technology projects that are: 





To break down exactly what these concepts mean and why they’re so fundamental to Web3, it helps to take a trip down memory lane. Discussing the history of the internet makes where we’re going a lot clearer.

What was Web 1.0?

So far, there have been two previous iterations of the internet: Web 1.0 and Web 2.0. Web 1.0 was the dinosaur age of the internet, spanning from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s. It was born out of work that began in 1973 when the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) started research on protocols that would allow computers to communicate over a distributed network. For the uninitiated, protocols are standardized, predetermined rules that let connected devices communicate with each other across a network. 

The earliest version of the web was decentralized, meaning that it was built on top of a series of free-to-use, open protocols. Unlike proprietary protocols, open protocols are not owned by a centralized authority or limited to a particular company’s products. Many of these early web protocols, such as HTTP (web), SMTP (email), and FTP (file transfer), serve as the foundation of the modern internet applications we know and love. 

In this respect, it was the “read-only” era. 

Website owners’ primary interest was disseminating information to as many readers as possible, not actively engaging with those who visited their site. When sites like IMDB were first born, web pages were just a smattering of links — and that’s pretty much all there was to the internet. 

What was Web 2.0?

For the past twenty years, we’ve been living with Web 2.0. It isn’t characterized by a technical shift. Instead, it stems from a change in how we use the internet. Web 2.0 is a version of the internet that enables everyday users to create, share, and publish content. The average individual isn’t a passive observer anymore. Instead, they play an active role in creating the internet.

Sadly, Web 2.0 is largely characterized and defined by these intermediaries. 

To find a company or brand, people rely on a Google search. To find interesting artists, people rely on Instagram or Spotify. To find products, people rely on Amazon. Have you seen the trend yet?

Platforms like Google, Spotify, Amazon, Facebook, and all the other big names in Web 2.0 serve as centralized data aggregators. They are intermediaries between suppliers and consumers, capturing nearly all the value — in the form of data and money — in the process. 

These multisided platforms, which create value primarily by enabling direct interactions between groups, rose in popularity with Web 2.0. In fact, they now dominate the global economy and are some of the world’s most profitable companies. This came with some problems. 

The problems in Web 2.0

Eventually, it became profitable for these platforms to make it more difficult for groups to interact directly with one another, and so intermediaries became more of a roadblock than a thoroughfare. Let’s use Facebook as an example. 

Now, Facebook is an intermediary that determines when and how users and businesses interact and engage. Google does much the same with their ad platforms and Amazon with their featured products.

If you still don’t see the problem with this, The Oatmeal summed things pretty well. 

In Web 2.0, these intermediaries hold all the power. They own all our data and dictate what we can and can’t do online, reserving the right to shut down our access to platforms whenever they please and at their sole discretion. Regardless of which side of the political line you fall on, you’ve all seen the power of these intermediaries first hand, such as with the suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s Twitter account.

For those concerned with data privacy, who fear the immense power that comes with such centralization, or who have no choice but to build businesses on the backs of social networks and commerce marketplaces, Web 2.0 has deeply troubling risks. 

Enter the blockchain and Web3.

What is Web3 and why you should care

The stage following Web 2.0 was known as Web 3.0 until Gavin Wood coined “Web3” around 2014. For better or worse, the short name stuck. So, what is Web3? In short, Web3 is about undoing all the problems that came about in Web 2.0. This next generation of the internet is focused on shifting power away from big tech companies and towards individual users.

As was mentioned at the beginning, Web3 is centered on an ecosystem of technology products that are decentralized, trustless, permissionless, and interoperable. Now it’s time to explain exactly what this means and why you should care about Web3.

The meaning of decentralization and trustless

Rather than relying on a single centralized server, Web3 is built on top of blockchain-powered crypto networks that enable data to be stored across distributed devices (also known as “nodes”) worldwide. Ultimately, these distributed devices can be anything, such as computers, laptops, or even bigger servers. They serve as the framework of the blockchain, communicating with each other to enable the storage, spread, and preservation of data without the need for a trusted third party. 

Thanks to these nodes, the blockchain provides an immutable record — it’s a decentralized proof of ownership vehicle that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.

With Web 2.0, we’ve had no choice but to hand our data over to big tech giants like Google and Facebook. We had no choice but to rely on AWS for many of our tools and services. Even further, we’ve needed to trust that these parties will use this data ethically. As we’ve seen with the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s very easy for our data to be used against us, and this can have global socio-political ramifications. 

Problems like this are why the decentralized ownership of our data and identity, also known as “self-sovereign identity,” is more important than ever before.

The meaning of interoperability and permissionless

This self-sovereign ownership is achieved through digital wallets like MetaMask (for Ethereum and ETH-compatible blockchains) or Phantom (for the Solana blockchain). A little like a “wallet” in the real world, a digital wallet serves as your Web3 identity, safely holding both your currency and your data.

This wallet is interoperable, meaning it can be seamlessly taken around the internet and work with various products and systems, allowing you to choose which decentralized apps have access to your property. Additionally, all transactions and interactions on the blockchain are permissionless, meaning they don’t require approval from a trusted third party to be completed. 

Let’s dig into why this is helpful and necessary.

Today, individuals must use their Facebook or Google login to access many online applications, which forces them to hand over their data. But in Web3, individuals will own their identities. By replacing third parties with the blockchain, Web3 unlocks entirely new business models and value chains, ones where centralized intermediaries are no longer favored. Ultimately, Web3 takes power from the intermediaries and gives it back to individuals. 

In fact, we are already seeing this firsthand with NFTs (non-fungible tokens). 

Many artists, musicians, and other creators have recently started to experiment with ways in which they can receive the lion’s share of the revenue from their work. Much of this can be credited to the function of smart contracts, which are predetermined agreements programmed into a blockchain that automatically executes once specified terms are met. Specifically, with NFTs, smart contracts allow for secondary royalty structures, meaning creators get paid out every time their work switches hands on the open marketplace.

Thanks to this fundamental change in the value chain, creators are earning more than ever and slowly shifting the painfully true stereotype of the “starving artist.” That’s the essence of why you should care about Web3.

FAQs regarding Web3 What’s the role of DAOs in Web3?

Alongside this new value chain, Web3 has birthed entirely new economic organizations. Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) are a core function of interacting across the Web3 space. As Linda Xi explains, a DAO is a group of individuals organized around a mission that “coordinates through a shared set of rules enforced on a blockchain.”

And unlike traditional top-down organizations, which nearly all corporations or non-profits are, DAOs operate with a flat hierarchical structure, allowing all members a say in crucial decisions that affect the broader group — instead of just the primary shareholders. 

Several crypto projects can also be considered DAOs, as many of them are managed by a decentralized form of governance in which token holders vote on the project’s future. To date, DAOs have been used to crowdfund projects, govern communities, and have even attempted to buy the U.S. constitution. 

How is Web3 connected to the metaverse? 

While the terms “Web3” and “metaverse” are often used interchangeably, they shouldn’t be. They are not the same. 

The metaverse is best defined as a blending of the physical and virtual world. Proponents of the metaverse argue that such a future is inevitable and that humans will one day spend the bulk of their waking hours in a world that is augmented in some way. The idea gained a lot of traction recently, as Facebook’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, bet big on the metaverse by renaming his social media company “Meta”.

Web3 is a decentralized version of the internet and doesn’t have anything to do with augmenting physical reality. While many Web3 protocols, such as NFTs or peer-to-peer cryptocurrency transactions, may be used in the future metaverse, Web3 is not the metaverse. 

What are the problems with Web3?

That said, there are more serious concerns with Web3.

To begin with, with significant changes comes significant risk. One of the best parts about Web3 is having full ownership of your data. It’s also the worst part. The Web3 space is still very much a Wild West, filled with bad actors. Without reliance on a centralized authority, you are fully responsible for keeping your data and currency safe. This means practicing proper wallet safety, constantly being alert for phishing schemes, and never (never ever!) giving out your seed phrase. Even the most trusted Web3 protocols and platforms have been hacked and exposed, so it’s crucial always to have your guard up.

In short, trustlessness isn’t a universal truth in Web3. You need to trust yourself.

Screenshot showing a phishing attack against users on OpenSea

There are also scalability issues. While few would argue that decentralization is a bad thing in and of itself, transactions are slower on Web3 precisely because they’re decentralized. Changes need to be processed by a miner and propagated throughout the network, which takes time. 

Then there are the gas fees. Gas fees are the payments that users make to use the Ethereum blockchain, the world’s most popular blockchain. Specifically, “gas” is the fee required to conduct a blockchain transaction successfully. These fees can soar to hundreds of dollars a transaction during peak times. 

Then there is the decentralization conundrum. Even though blockchains may be decentralized, many of the Web3 services that use them are currently controlled by a minuscule number of privately held companies. And there are valid concerns that the industry that’s emerging to support the decentralized web is highly consolidated.

And in truth, this is far from an exhaustive list of concerns. However, as mentioned, Web3 is still in its infancy, and many developers are actively working on solving the present problems. 

So, the main takeaway (if there is one) is this: Web3 is envisioned as the next stage of the internet. It’s a decentralized, privacy-first internet age where users own their data and profits are shifted away from centralized intermediaries and into the hands of creators and their communities. If the developers working on the current problems are successful, we might just get there.

Web3 explained with simple examples

How To Reduce The Risk Of Identity Theft ?

How to Reduce The Risk of Identity Theft?

Don’t Panic With Proper and Advanced Planning, Loss and Risk can be Minimized

Identity fraud, the fastest growing online crime is where someone’s data is used to impersonate and deceive others for personal financial gain.

Know More:- How Apps Leak Your Personal Data

Why is your Personal Information Stolen?

To perform two primary types of fraud threat actors, steal your personal information:

New Account Fraud : when bad guys use SSN to open new accounts and get loans.

How Your Personal Information is Stolen ?

Various methods are used by threat actors to steal your personal data i.e. Social Security Numbers (SSNs), credit card details, username, passwords, date of birth and other pieces of personally identifiable information.

Ways used by Cybercriminals to Steal Personal Information:

Data Breaches

Collecting documents like pre-approved bank loan, boarding passes, credit card statement and others from dumpsters. As you throw them without tearing off printed personal information on it

Stealing wallets

By accessing compromised mail accounts to acquire pre-approved offers, bank statement, tax information, and other details

By procuring SSNs and names from personnel or customer files

Shoulder surfing at ATM machines

Credit or debit card information skimming at ATM machines or point of sale

Through dark web

Phishing emails

Hacking unsecured and unencrypted data files of financial institutions and retailers

Know More Why Is Online Privacy Important?

How to Reduce the Risk of Identity Theft

If you suspect that your personal information has been compromised, and you are victim to ID theft you should take the following steps:

Review your credit, debit card and bank statement to check if there’s any suspicious transaction

Be vigilant while using credit and debit cards at stores and restaurants. As deceitful employees are known to use skimmers (a small device that can capture your card data). This data is used by threat actors for Internet shopping to create imitation cards

Use credit cards instead of debit cards when shopping online as they are better protected in case of identity fraud

Never disclose your credit, debit card number, SSN on phone or mail

Avoid using the last four digits of SSN, birthdate when creating passwords and PINs

Create complex and hard to guess passwords and PINs

Register yourself for quick alert service to get information about bank withdrawals, card usage. So that if your card is not used by you get to know that in time and can take a prompt action before any more losses can be incurred

Create reminder questions for extra security, in doing so don’t use your pets name, mother’s maiden name and other personally identifiable information as identity thieves are smart enough to crack and guess it

Never use the same password for an account. Try not to save passwords online. You can use a password manager or can use Advanced Identity Protector program to securely save all personal information in an in-built Secure Vault. As all the information stored in Secure Vault is encrypted and can only be decrypted by using a password that’s only known to you

Armor your hand when using bank ATM or using a card at the point of sale as threat actors may be using the camera to record keystroke or there may be a shoulder surfer around you

Never reveal your SSN number on any online sites that aren’t official. If forced to share SSN number, ask them for an alternate or leave the site there and then. If possible avoid sharing SSN on a job application, can offer to share it when you go in person for the interview

Ask for credit reports once a year. Federal law gives you the right to get one free credit card report each year. You can get it from TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian

Know More : – Is Information Security Really Important?

How to Order Annual Credit Report?

You can order an annual credit report online by visiting: chúng tôi

Moreover, can contact credit reporting agencies.

Federal Trade Commission

Phone: (877) IDTHEFT (877-438-4338)

The data stored in it can only be accessed by you using a password. Moreover, you should always keep an eye out and should always think before you act. Therefore, you too need to practice all the things you preach others to stay secure from being a victim to identity theft.

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The World Of Hacking Icloud

An interesting in-depth report takes a look into how hackers are using password-phishing kits and fake receipts to remove Apple’s Activation Lock protection on stolen iPhones.

Activation Lock and Find My iPhone are two crucial features that have been very effective in reducing iPhone theft by rendering iCloud-locked devices useless.

Enabling the Find My iPhone feature on your iOS device automatically turns on Activation Lock protection. Activation Lock is designed to prevent anyone else from using your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple Watch if it’s ever lost or stolen without knowing your iCloud password.

Activation Lock requires a user’s iCloud password even if the device has been wiped clean or restored as new. While some hacks attempt to bypass Activation Lock, they’re rather complex and require using a computer that masquerades as an Apple activation server. But smart scammers have found some pretty creative ways to disable, not bypass Activation Lock.

Motherboard has the story:

So-called ‘iCloud unlock’ involves a complex supply chain of different scams and cybercriminals. These include using fake receipts and invoices to trick Apple into believing they’re the legitimate owner of the phone, using databases that look up information on iPhones, and social engineering at Apple Stores.

There are even custom phishing kits for sale online designed to steal iCloud passwords from a phone’s original owner.

Tell me more about the phishing kits!

Whereas more generic phishing kits may be used by a hacker for a number of different purposes, perhaps for stealing banking details, email credentials or online accounts in general, these kits are specifically designed to phish iCloud accounts.

The iCloud phishing kits come with templates designed to trick a victim that their iPhone was found. These kits allow a hacker to send SMS messages that appear to come from Apple that could trick a victim into giving up their iCloud credentials.

The kits can even generate fake maps of where the victim’s phone has apparently been discovered to further entice them. The kits keep track of a hacker’s list of targets, provide notifications on successful phishes and some require next to no technical setup, according to tutorial videos on how to use them.

Once a user’s iCloud password has been stolen using the methods described above, it can be simply entered when prompted in order to remove the Activation Lock protection.

The iCloud phishing kits start at just $75.

Another method involves document forgery and a trip to an Apple Store, where a Genius can override iCloud provided you’ve tricked them into unlocking a device you don’t own.

Mick Ventocilla, owner of Lakeshore Tech Repair:

You formulate a fake receipt, take it to the Apple Store, and say ‘Hey, I forgot my Apple ID information, but here’s a receipt.’

Ventocilla says he does not try to unlock iCloud but knows many in the repair industry who do. “They remove it. That’s one of the most common ways.” For those wondering, these scammers charge around $150 for a single fake invoice, or a discount if you buy two.

Armed with a legitimate-looking Apple invoice filed with accurate information about the phone such as its IMEI number—a unique, per device identifier code—and its estimated date of purchase, scammers can ask Apple customer support to remove iCloud from the device.

You could even have Apple Support remove Activation Lock via email!

Scammers don’t always need to go into an Apple store to do this—screenshots shared in the invoice chat room show successful iCloud removals by just conversing with Apple support over email. This likely only works with phones that have not been marked as stolen, however.

And then, there’s this method:

The iPhone’s CPU can be removed from the logic board and reprogrammed to create what is essentially a ‘new’ device.

This is very labor intensive and rare.

It is generally done in Chinese refurbishing labs and involves stealing a ‘clean’ phone identification number, called an IMEI.

And here’s that method in action.

Bypassing Activation Lock by reprogramming the iPhone’s CPU.

Not all iCloud-locked iPhones are stolen though.

There are many listings on eBay, Craigslist, and wholesale sites for phones billed as ‘iCloud-locked’ or ‘for parts’ or something similar. While some of these phones are almost certainly stolen, many of them are not.

According to three professionals in the independent repair and iPhone refurbishing businesses, used iPhones—including some iCloud-locked devices—are sold in bulk at private ‘carrier auctions’ where companies like T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and cell phone insurance providers sell their excess inventory (often through third-party processing companies.)

Because some customers who return their Apple smartphone to a carrier as part of their upgrade or insurance claim don’t always remove Activation Lock from the device, carriers and insurance companies can often get stuck with iCloud-locked phones.

Motherboard could not determine whether any carriers currently have the ability to independently remove iCloud lock from iPhones, or whether Apple ever helps carriers remove iCloud at scale.

That’s where the hackers come in! “The carriers sell a ton of locked devices,” one refurbisher who buys phones from private auctions told the publication.

Once iCloud-locked devices are back on the market—whether they are legally obtained or stolen—they either need to be stripped for parts, or somehow unlocked.

Carriers certainly want and need the ability to unlock iCloud-locked iPhones but Apple, on the other hand, probably has very little incentive to encourage the secondary market for iPhones.

Be sure to read the full report at Motherboard, it’s a very interesting read.

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