FBI iPhone hack may be bad news for privacy [telecom]

4 reasons why the FBI unlocking the San Bernardino iPhone without Apple is bad news

by Chris Smith

The government is confident it can hack into the San Bernardino iPhone

5c without Apple's help, at least according to statements made on Thursday. The FBI and DOJ have not detailed how the hackers who came forward with the proposal to help will do it, and it's too early to know for sure whether the procedure will work.

Even though you might think it's great news to hear that Apple doesn't have to fight a court order to break its own encryption, there are reasons to worry.

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Apple isn't fighting "a court order to break it's own encryption": it is fighting an order to make a custom version of IOS that will make it easier for the FBI to find a password by brute force.

But, now there's a company I've never heard of saying it can do it without Apple's help, and that makes me suspicious that the NSA is looking for an easy way to avoid disclosing any of the tricks "No Such Agency" has up its sleeve.

Bill Horne

Reply to
Bill Horne
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On 3/25/2016 2:11 PM, Bill Horne wrote: ...

It is obvious that the Nameless Secret Agency (which is not so secret any more) can open the iPhone. They have good labs and forensic experts. The obvious approach, which may require NSA-grade labs, is to disassemble the phone and extract the contents of memory. Then they can throw all the brute-force attacks they want against virtual clones.

Had the FBI quietly asked Apple to unlock the phone or simply extract its contents, Apple might have cooperated; I don't know if they have such good disassembly capabilities, but they know what pins of their own chips are needed to extract their contents. And the iPhone 5's encryption isn't nearly as strong as later models'.

But the FBI overplayed its hand. They used San Bernardino the way the Patriot Act's authors used 9/11, as an excuse to request something that otherwise would not be acceptable. They asked Apple for a master key that would unlock "that" iPhone, keeping the iPhone in the FBI's possession, knowing full well that it would unlock every iPhone, or at least every similar one. And Apple, like everyone with basic technical literacy, knew the consequences of setting loose a master key.

The FBI's acceptance of a third party offer (allegedly from Cellebrite) does sound like a face-saving gesture. They know they lost.

Reply to
Fred Goldstein

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