Friday briefing: Malicious websites hacked into iPhones for years

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For two years, malicious websites secretly installed spyware on any iPhone that loaded them, using previously unknown security vulnerabilities (BBC News). The exploit was discovered by Google Project Zero security researchers, who found that attackers were using 12 discrete vulnerabilities, mostly in Safari, to compromise devices.

Once the malicious software had been implanted, it sent users’ personal data back to the malware creators’ server every 60 seconds, including contacts, images, GPS location information and data from apps such as Instagram, WhatsApp, Gmail, Hangouts and Telegram. The vulnerabilities were patched in February, six days after Project Zero alerted Apple.

The Dutch health ministry has announced an experiment, starting in 2021, that will see fully-legal, quality-tested cannabis sold at “coffee shops” in ten municipalities (Euronews). While the drug has been decriminalised in the Netherlands since 1976, the supply chain still relies on criminal growers and importers, making it harder for the government to regulate for quality.

Russia’s Arctic territory now includes five new islands in the Novaya Zemlya archipelago, which have just been mapped by an expedition (BBC News). They were first discovered in 2016 by Maritime Academy student Marina Migunova, who analysed the retreat of the Nansen – or Vylka – Glacier in satellite photos. As major glaciers retreat in the face of human-induced global heating, new regions are being mapped.

A major genome study of 493,001 people in the US, UK and Sweden has unsurprisingly found no evidence of a specific ‘gay gene’ (Gizmodo). Instead, it provides confirmation that the relationship between our genetic markers and our sexual orientation is just one part of a complex whole, alongside our environment and life experiences.

Codemasters’ 2015 racing game hit DiRT Rally is available for free to anyone with – or prepared to sign up for – a Humble account and newsletter subscription (Rock Paper Shotgun). The UK games chart topper is well worth having and the offer lasts until 18:00 BST on Sunday, September 1 – you’ll need to redeem the code on Steam by September 5, though.

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