Apple Denies Handing Over Source Code to China

During an Energy and Commerce Committee hearing earlier this week, entitled “Deciphering the Debate Over Encryption: Industry and Law Enforcement Perspectives,” which discussed the feud between Apple and the FBI over an iPhone tied to the San Bernardino shootings, Indiana State Police Captain Charles Cohen, Commander of the Office of Intelligence and Investigative Technologies, accused the Cupertino company of releasing its iOS source code and user data to China, while refusing to do the same thing for the US.

“I saw several news stories that said Apple provided the source code for the iOS [operating system for iPhone and iPads] to China,” Cohen said.

Following Cohen’s claims, for which he provided no evidence, Bruce Sewell, Apple’s General Counsel, confirmed that the company had “been asked by the Chinese government” for the source code, but that “we refused.”

Apple was also accused of possessing a key to access encrypted user messages and data – which would mean the company’s claims of end-to-end encryption were fraudulent – which it disposed of at the end of 2014.

“We have not provided source code to the Chinese government,” Sewell countered. “We did not have a key 19 months ago that we threw away. Those allegations are without merit.”

Image courtesy of Shelley Palmer.

San Bernardino iPhone Proves Useless Following Decryption

After a lengthy court battle, lasting months, that sought to compel Apple to compromise the security on an iPhone belonging to San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook, the FBI finally achieved the feat on its own. The result? Absolutely nothing of use was gleaned from the device, according to an anonymous source within US law enforcement.

“A law enforcement source tells CBS News that so far nothing of real significance has been found on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, which was unlocked by the FBI last month without the help of Apple,” CBS News reports. “It was stressed that the FBI continues to analyze the information on the cellphone seized in the investigation.”

It is still unclear who was responsible for bypassing the encryption of Farook’s iPhone 5c, nor the mean by which it was achieved. Multiple sources, however, suggest that the FBI enlisted the help of a private group of “grey hat” hackers to help crack the device.

“The FBI cracked a San Bernardino terrorist’s phone with the help of professional hackers who discovered and brought to the bureau at least one previously unknown software flaw, according to people familiar with the matter,” according to the Washington Post. “[…] The people who helped the U.S. government come from the sometimes shadowy world of hackers and security researchers who profit from finding flaws in companies’ software or systems.”

“The company that helped the FBI unlock a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone to get data has sole legal ownership of the method, making it highly unlikely the technique will be disclosed by the government to Apple or any other entity, Obama administration sources said this week,” Reuters revealed. “[…]The sources said the technology used to get into the phone was supplied by a non-U.S. company that they declined to identify.”

Regardless, FBI Director James Comey has suggested that the FBI will likely keep the exploit it used to access the iPhone to themselves, lest Apple attempt to patch the vulnerability. “If we tell Apple, they’re going to fix it and we’re back where we started,” Comey said. “As silly as it may sound, we may end up there. We just haven’t decided yet.”

Apple & FBI Heading Back to Congress to Debate Encryption

When Apple and the FBI first appeared in front of congress the debate was if Apple could be ordered to unlock an iPhone, and if so should they then create a method where they could easily access future devices for law enforcement? While the case revolving around the San Bernardino phone is over, with the FBI gaining access with help from an external group, the debate is still far from over with both the FBI and Apple looking to appear before a congressional committee to debate encryption yet again.

The debate over encryption will see several people join the committee as witnesses, including Bruce Sewell (General Counsel, Apple Inc), Amy Hess (Executive Assistance Directory for Science and Technology, FBI) and Amit Yoran (President, RSA Security). Other witnesses include Ron Hickman representing the National Sheriffs Association and two police officers, Captain Charles Cohen and Chief Thomas Galati (Indiana state police and New York City Police respectively). With two university representatives Daniel Weitzner (MIT) and Matthew Blaze (University of Pennsylvania) appearing as well, it would appear that congress want to hear the debate from research, implementation and law enforcements points of views in an attempt to fully understand the debate that is raging on in countries all over the world about privacy vs protection.

With countries all over looking to this court case as an example of how technology has advanced while the law remains unclear, the congressional hearing could have a big impact on companies throughout America. The hearing will take place on April 19th and will be streamed on their site for ease of access.

Security Flaw Allowed The FBI To Create The iPhone Cracking Software

Apple vs the FBI looks liked it would never end, originally starting with the FBI requesting (and then a federal judge ordering) Apple’s support in unlocking and gaining access to an iPhone in a court case. Apple looked to defend itself and ultimately the FBI recalled its actions when it received support from an outside party. It has now been revealed how the tool used by the FBI gained access to the iPhone through the use of a security flaw.

The security flaw, one that was previously unknown to Apple, allowed the creation of a tool to crack the four digit pin used to protect the phone from 10 failed attempts to gain access to a phone. The group that provided the tool to the government was a group of “grey hat” hackers who actively seek out flaws in software to then sell on to groups such as the government.

The exposed flaw affects both the iPhone 5 and iOS 9 iPhones, and may not affect work on newer versions of both iPhones and the iOS operating system. With FBI director James B. Comey saying that they may or may not disclose the security flaw to Apple, but with the latest leak revealing where they need to focus, Apple may now fix the problem before others are able to exploit it.

FBI Says Hackers Have Had Access to Government Systems Since 2011

While trying to gain access to iPhones and emails, the FBI are having to deal with a wholly different threat. Their own systems have been compromised and a group of hackers has had access to governments systems since 2011.

The report that has been raised shows that a group that security experts believe to be APT6 has managed to hack and steal government secrets for years without being noticed. The alert lists a range of websites used in order to launch phishing attacks against the networks and dates the activities as far back as 2011.

APT6 (Advanced Persistent Threat 6) is a codename that has been given to a group of hackers believed to work for the Chinese government and are known for their consistently advanced techniques and the results they provide.

While the controlled by the hackers were “suspended” in December last year, this doesn’t mean that the hackers have been removed from the network, or that they don’t have other ways to access the system after 5 years of unauthorised activity within it.

Michael Adams, an information security expert, spoke with Motherboard and seemed less than impressed with the latest report, going on to say that it “looks like they were in for years before they were caught, god knows where they are. Anyone who’s been in that network all this long, they could be anywhere and everywhere”. Adams showed disbelief that this could happen, even asking the question “how many times can this keep happening before finally realize we’re screwed?”

State sponsored or not, hackers in a secure network is a bad thing, unknown hackers in a secure network is beyond worrying about because of the kinds of systems that rely on and act as if the network should be secure.

US Congress Bill Plans to Make Effective Encryption Illegal

In the wake of the FBI’s feud with Apple over bypassing the encryption of San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone, the US Congress is proposing a new bill that aims to outlaw effective encryption, what is termed “technical assistance”, requiring any company or entity to build in backdoors to its security systems for law enforcement to exploit.

In a draft of the proposed bill, written by a committee led by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-California) and Richard Burr (R-North Carolina) and leaked by politics news outlet The Hill, businesses are required to release “information or data” if served with a court order – meaning that they are legally obligated to have access to that data in the first place – or provide law enforcement agencies with “technical assistance as is necessary to obtain such information in an intelligible format or to achieve the purpose of the court order.”

While talk suggests that the leaked draft of the bill is close to its final iteration, its final draft could still change, especially since it does not have the support of President Obama. It is not yet known if this version of the bill has been submitted to Congress.

“While the bill claims that it in no way is designed to force companies to redesign their products, this is a subtle hypocrisy,” Jonathan Zdziarski , a computer forensics and encryption expert, wrote in a blog post. “The reality is that there is no possible way to comply with it without intentionally backdooring the encryption in every product that may be used in the United States.”

“This bill would not only be surrendering America’s cybersecurity but also its tech economy, as foreign competitors would continue to offer—and bad guys would still be able to easily use!–more secure products and services,” Kevin Bankston, Director of the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute, told Vice Motherboard. “The fact that this lose-lose proposal is coming from the leaders of our Senate’s intelligence committee, when former heads of the NSA, DHS, the CIA and more are all saying that we are more secure with strong encryption than without it, would be embarrassing if it weren’t so frightening.”

The FBI Have Started Briefing People About How They Broke Into The iPhone

After the recent court battle people, the FBI have been rather quiet regarding how they managed to get into an encrypted iPhone. That was until recently when the FBI started briefing senior officials about the methods they used, so it’s likely we won’t hear about it anytime soon.

The FBI have already given a briefing to senator Dianne Feinstein (Vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence) about the technique they used to get into the iPhone 5C. Although no real details were given, it would seem that this may be the first of many with senator Richard Burr (the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee) was also offered a briefing, something that he has not accepted yet.

Feinstein and Burr are currently supporting a bill that would see companies required to help the government gain access to encrypted technologies that companies create. This new bill would see Apple and other companies compelled to help bypass or remove encryption on their hardware and software, something which the White House has yet to support.

With the new bill in sight, Feinstein and Burr also believe that companies like Apple shouldn’t be informed about the techniques the FBI used to gain access to their device, with Feinstein saying, “I don’t believe the government has any obligation to Apple. No com­pany or in­di­vidu­al is above the law, and I’m dis­mayed that any­one would re­fuse to help the gov­ern­ment in a ma­jor ter­ror­ism in­vest­ig­a­tion.”.

With encryption now one of many technological advances that governments and law enforcement now struggle with dealing with, it should be interesting to see how governments address this and if they choose to work with or against companies in dealing with the dangers this technology possesses if used in the wrong hands.

WhatsApp Turns on Encryption for All Platforms

In a move that is sure to rile the FBI, following the law enforcement agency’s feud with Apple over its refusal to unlock the iPhone of a suspect in the San Bernardino shooting, instant messaging app WhatsApp has added end-to-end encryption to every iteration of its software on every platform, providing added security to an additional one billion users.

“Building secure products actually makes for a safer world, (though) many people in law enforcement may not agree with that,” WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton told WIRED.

“We’re somewhat lucky here in the United States, where we hope that the checks and balances hold out for many years to come and decades to come. But in a lot of countries you don’t have these checks and balances,” added Jan Koum, the second co-founder of the company. “The argument can be made: Maybe you want to trust the government, but you shouldn’t because you don’t know where things are going to go in the future.”

Mark Zuckerberg, Chief Executive of WhatsApp’s parent company Facebook, was a vocal supporter of Apple during its court struggle against the FBI. “We’re sympathetic with Apple,” Zuckerberg said during a technology conference in February. “I don’t think requiring back doors into encryption is either going to be an effective way to increase security or is really the right thing to do.”

FBI’s iPhone Breaking Trick Might Leak Soon

Everyone’s already aware that the FBI has recently closed its court case against Apple because they figured how to break into the locked iPhone with the help of an undisclosed party. However, even though the FBI is trying to keep the cracking method a secret for obvious reasons, chances are that this critical information will leak soon, especially since the agency has offered to help other authorities that are facing similar issues with locked phones in criminal cases. If a court were to force the FBI to disclose this information, defense attorneys would cross-examine all of the experts involved in the process, and the flaw would eventually be exposed. In that case, Apple would immediately move to fix the vulnerability and would likely announce it to its customers.

Moreover, if the FBI would choose to use the method on phones belonging to living criminals, defense attorneys would have a very good excuse to pry and ask for specifics. Then there’s the possibility that the tool’s creators could sell it to another party, in which case the likelihood of it to leak might increase quite a bit. Apple’s experts have stated that “flaws of this nature have a pretty short life cycle,” which means that we’re likely to find out exactly how the FBI cracked that iPhone very soon.

The FBI Are Already Helping Others Unlock iPhones

In the recent Apple vs the FBI case, the concern was raised about what would happen if the FBI managed to get Apple to unlock the device. People were worried that this one high-profile phone could open the floodgates to requests to unlock the hundreds of iPhones that are in police custody. Initially, we were told that this wouldn’t be the case but as events unfolded this clarification seemed to fade away and we were left with the answer we had expected from the start, an answer that seems to be confirmed by the FBI already helping others unlock iPhones.

In a letter to local authorities, the FBI promise that “we are in this together” and that they would help local authorities unlock iPhones and even iPods where they can legally. In fact, they already have, in a case for Arkansas prosecutors, the FBI have already agreed to unlock both an iPhone and an iPod.

It doesn’t stop there, according to the Washington post, the FBI are looking at if it would be possible to share the tool with local law enforcement. With the firm that helped the FBI create the tool charging only a one-time flat fee, the FBI could offer the tool as long as it retains its classified tool, an issue which has already hampered and raised issues with devices such as the Stingray.

The full letter can be found below courtesy of Buzzfeed:

Since recovering an iPhone from one of the San Bernardino shooters on December 3, 2015, the FBI sought methods to gain access to the data stored on it. As the FBI continued to conduct its own research, and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention generated by the litigation with Apple, others outside the U.S. government continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research. In mid-March, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking the iPhone. That method for unlocking that specific iPhone proved successful.

We know that the absence of lawful, critical investigative tools due to the “Going Dark” problem is a substantial state and local law enforcement challenge that you face daily. As has been our longstanding policy, the FBI will of course consider any tool that might be helpful to our partners. Please know that we will continue to do everything we can to help you consistent with our legal and policy constraints. You have our commitment that we will maintain an open dialogue with you. We are in this together.

Kerry Sleeper
Assistant Director
Office of Partner Engagement
FBI

FBI Reveals Reason for Asking Apple to Unlock Their iPhones

In the recent case of Apple vs the FBI, the FBI requested Apple’s assistance in unlocking an iPhone, a request that caused legal worries and issues for a number of technology companies. We may finally know the reason for why the FBI pushing so hard on Apple to unlock their iPhones.

In an email, it was revealed that the reason Apple needed to help the FBI was a little more personal than some might expect. The email reveals that James Comey, Director of the FBI , likes iPhones and is actually quite a big fan of Apple altogether, or, at least, was until he forgot his passcode.

After forgetting his passcode, Comey tried to recover access to his device by resetting the passcode and once that failed, by using his password to attempt to gain access. When all this failed, Comey had no option but to reach out for help to gain access to his phone.

With Apple refusing to unlock his iPhone the FBI were forced to use alternative means to gain access to the device, which turns out to be as simple as removing the battery and forcing a hard reset. Apple has since revealed that it fixed the problem in subsequent versions of the iPhone, but in a generation of secure devices being able to reset passwords by forcing a hard reset worrying, simply turning it off and back on again seems a little low-tech solution to a problem.

For more information you can read the full email here.

FBI Doesn’t Want To Tell How It Tracked People Across The Tor Network

The FBI are known for their digital prowess, although they may require some help when it comes to breaking into an iPhone. One of their most recent successes was the tracking of people using the Tor network, but after a judge ruled that the defendants representatives needed to know how he was identified the FBI has declined to say how they tracked people across the Tor network.

The ruling was provided by the Judge overlooking the case and was provided so that the defendants experts could check that the method used to identify the client was both within the FBI’s authority and also properly identified the client amongst the thousands of users of the Tor network.

The Tor network is a system (also known as the Onion Router) which people can use to hide their true identity by encrypting their traffic and bouncing it around the world in a series of steps. The network is also known for hiding a selection of “secret” websites that can only be accessed from within the network.

The FBI claim that they have already provided enough details for the defence to figure out if they went beyond their authority. FBI Agent Daniel Alfin, states in the court papers filed by the DOJ in the case, as saying “knowing how someone unlocked the front door provides no information about what that person did after entering the house”. While a valid argument, one would also argue that if someone breaks into your house, stealing something from your house and gaining access were both things you need to be made aware, not just one of the two.

Apple Vs The FBI is Over!

The legal case of the year is over already. Apple vs the FBI is over in a court case that saw the question of security vs privacy raised on a national, and even global, level. After cancelling a court hearing with Apple, the FBI have officially closed the court case.

It would seem that even without their assistance, the FBI claim to have managed to break into and access the data required on the iPhone in question. In their response, the FBI stated that the new hack was “sufficiently plausible” to a point where they could stop pursuing Apple’s assistance.

Currently, there is no information about who performed the hack or how many iPhones the hack works against. With so little information about the hack, it’s hard to tell if the court case could reemerge in the future with over a hundred phones in government control still locked.

In their response the Department of Justice reminded us that they would continue to gather information from encrypted devices, saying that “It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety”, and then there is a small reminder that with or without help, “either with cooperation from relevant parties or through the court system”.

Apple Designing Servers In-House to Prevent Snooping

With the amount of sensitive information stored on their servers, cloud providers take security very seriously. However, many cloud services actually use third-party servers like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure to run their platform. Even for those with their own servers, the hardware is made by and supplied by third-parties. In light of security concerns, Apple is taking it to the next level and designing their own servers.

Right now, Apple uses Amazon, Microsoft and Google servers to help run iCloud in addition to their own hardware. While it might seem prudent to do everything in-house to keep things secure, Apple wants their servers to be designed themselves. As we know from Edward Snowden’s revelations, the NSA, and probably other spy agencies are prone to intercepting hardware mid-shipment and tampering with the hardware.  Cisco for instance, has been one own past target and with Apple’s legal fight against the FBI, they may have been moved up the list.

By designing their own hardware, Apple will be able to make sure that everything is where it is supposed to be and no hardware has been added to it. With the massive scale of iCloud, Apple will be able to easily have whole manufacturing runs dedicated to them. Still, with their massive user base, running that many servers will be will a challenge for Apple. Nonetheless, Apple may soon get the total hardware control truly needed for true security.

FBI Calls Off Court Hearing With Apple Because They Might Have Another Solution

The battle between Apple and the FBI could soon be over with the FBI calling off a court hearing.

After several hearings with Congress, the story may finally be over with the latest meeting between Apple and the FBI being canceled after FBI received another party has come forward offering their support. In a document filing with the court the Department of Justice (DoJ) stated:

On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone. Testing is required to determine whether it is available method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. (“Apple”) set forthin the All Writs Act Order in this case.

As much as the FBI would love to think that they came up with the solution, but it was Snowden criticizing the FBI’s claims about unlocking the phone that seems to have been the tipping point. With numerous groups claiming to have ways to unlock the iPhone, the FBI pushing for Apple to create a way for them to unlock an iPhone has long been suspected of being an entry to the encrypted software.

If the FBI had this alternative available since the start, it would appear suspicions about the FBI using this an attempt to make future requests easier were true. If this is the case, trust in the FBI could be damaged even more with people questioning why the FBI wanted easy access to everyone’s iPhones.

FBI Warns That Cars Are Increasingly Vulnerable to Hacks

It’s no surprise that hackers have taken an interest in connected vehicles, but not everyone is actually aware of their cars’ vulnerabilities. That’s why the FBI has decided to make a public service announcement alongside the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in which it warns people of the dangers of hacking and tells them what they can do to protect themselves from these attacks. Interestingly enough, the announcement doesn’t come in the wake of some new discovery, which means that the agency probably should have issued it quite some time ago. In any case, it includes some pointers that can diminish the risk of being hacked, such as keeping the car’s software updated and making sure to verify the authenticity of various notifications.

Since a team of researchers managed to successfully demonstrate how to control a car’s critical functions using an insurance dongle last year, the FBI also informs about the dangers of connecting various third-party devices to your vehicles. The bulletin included these exact words:

“The FBI and NHTSA are warning the general public and manufacturers – of vehicles, vehicle components, and aftermarket devices – to maintain awareness of potential issues and cybersecurity threats related to connected vehicle technologies in modern vehicles. Modern motor vehicles often include new connected vehicle technologies that aim to provide benefits such as added safety features, improved fuel economy, and greater overall convenience. Aftermarket devices are also providing consumers with new features to monitor the status of their vehicles. However, with this increased connectivity, it is important that consumers and manufacturers maintain awareness of potential cyber security threats.”

Are you worried about potential hacking attempts on your vehicle?

Apple’s Tim Cook Describes FBI Fight as a “Bad Dream”

Apple CEO Tim Cook has spoken candidly to TIME about his on-going battle against the FBI – with the US law enforcement agency putting him and his company under immense pressure to bypass the iPhone encryption of San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook – comparing the ordeal to a “bad dream”. Cook also expressed his dismay that the US government should be the one to stand up for the civil liberties of US citizens, not him.

“I never expected to be in this position,” Cook confessed in the interview with TIME magazine. “The government should always be the one defending civil liberties. And there’s a role reversal here. I mean I still feel like I’m in another world a bit, that I’m in this bad dream in some wise.”

“But at the end of the day, we’re going to fight the good fight not only for our customers but for the country,” he said. “We’re in this bizarre position where we’re defending the civil liberties of the country against the government. Who would have ever thought this would happen?”

Cook took the opportunity to stress that, despite reluctance – “Fighting the government is not a thing we choose to do,” he laments – his fight against the FBI’s efforts to bypass Apple’s encryption will continue, because, “at the end of the day—and none of us would have been able to sleep at night” if Apple caved.

Image courtesy of Mashable.

FBI Hacking Case Judge Doesn’t Understand Computing

A US Judge, during a case regarding the FBI’s use of Network Investigative Technique (NIT) – effectively a form of hacking – was found to have little knowledge or understanding of the concepts being discussed.

During a hearing in Seattle on Friday (15th March), Judge Robert J. Bryan presided over the case of Jay Michaud, a public school administrator in Vancouver, Washington, who was charged with possession of child pornography. Michaud was caught in a sting operation by the FBI, during with the law enforcement agency seized a hidden Tor service called Playpen, hosted it from its own server, and used NIT to bypass the Tor encryption to obtain his real IP address. The use of NIT in the case is being contested.

During the hearing, Judge Bryan appeared confused as to how NIT works: “I am trying to understand,” he told the court. Below is a transcript from the hearing (via Vice Motherboard), during which Judge Bryan fails grasp how NIT is implemented:

Judge Bryan: “Do the FBI experts have any way to look at the NIT information other than going to the server?”

Colin Fieman (Michaud’s public defender): “Your Honor, they don’t go to the server.”

JB: “Where do they go? How do they get the information?”

CF: “They get it from Mr. Michaud’s computer.”

JB: “They don’t have his computer.”

CF: “That’s what the NIT is for.”

Struggling to wrap his head around NIT, Judge Bryan later said, “I suppose there is somebody sitting in a cubicle somewhere with a keyboard doing this stuff. I don’t know that. It may be they seed the clouds, and the clouds rain information. I don’t know.”

While, on the face of it, Judge Bryan’s comments are amusing – though, to be fair, the ideas being conveyed during the case can be impenetrable to people without an inclination toward technology and computing – it is worrying that someone without a grasp of the subject being discussed is then expected to make a ruling on the matter, and that Judge Bryan’s ignorance, though not necessarily his fault, does not automatically recuse him from presiding over the case.

Or, as Vice Motherboard puts it:

““If a smart federal judge still has trouble understanding after hours of expert testimony what is actually going on,” then the average judge signing warrant applications has little hope of truly understanding what the FBI is proposing, Nate Wessler, staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), told Motherboard in a phone interview.”

Image courtesy of HackRead.

Obama Weighs In On Apple Vs FBI

Recently the news has been flooded by the events of Apple and the FBI, both of whom are arguing in regards to encryption and companies being made to remove or bypass security features on government orders. Each side has arguments that are fair and it doesn’t look like the discussions will end anytime soon as each side makes point after point, for now though it would seem that President Obama weighs in with the FBI.

Answering a question in his keynote speech at the South by Southwest conference, President Obama started with “I can’t comment on that specific case” only to then follow-up by reminding people that law enforcement agencies can obtain a warrant then “rifle through your underwear to see if there’s evidence of wrongdoing”.

Obama carried on by saying that “we don’t want [the] government looking through phones willy-nilly”, a core concept at the heart of the Apple FBI argument, but re-enforced that we are looking at future where we will need “strong encryption” but in some cases, we may need to bypass that encryption. Raising the question around what would happen if we created technology that was so strongly encrypted, how would we catch people who are acting illegally.

Obama seems to be a fan of the master key scenario, in which a special key (or series of keys) could be used to gain access through robust encryption. In order to reduce the risk in this scenario though he would have the key “accessible by the smallest number of people possible for a subset of issues that we agree are important.”

Obama did accept that “how we design [such a system] is not something I have the expertise to do”, effectively stating that he wants to get support and backing from the companies that use this technology to help negotiate an acceptable answer for all to this solution.

Feds Tell Court Apple Creates Technology To Thwart iPhone Warrants

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is currently working with the FBI in a legal battle against technology giant Apple. After being told to help unlock an iPhone through a software modification, the company began to argue that they could not be made to bypass their own security features by use of an All Writs Act. The DOJ have now filed fresh claims that specifically say that Apple is creating technology to thwart iPhone warrants.

The Department of Justice filed a brief on Thursday stating that Apple had created technology to render search warrants useless because of a “deliberate marketing decision”. The result of this decision is the current legal battle between the FBI and Apple and the questions being asked in congress regarding privacy vs security.

The brief carries on to that the use of the All Writs Act ensures “that their lawful warrants were not thwarted by third parties like Apple”. The brief continues to say:

Apple deliberately raised technological barriers that now stand between a lawful warrant and an iPhone containing evidence related to the terrorist mass murder of 14 Americans. Apple alone can remove those barriers so that the FBI can search the phone, and it can do so without undue burden. Under those specific circumstances, Apple can be compelled to give aid. That is not lawless tyranny. Rather, it is ordered liberty vindicating the rule of law.

Given that it’s been pointed out by several other people could also hack the iPhone, and while they claim it could be done without undue burden (an argument Apple has used to say that it won’t do it because of the impact it would have on their business), we have already been told that there are hundreds of iPhones in criminal cases which the FBI “could” want to be unlocked. Security experts are already coming out speaking about this latest filing

Security experts are already coming out speaking about this latest information about a topic which seems to escalate with every passing day.

https://twitter.com/JZdziarski/status/708059202107928577?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

https://twitter.com/agcrocker/status/708034792026050561?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

France to Punish Companies for Refusing to Decrypt Devices

France has been keen on getting ahead of technology when it comes to their laws. From their environmental stances of requiring solar panels on their roofs to making sure that large companies like Facebook protect people’s data sufficiently. In light of recent security concerns though they have moved to punish companies for refusing to decrypt devices.

France recently looked into banning the anonymous network Tor and blocking Wifi during special situations. The latest step in security was to accept an amendment to a bill that would make companies like Apple, who are activly fighting the FBI on modifying their software to break into an iPhone, either pay a fine or face five years in jail if they refused  to hand over encrypted data.

While this is only the bills first reading, if the amendment went ahead companies may feel uneasy doing business in France for fear of either giving out personal information or face a fine. It should be noted though that while Amendment 90 is being considered, it could be worse with amendment 221 going so far as to increase the fine by over 5 times and requesting “all relevant” information, that means more than just the message they are looking for.

Amendment 51 went so far as to state that companies who refused to help authorities would be considered “accomplices to terrorism”, a far stretch from the truth by any imagination. With public support seeming to increase for Apple’s case in the US and companies and figures alike coming out in support of them, accepting such a controversial bill couldn’t help the French government when trying to enlist technology companies help.

Snowden Speaks Out Regarding FBI’s Claim It Needs Apple To Unlock iPhone

Apple is currently under a lot of pressure from the US government, with the FBI looking to “request” their help in unlocking an iPhone. The problem people find is that the FBI are requesting Apple do something that Apple are not comfortable with, and as a result, have been ordered to do so under a very old and rather vague act. One of the most famous faces regarding the US Governments digital behaviour,  Edward Snowden, has now spoken out regarding the FBI’s claim it needs Apple to unlock the iPhone in question.

Speaking at a Conference via Video chat, Snowden stated the while the FBI say they need Apple’s ‘exclusive technical means’ to unlock the iPhone in question, he believes that claim is nothing more than lies.

The reason he says the FBI’s claim is rubbish is simply because several people have come forward with alternative methods for the FBI to gain access to the phone. It should be noted that Apple has already said they would have handed over the data if the FBI hadn’t tried to reset the iCloud password for the iPhone.

With the alternative methods not being mentioned at the congressional hearing regarding the FBI’s case for bypassing Apple’s security features, it would appear to many that the FBI are looking for a precedent to force companies to unlock their devices, something which they originally stated would not happen (but now appears to be the case).

You can view the conversation on surveillance, democracy and civil society in which Snowden spoke below.

John McAfee Lied About Hacking San Bernardino iPhone

Serial fantasist John McAfee – who claimed last week that he could stage an Ocean’s Eleven-esque infiltration of the Pentagon – has admitted to lying about his ability to hack the encryption of an iPhone.

McAfee, speaking to Russia Today, CNN, and Business Insider last month, publicly offered his services to the FBI to hack the iPhone of San Bernardino shooting suspect Syed Rizwan Farook so that Apple –  which had refused an FBI court order to unlock the device – would not have its encryption compromised.

However, in a phone interview with The Daily Dot, McAfee has now admitted that he lied about his method of decrypting an iPhone – conceding that it would not work – in order to get, in his words, “get a s***load of public attention.” He does claim, however, that he has another, secret way of hacking an iPhone, but he’s not telling you, and he’ll take his ball home if you try to make him.

“By doing so, I knew that I would get a s***load of public attention, which I did,” McAfee revealed to The Daily Dot. “That video, on my YouTube account, it has 700,000 views. My point is to bring to the American public the problem that the FBI is trying to [fool] the American public. How am I going to do that, by just going off and saying it? No one is going to listen to that crap.”

“So I come up with something sensational,” he added. “Now, what I did not lie about was my ability to crack the iPhone. I can do it. It’s a piece of friggin’ cake. You could probably do it.”

When asked why he was even discussing the existence of his mysterious decryption wizardry, McAfee responded, “Because I’m assuming, because you kept on asking, that you aren’t going to publish it.” The Daily Dot explained that no such agreement had been made. McAfee subsequently hung up.

“The lie was an exaggeration of simplicity,” McAfee said in a text message after the interview. “As the Inverse article explained, it would have been impossible in the time allowed to explain the fullness of the truth. If you fault me for that, then you, and possibly your readers, will have been the only one on the planet to have done so.”

McAfee also said, “I apologize for my anger.” He added that it “seemed absurd to me to focus on a simplification of a technique, given the stakes at risk—a potentially Orwellian state initiated by the populace ignoring the truth of what the FBI is trying to do to us.”

The entirety of The Daily Dot’s interview with John McAfee can be heard below:

John McAfee Interview — The Daily Dot by William Turton

US Police Group: iPhone “Device of Choice” for Criminals

Three US police groups have filed a brief in court that Apple’s iPhone has become the “device of choice” for criminals, due to its strong encryption, and are aware of “numerous instances” in which suspects have switched from traditional “burner” phones to iPhones – though failed to provide any evidence of this claim – according to Vice News.

The brief does, though, cite the anecdotal tale of a New York jail inmate calling Apple’s smartphone “a gift from God” during a phonecall in 2015.

The filing, made by the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and two other groups, is part of the ongoing case regarding the FBI’s attempts to force Apple to decrypt the iPhone of a suspect in the San Bernardino shootings last year. So far, Apple CEO Tim Cook has refused to allow US law enforcement to bypass encryption on the iOS operating system. Cook has told the court that he will continue to resist the FBI’s court order, saying that it “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

“Opposing this order is not something we take lightly. We feel we must speak up in the face of what we see as an overreach by the US government,” Cook said. “We are challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.”

While the case continues, France has this week voted in a law designed to punish owners of security software for refusal to allow law enforcement to bypass encryption, Russia Today reports.

“Cyber Pathogen” Claims On Locked iPhone Made Up

The debate of privacy vs security is one that has lasted for hundreds of years, if not longer. With people claiming that while security is important, if that is compromised or done without checks, such as with the PRISM program, then our privacy means nothing to those who could abuse the system. Currently, Apple is debating this very same matter with the FBI in Congress, and it seems that one of the people who have come out in support of the FBI may have been using tall tales to back up his argument.

We’ve reported on Michael Ramos’s (a San Bernardino County District Attorney) claims that Apple must unlock the iPhone involved in the current case. His claims involved the fact that the phone, which was given to a county employee, had access to the San Bernardino infrastructure and could hold a “dormant cyber pathogen” which would be used to perform a terrorist attack on their infrastructure.

These claims were met with skepticism and some people even said it was like saying that you may find a “magic unicorn” on the iPhone. It now seems that even Ramos can’t hide from people as he has come out and told the Associated Press that he has no proof or knowledge that the phone could be used in that way.

In his response he states:

“This was a county employee that murdered 14 people and injured 22. Did he use the county’s infrastructure? Did he hack into that infrastructure? I don’t know. In order for me to really put that issue to rest, there is one piece of evidence that would absolutely let us know that, and that would be the iPhone.”

Jonathan Zdziarski commented on his personal blog about this response, talking about the original comments by explaining that “Ramos’s statements are not only misleading to the court, but amount to blatant fear mongering”.

It would seem like his original claims were just that, fear mongering, in the hopes of providing support to a personal point of view. The move seems to have backfired, offering only more fuel for the pro-encryption people backing Apple and their arguments that they need people who know about cyber-security making the decision.

Husband to San Bernadino Victim Backs Apple in iPhone Unlock Case

With the likes of Microsoft and Facebook supporting them, Apple is gearing up for their battle against the FBI over the iPhone unlock case from the San Bernadino shooting. In a surprise move, Apple has gained an unlikely and important supporter in their fight against the US government. In a letter filed with the court, Salihin Kondoker, an IT consultant whose wife was shot 3 times in the attack is backing Apple’s stance.

In his letter, Kondoker notes that he initially did not side with Apple but after learning more about the case, realized it there was more to it than simply unlocking one phone. He doesn’t believe that security is a worthwhile benefit for losing privacy and realizes the ramifications of Apple bending to the FBI’s will. Kondoker also notes as many other have, that the attacker’s work iPhone would be unlikely to contain any important information, as the county could have accessed it at any time prior to the attacks. Here are some excerpts from the letter.

When I first learned Apple was opposing the order I was frustrated that it would be yet another roadblock. But as I read more about their case, I have come to understand their fight is for something much bigger than one phone. They are worried that this software the government wants them to use will be used against millions of other innocent people. I share their fear.

I support Apple and the decision they have made. I don’t believe Tim Cook or any Apple employee believes in supporting terrorism any more than I do. I think the vicious attacks I’ve read in the media against one of America’s greatest companies are terrible.

Finally, and the reason for my letter to the court, I believe privacy is important and Apple should stay firm in their decision. Neither I, nor my wife, want to raise our children in a world where privacy is the tradeoff for security. I believe this case will have a huge impact all over the world.

You will have agencies coming from all over the world to get access to the software the FBI is asking Apple for. It will be abused all over to spy on innocent people.

America should be proud of Apple. Proud that it is an American company and we should protect them not try to tear them down.

In addition to Kondoker’s support, Apple has also been backed by the former heads of the NSA, the FBI, and Homeland Security, noting that the case is more complex than the FBI makes it out to be. They all warn against the loss of trust and privacy that would occur and that acting on fear and public opinion would lead down the wrong path.

Former Heads of NSA & Homeland Support Apple In Encryption Battle

In its recent arguments against the FBI, Apple has found companies rallying behind its arguments that you can’t force a company to break its own protection without risking others. Even Microsoft have come out saying that forcing Apple to do so would set a dangerous precedent for technology companies everywhere. Their latest support is a little bit different, with the former heads of the NSA and Homeland supporting encryption in this case.

Michael Chertoff was the head of Homeland Security and is one of the people who helped author the Patriot Act. Mike McConnell is the former head of the NSA and both of these people, former professionals within governments security sector, have come forward expressing support for encryption technologies.

In a panel, Chertoff stated that “if we [the people and governments] ask private sector to be in control of security, then we have to allow them to have tools to carry out that mission”. Chertoff then continued to say that trust is the fundamental basis of the “internet economic engine” and that “if we don’t come to an agreement with the majority of the world [around privacy] we could end up with multiple internets and lose the value of an interconnected world”.

McConnell on the other hand, suggested that a reasonable method to address the problem wouldn’t be the public flinging match that the FBI are keen to use to their advantage but instead to form “a legislatively direction commission of leading experts to have an informed dialog with all clearances to make reasonable recommendations”. He suggests that the public and even Congress don’t have the knowledge regarding cyber security matters to make an informed decision and that public opinions and fear could lead to decisions which will do nothing but harm companies government and people alike.