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.

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.

Say Hello to the Headphones That Know Who You Are

We’ve all heard that we need to improve our security. Remember your password? Are you absolutely certain you remember every single password you need to remember? How about your fingerprint? Sure someone can’t use playdough to trick your fingerprint sensor? What about headphones that know who you are?

While this may sound stupid the science behind the idea is sound. Every ear is unique, very much the same way we have unique fingerprints or eyes. By using the way sound resonated within your ear canal, the headphones create a unique sound, something that can be measured and compared.

Reported to have 99% accuracy and only taking a second to do the measurements needed, listening to all that music may actually help you unlock your phone. The system is praised by the general manager of NEC saying that as it doesn’t “require particular actions such as scanning a part of the body over an authentication device” it would enable “a natural way of conducting continuous authentication”.

This solution may be a few years out though with the company behind it, NEC, saying that they are looking to commercialize the system for the 2018 fiscal year. So looking forward to listening to music while you bank? Take your headphones out to talk to someone and your phone will start to doubt if you truly are who you say you are.

District Attorney Says Apple Must Unlock iPhone

Apple is currently in the midst of a legal battle against the FBI. The FBI requested Apple’s help in unlocking an iPhone by creating a modified piece of software that would allow them to effectively bypass the passcode system used to protect the phone’s contents. Currently, the two parties are in talks with congress regarding everything from privacy and company policy to the question of encryption. A district attorney has now come out and stated that Apple must unlock the iPhone.

Michael Ramos is a San Bernardino County District Attorney. Ramos has stated that Apple must unlock the iPhone based on the fact that “the seized iPhone may contain evidence that can only be found on the seized phone that it was used as a weapon to introduce a lying dormant cyber pathogen that endangers San Bernardino’s infrastructure”. Effectively, Ramos is claiming that because it connected to the county system it “could” have been used to attack the infrastructure of San Bernardino.

So far the county has done what it can to distance itself from this quote, saying that “The county didn’t have anything to do with this brief. It was filed by the district attorney.”

iPhone forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski was less than convinced by the demand, stating that “it offers no evidence whatsoever” and going so far to say “they are essentially saying that a magical unicorn might exist on this phone”.

With the arguments gaining attention every day from even more parties, it is no surprise that someone would come out and say something that without any proof can only be described as scaremongering the court’s decisions in favour of the FBI.

Apple Told All Writs Act Can’t Force Them To Unlock iPhone

Recently Apple has been involved in court battle after court battle, with the largest battle being the San Bernardino case against the FBI. In the case, the FBI are looking to use an 18th-century law, the All Writs Act, to get Apple to create some software  that would let them get passed the passcode. In a similar case, a judge has just made a ruling, something that makes it look like Apple may win their legal battle against the FBI.

In the case, the Drug Enforcement Agency had seized an iPhone and were looking to use the All Writs Act to unlock the iPhone, an iPhone 5. Just like in the San Bernardino case, Apple objected and argued that there are nine cases (now eleven) where the government are looking to gain access to iPhones.

Judge Orenstein looked at previous court decision and found that under the rule of three the All Writs Act couldn’t be applied. One of the rules for applying the All Writs Act was if the person/group had a connection to the case. In this instance, the judge decided that Apple, who are a private party with no connection the criminal activity, couldn’t be made to perform work against their will by the All Writs Act.

Judge Orenstein also warned against the use of the All Writs Act to create a precedent that would mean that companies like Apple would have to fulfill the government wishes, something the FBI are not looking for.

This could be the case Apple need to finally say to the FBI that their rights, and their company, can’t be forced to work for a cause that they have no link to. Given Apple’s response relied heavily on their amendment rights, it will be interesting to see how the FBI responds to this ruling.

New Mortal Kombat Secrets Revealed After 20-Years!

There are many types of gamers, you have the speed runners who have to rush to complete every level improving their time with every breath they take. You have the fighters, the ones who will play online for hours and hours, finding more and more worthy foes as they topple countries and players alike. Then you get the completionist, they are driven to find every secret and every unlockable. From flushing a toy down a toilet in a horror game to games hidden in the latest hardware, they are able to find miracles and jokes alike. A series you might not expect to contain many secrets is Mortal Kombat.

Hidden within the first three games of the brutal fighting game, you can access the secret “ed boon” menu’s. The reason for this title is quite simply in that Ed Boon actually programmed in the secret menus, which were only discovered within the last few days. If this wasn’t enough, the menu’s show you options that include everything from changing names on leaderboards (best not use that in competitions), the characters different endings and in Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 you can even unlock the hidden characters, see the fatalities available and even a secret “Galaga” like game.

In order to get to the menu you need to be pretty quick on the buttons and we recommend you check out the video below to find those secrets.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WK1Ec-KVVQ

Apple To Fight Government On Creating iPhone Backdoor

We reported earlier that Apple had been ordered to not unlock a phone, something they have constantly stated they could not do, but instead create the means for the government to access it. It would seem Apple were as happy to hear about this as we were and are looking to fight them about creating a backdoor into their iPhones.

In our story so far, Apple are not unknown for facing court trials that have tried to make them unlock an iPhone, even after cases have ended. The latest court case tried to do just that, but instead of asking for a way to the phone, Judge Sheri Pym has used the All Writs Act to demand that Apple creates a backdoor to enable the FBI to unlock the iPhone in a court case. The All Writs Act is an 18th-century piece of legislation which says if the government asks you to jump, you jump.

In Tom Cook’s letter to their customers, he clearly expresses what they are asking for and why he believes it is outrageous that they can do this. Before we see his response though the following extract from the court order shows just what they are requesting.

“Apple’s reasonable technical assistance shall accomplish the following three important functions: (1) it will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled; (2) it will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT and (3) it will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.”

What they end up saying is that Apple will have to remove the passcodes that protect the iPhone, enabling the FBI to try every single passcode possible. This is often known as a “brute force hack”, a method where every possible combination is used in order to try gain access to something, similar to how you could spin the dials on a combination lock to open up your luggage on holiday.

Tom Cook’s understanding of it is that the FBI want them to create a new version of their iOS for the phone, bypassing all their security features when it was installed on to the phone. While they say it will only be used in this one case, Cook explains that this cannot be guaranteed and would only seek to put more iPhones at risk.

With the request essentially being an order it’s being called a “frightful precedent” that a judge could request the removal of key security features. Given their history with hacking, it may come as no surprise that people aren’t too keen to give the keys to the kingdom to government agencies.

Apple Ordered To Unlock iPhone

Apple is known for their court battles, after having the latest revelation reveal an agreement with Google. One of the things Apple is keen to go to court for is the encryption on smartphones, and they have now been told they must help unlock an iPhone by a judge.

The iPhone in question is a 5C running iOS9, it belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, who attacked an office party in December 2015 in a terrorist attack. The judge presiding over the case,  Sheri Pym, cited the all writs act and ordered Apple to provide the FBI with a custom firmware file that will enable them to brute force the passcode lockout that is currently on the phone.

Since iOS 8, Apple has made it so that it enabled full encryption by default, meaning that the company cannot be forced to extract data or grant access. Likewise, it is not the first time that the all writs act has come out in court against Apple. The 18th-century act makes it that a company or person must assist the government in that way, and is seen as a dangerous precedent for the future. After being asked for what is essentially custom software to disable the protection on a smartphone, what’s to stop Facebook or other companies being forced to provide agencies with access? There is no point in security if it only applies to certain people while others can keep trying over and over again without any risk of alerting or being locked out an account.

This is a scary way around the “we can unlock this device” answer, and if using an 18th-century act in such a way is allowed, then anyone could be “ordered” to provide back doors or restrict security measures so that their protection can be forced open.

iPhone Unlock Perused After Defendant Pleads Guilty

In recent years, technology has evolved in such a way that the law is often trying to catch up with the technology that comes out. In the last few months, technology companies have come to odds with the government regarding a range of topics but none more so than encryption.
Encryption is the process of messing up information in a logical way so if you just so happen to bump into it (or catch it on purpose), unless you were meant to read it you are unable to (or at least find it difficult). Apple has recently come at odds with the U.S. government as they have been asked to unlock (effectively disabling the protection and encryption on) an iPhone. The case just got more interesting though with them claiming that they should still unlock the phone after the defendant pleaded guilty.

The government quoted a law written in the 18th Century called the All Writs Act. A writ is essentially an order for a company or person to perform an action, and its use has displeased many people, with Ken Dreifach (the attorney representing Apple) clarifying why this is a worrying use of an old power,

“The government could seemingly co-opt any private company it wanted to provide services in support of law enforcement activity, as long as the underlying activity was authorized by a warrant. The All Writs Act does not confer such limitless authority.”

Even though the defendant, Jun Feng, has since pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to distribute and possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, the prosecutors are still requesting that Apple unlock the phone just in case it contains information that could help other “ongoing” cases. The iPhone in question is running iOS7, as of iOS 8 Apple have enabled full encryption in an act it has stated would prevent them from complying with such orders.

Do you think Apple should unlock the phone? Should companies be forced to perform any action they can at the request of a court?

New Utility lets you Unlock Disabled Compute Engines on AMD GPUs

A new utility has emerged, entitled, “CUINFO” on Overclock.net which outlines how many compute units are enabled on Fiji, Hawaii and Tonga GPUs. The tool is designed to provide information on your card’s capabilities and offer the ability to unlock specific disabled compute units. However, many CUs are hardware locked and cannot be enabled using this software. According to VideoCardz, if the hardware message resembles the text below, you cannot perform a manual unlock or overriding might cause some kind of component failure:

Adapters detected: 1
Card #1 PCI ID: 1002:7300 – 174B:E329
DevID [7300] Rev [CB] (0), memory config: 0x00000000 (unused)
Fiji-class chip with 16 compute units per Shader Engine
SE1 hw/sw: 00030000 / 00000000 […………..xx]
SE2 hw/sw: 02400000 / 00000000 [……x..x……]
SE3 hw/sw: 90000000 / 00000000 [x..x…………]
SE4 hw/sw: 00090000 / 00000000 […………x..x]
56 of 64 CUs are active. HW locks: 8 (R/W) / SW locks: 0 (R/W).
8 CU’s are disabled by HW lock, override is possible at your own risk.

The developer of this tweak, who goes by the name of TX12, said:

“In general, you can try to unlock some cores ONLY if you have at least one of the two rightmost columns filled with ‘x’-es.”

“On this example map, rightmost column (#1) is filled with ‘x’-es only, but second (#2) is not.”

“If none of the two rightmost columns is filled with ‘x’, you’re most probably out of luck and shouldn’t try this unlock method.”

“Or just try all the roms to catch some luck (not recommended).”

TX12 explained the entire process in a lengthy forum post and is available here. Interestingly, he created a script which creates three unique ROMs, and one of these called ALL will instigate the entirety of Fuji’s cores. Although, this hasn’t been achieved as of yet.

Preliminary benchmarks indicate a clear increase in graphical horsepower after applying the tool.

Please note that this doesn’t mean your card will be compatible and you should proceed with caution.

Thank you Video Cardz for providing us with this information.

You Can Now Use Your Hyundai Car Features From Your Apple Watch

Hyundai is keeping up with the times and trying to make your car interaction experiences more impressive than ever. Earlier this year, it launched the Android counterpart, allowing users to interact with their Hyundai cars from Android devices. Now the company has shifted its focus on the latest gadget on the market, namely the Apple Watch.

Hyundai launched the Blue Link car platform on the App Store, offering all features previously showcased in the Android version. Therefore, you can start and stop the engine with just a tap, remotely lock the car’s doors and even find your car on the map. The latter are just a few examples of what the Blue Link app allows you to do, but the best part of it is the Siri integration, where you are able to interact with your car through voice commands.

Hyundai’s Blue Link app for iOS is said to be compatible with all of its cars that have the Blue Link feature. However, the approach is not that uncommon. BMW has a similar app called BMW Remote App that lets you pretty much do the same things Hyundai’s app does, while Volkswagen and Porsche apps are also available for you to make the most out of your driving experience.

The question here is, will you as a driver prefer to interact with your car from your watch or through voice commands, or do you prefer to just keep your keys in your pocket as usual?

Thank you TheVerge for providing us with this information

Image courtesy of RushLane

Batman Arkham Knight Mod Adds More Playable Characters

Batman: Arkham Knight has only been out for a short time and while the PC port has a had a really shaky start that isn’t stopping modders from tinkering with the game. A modder has gone out of his way to make more playable characters for the free roaming parts of the game ranging from Joker to Harley Quin and a very wide selection of characters; the mod seems to cover just about every other major character in the game allowing batman fans to soar the Gotham skies as their favourite hero or villain.

The video showcases all the available characters to play with and to show off that they work with the animations and have all their correct move sets.

This is possibly one the most awesome first mods to be added to the game as the vanilla game lacks riddler challenges; a mode where you select a character and skin and choose a map to fight enemies till you drop or to stealthily take out foes. This can definitely add more life to the game once the player has beaten the main campaign; a must for those that wish to fight crime as the boy wonder or for those that wish to play the role of a villain and decimate enemies in the streets.

Hopefully, we can see some classic bat mobiles imported into the game next! Are you going to try this mod out?

Thank you PCGamesN for providing us with this information

Unlock All Steam Trading Cards in 2 Minutes?

Someone wrote to eTeknix today with information regarding a tutorial that claims to allow you to unlock every single Steam trading card for each of your games in just 2 minutes.

A guy who goes by the name of BigC90210 who belongs to ‘Northern Gamers UK’ has created a video that supposedly shows him unlocking every single trading card for all of his Steam games.

He says that by using a piece of software from GitHub called ‘idlemaster’ and by performing a few tricks, you can essentially get all your cards with no effort at all. Apparently, the program “uses a token” which connects to your account via a web browser and dupes the server into believing you’ve unlocked all of your cards.

A number of commenters beneath his video claim to have had success, with one or two who haven’t. Though, if it does work, and Valve find out about this, I guess it won’t be around much longer.

Source: YouTube

Motorola Touchless Control App Can Unlock Your Phone By Speaking Out Your PIN

Have you ever wanted a device that will listen to you even when it is locked? There are times when your phone’s voice commands are useless as you still have to unlock your device before using them, and that is not at all possible if you are doing something that requires both of your hands. But look no further, because apparently Motorola has recently introduced a new update to its Touchless Control app over on Google Play, which would ensure that your smartphone will be more versatile even when it is in a locked state, as extra Google Now commands should now be able to jive with your smartphone when it is idle and locked.

You will be able to unlock your PIN simply by speaking it out, and Touchless Control will do all the rest. A new tone is also introduced when you say “OK Google Now.” Apparently, this particular update does seem to be made available only to devices that have Android 4.4 KitKat as the operating system of choice, which pretty much rules out the recent DROID family, at least until Motorola and Verizon do something to remedy that situation soon.

Unlocking your phone using your PIN is not really practical, especially in a crowded place. I mean you have a PIN for a reason, otherwise you would just say something like “Phone Unlock”. We hope that Motorola will update the feature soon and maybe add a feature to unlock the phone with a specific phrase rather than use your PIN.

Thank you Uborgizmo for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of Uborgizmo