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Police asking Apple to decrypt seized iPhones must wait their turn

post #1 of 61
Thread Starter 
Apple is inundated with so many requests from law enforcement agencies to decrypt seized iPhones that officials must endure a waiting list before their case is handled.

The waiting list was revealed in a judge's recent court decision that was spotted by CNet and highlighted on Friday. U.S. District Judge Karen Caldwell revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives had contacted Apple for assistance in decrypting a particular seized iPhone, but the agency was placed on a waiting list.

ATF


An ATF agent turned to Apple for help after discovering that the agency "did not have the forensic capability" to decrypt the phone. Once the agent reached out to Apple, they were told it would be a wait of at least 7 weeks before the case could be addressed.

Law enforcement agencies are attempting to bypass Apple's security in order to gather evidence that can be used to charge suspected criminals. But because they're unable to break Apple's encryption, agencies are forced to seek assistance from the iPhone maker.

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration also issued a memo last month calling Apple's iMessages platform a "challenge" to intercept. DEA officials attempting to tap into suspects' text messages have run into problems with iPhone-to-iPhone iMessages, which are securely encrypted.

Apple's strength of security has iOS on track to gain security clearance from the Department of Defense. Specifically, iOS 6 is expected to gain approval for use among Pentagon employees.
post #2 of 61
Sounds like a catch-22. Federal departments won't use the iPhone unless it has good security, but yet, other Federal departments are having problems breaking that security because criminals use it.
post #3 of 61
Why can't they use an external program like iExplorer to access the iPhone's file system?
post #4 of 61

It really does speak to the inherent value of the produce, whether it be hardware or software.

post #5 of 61

Hopefully Apple is billing the various agencies for each case. Why should Apple be doing the police's work for them for free? And I also read that Apple delivers the results on a USB thumb drive. Apple should be making money off of each police request and charging appropriately. Apple should be making a reasonable profit margin on each request.

 

It's good that the DEA has a hard time tapping into suspect's messages, as this proves that iPhone to iPhone messages are very secure. 

 

In the future, people should be able to buy weed directly from within an app, with one click and zero hassle. The DEA is wasting their time and wasting our tax payer money. Hopefully they will have to wait a lot longer than 7 weeks for each request. The DEA should be downsized or dismantled completely. Talk about a useless and worthless job.

post #6 of 61
And who pays for Apple employees to handle this huge task? Law enforcement agencies? Or are there laws that make Apple responsible for providing them this service "for free"?
post #7 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Negafox View Post

Why can't they use an external program like iExplorer to access the iPhone's file system?

 

Do those programs work without a password?

post #8 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Hopefully Apple is billing the various agencies for each case. Why should Apple be doing the police's work for them for free? And I also read that Apple delivers the results on a USB thumb drive. Apple should be making money off of each police request and charging appropriately. Apple should be making a reasonable profit margin on each request.

 

It's good that the DEA has a hard time tapping into suspect's messages, as this proves that iPhone to iPhone messages are very secure. 

 

In the future, people should be able to buy weed directly from within an app, with one click and zero hassle. The DEA is wasting their time and wasting our tax payer money. Hopefully they will have to wait a lot longer than 7 weeks for each request. The DEA should be downsized or dismantled completely. Talk about a useless and worthless job.

 

Wow - so it is a waste of tax payer money for the DEA to stop criminals from profiting off illegal drugs but you are perfectly okay with a waste of tax payer money by the BATFE to decrypt cell phones to stop criminals from profiting off their illegal actives. What a weird and wonderful world you must live in.

 

I wonder if the 7 week wait is an actual backlog of 7 weeks - or maybe just a generic answer - or perhaps something else, perhaps along the lines of Apple's legal department spending some time to ensure there are no legal repercussions to Apple for doing so. 

 

Also - where in the article does it say that Apple provides this service at no charge to law enforcement? and if they do it should be useful to Apple to test various methods of decryption and to use that info to make the device even more secure in the future. 

post #9 of 61

How do I encrypt my iPhone?

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post #10 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post

Sounds like a catch-22. Federal departments won't use the iPhone unless it has good security, but yet, other Federal departments are having problems breaking that security because criminals use it.

I could be wrong, but I don't think that's a catch-22.  Doesn't a catch-22 mean that there are contradictory constraints?  One federal department (the ATF) not being able to break the security on an iPhone has nothing to do with another federal department (the DoD) using the phone.

post #11 of 61

Quote:
Originally Posted by Negafox View Post

Why can't they use an external program like iExplorer to access the iPhone's file system?

 

 

The problem I think is not accessing the data but decrypting it.

post #12 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by obsrvr View Post

And who pays for Apple employees to handle this huge task? Law enforcement agencies? Or are there laws that make Apple responsible for providing them this service "for free"?

 

Apple is entitled to charge for the service. There is a large industry of computer forensics companies that are supported by law enforcement.

post #13 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

 

Wow - so it is a waste of tax payer money for the DEA to stop criminals from profiting off illegal drugs but you are perfectly okay with a waste of tax payer money by the BATFE to decrypt cell phones to stop criminals from profiting off their illegal actives. What a weird and wonderful world you must live in.

 

I wonder if the 7 week wait is an actual backlog of 7 weeks - or maybe just a generic answer - or perhaps something else, perhaps along the lines of Apple's legal department spending some time to ensure there are no legal repercussions to Apple for doing so. 

 

Also - where in the article does it say that Apple provides this service at no charge to law enforcement? and if they do it should be useful to Apple to test various methods of decryption and to use that info to make the device even more secure in the future. 

 

I didn't mention anything about the BATFE, though I am able recognize the difference between somebody transporting illegal firearms and somebody else who is in possession of a harmless plant.

 

As for what Apple charges, you're right, it doesn't say anything about that at all in the article, and that is exactly why I wrote that I sure hope that Apple is getting paid for it's services rendered to law enforcement. 

post #14 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

I wonder if the 7 week wait is an actual backlog of 7 weeks ...

The service probably takes between 10 minutes and 7 weeks depending on the nature of the crime.

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post #15 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by tookieman2013 View Post

It really does speak to the inherent value of the produce, whether it be hardware or software.

I consider all produce to be software, except maybe for carrots and coconuts.
post #16 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrbofus View Post

I could be wrong, but I don't think that's a catch-22.  Doesn't a catch-22 mean that there are contradictory constraints?  One federal department (the ATF) not being able to break the security on an iPhone has nothing to do with another federal department (the DoD) using the phone.

 

It is a Catch-22 if you view it from the position of "the government" (overall).  

post #17 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Leonard View Post

Sounds like a catch-22. Federal departments won't use the iPhone unless it has good security, but yet, other Federal departments are having problems breaking that security because criminals use it.

 

Not a catch-22, but it is ironic.

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #18 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gazoobee View Post

 

It is a Catch-22 if you view it from the position of "the government" (overall).  

 

Not really. They just make it illegal for civilians to own that technology. Look at guns, technologies like night vision and spy satellites, and in the past encryption (clipper chip).

post #19 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Negafox View Post

Why can't they use an external program like iExplorer to access the iPhone's file system?

 

There problem isn't being able to access the data, it's being able to decrypt it - when you activate the "device lock" feature, all data is encrypted on the fly.

Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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Disclaimer: The things I say are merely my own personal opinion and may or may not be based on facts. At certain points in any discussion, sarcasm may ensue.
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post #20 of 61
A 7 week delay of habeas corpus would suck if one is innocent.
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post #21 of 61

It's worth remembering that the cops (especially government cops like the DEA) just think that they should be able to view everything on everyone's phone or laptop once that person has done anything to put them "under suspicion."  

So in fact, a lot of those requests are going to be of the type where some poor sucker has been arrested, and they just want to look at everything on his phone so they can track down all the accomplices, etc.  It's not really a case of them actually knowing there is anything of probative value on the phone, more that they just want to invade the privacy of the person they just arrested as they typically would do, because, you know, criminals and "bad guys" have no rights. Unfortunately the iPhone stymies them.  

 

Also, to those commenting about "stop(ing) criminals profiting from illegal drugs" … go get your head examined.  "Illegal Drugs" are not really a problem, just the crime created by the fact that they are illegal.  America has the most backward policy towards "illegal drugs" on the planet, and the what the DEA does on a daily basis today will likely look very similar to a Klu Klux Klan rally to our children.  It's actually the cops that are the "bad guys" in this war. 

post #22 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post


As for what Apple charges, you're right, it doesn't say anything about that at all in the article, and that is exactly why I wrote that I sure hope that Apple is getting paid for it's services rendered to law enforcement. 

You do realize that tax payers would be footing the bill.
post #23 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by jungmark View Post


You do realize that tax payers would be footing the bill.

Yes of course I do.

post #24 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

Hopefully Apple is billing the various agencies for each case. Why should Apple be doing the police's work for them for free? And I also read that Apple delivers the results on a USB thumb drive. Apple should be making money off of each police request and charging appropriately. Apple should be making a reasonable profit margin on each request.

It's good that the DEA has a hard time tapping into suspect's messages, as this proves that iPhone to iPhone messages are very secure. 

In the future, people should be able to buy weed directly from within an app, with one click and zero hassle. The DEA is wasting their time and wasting our tax payer money. Hopefully they will have to wait a lot longer than 7 weeks for each request. The DEA should be downsized or dismantled completely. Talk about a useless and worthless job.


To your question why should apple pay to decrypt the phones? Because its the right thing for a company to do that is making 13 billion. What is 5 million to ensure public safety?


As far as drugs being legal, you need to consider. Can we afford the increased health costs, the increased addicted, as far as the economy goes, parasites.
It's estimated the amount of people that are addicted (also don't work, steal, worthless from an economy stand point) will at least double, pay for that in your own dollar.
post #25 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seankill View Post


To your question why should apple pay to decrypt the phones? Because its the right thing for a company to do that is making 13 billion. What is 5 million to ensure public safety?


As far as drugs being legal, you need to consider. Can we afford the increased health costs, the increased addicted, as far as the economy goes, parasites.
It's estimated the amount of people that are addicted (also don't work, steal, worthless from an economy stand point) will at least double, pay for that in your own dollar.

 

I don't think that the size of Apple's piggybank is of any relevance to the topic, and I don't believe that Apple should be providing services to any government agencies for free. 

 

Health care is already a mess and is only going to get much worse and more expensive, thanks to certain health care legislation which I shall not name here. The money already spent and wasted on fighting the "drug war" is astronomical and huge. The government is not at all concerned about saving money.

post #26 of 61
The concern, it seems, is that anyone other than the owner would have the keys to 'Decrypt' an encrypted iPhone. If I encrypted my phone I really don't think I would mean to "protect it from everyone except Apple". Why does Apple have a back door? Seems like that's a glaring problem with the entire notion of iPhone encryption.
post #27 of 61
The remote erase capability of the iPhone is, I believe, based on the use of a strongly encrypted filesystem on the device. If the phone erases the encryption key, then all the data is permanently unreadable. If the criminals have used the remote wipe capability, then Apple can't recover the data. Period.

If they just need to get past a pass lock, where the user has to type a code in to use the phone, and the encryption key is still stored somewhere on the device, then with some amount of hardware hacking Apple could get at the data. But this requires opening up the device, unless the phone is on a version of iOS where there is a known hack for getting around the pass lock. Or unless Apple has some sort of backdoor way of getting past the pass lock.
post #28 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by Seankill View Post


To your question why should apple pay to decrypt the phones? Because its the right thing for a company to do that is making 13 billion. What is 5 million to ensure public safety?
 

 

The problem is if it was free, then law enforcement would abuse it. Anytime they saw a iPhone they'd send it in to Apple. Ultimately the costs would be passed on consumers who didn't commit crimes.

 

And the costs, I guarantee you, are much higher than $5 million. It is probably around $2-5K per phone. Work done by a certified forensic examiner is around $300-400 an hour. This is because Apple needs to follow very strict procedures to ensure evidence is not tampered with, or overlooked. Lawyers will have to vet and oversee the process. Ultimately their procedures and the people involved will have to be questioned in a court of law. Any little mistake or omission can lead to critical evidence being thrown out.

post #29 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by SGS46 View Post

The concern, it seems, is that anyone other than the owner would have the keys to 'Decrypt' an encrypted iPhone. If I encrypted my phone I really don't think I would mean to "protect it from everyone except Apple". Why does Apple have a back door? Seems like that's a glaring problem with the entire notion of iPhone encryption.

 

Did you use a PIN on your phone? No password on your phone at all? Then you can easily brute force it.

 

What you have to realize is that if the cops get a hold of a phone, they cannot turn it on, because that can destroy critical evidence. They need to be able to make a copy of the data without booting the OS, then try all 10k pins, and only Apple can do this properly.

post #30 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by SGS46 View Post

The concern, it seems, is that anyone other than the owner would have the keys to 'Decrypt' an encrypted iPhone. If I encrypted my phone I really don't think I would mean to "protect it from everyone except Apple". Why does Apple have a back door? Seems like that's a glaring problem with the entire notion of iPhone encryption.

In a sense they do have a back door because they wrote the software so they know how the passcode are encoded and where. And so they would know if there was a way to pull the info off say by copying that bit of data to the area of a computer that is storing it so that it can still back up a phone even if you forget the passcode (so long as it isn't disabled) because it was previously linked to the phone. If you could mock that key you could back up the phone, restore it to a blank phone and have at a lot of info.
post #31 of 61
Yes Apple should do it FREE and made to do it faster. They receive major tax breaks and take advantage of loopholes. When it comes to solving crimes they want us to pay again!? NO!
post #32 of 61
My first thought was: is Apple encryption that strong or is law enforcement that weak?
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post #33 of 61
My first thought was: is Apple encryption that strong or is law enforcement that weak?
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post #34 of 61

It would be politically unwise of Apple to be uncooperative with law enforcement.  Charging too much or even at all might create backlash in congress.  Particularly from the law and order types.

post #35 of 61

http://mobileforensics.com

 

Says data acquisition is provided for 4000+ mobile phones including iPhones with their Secure View software

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post #36 of 61
N
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

How do I encrypt my iPhone?
Not sure if you are kidding or not.. But assuming you aren't: turn on the pass code requirement and make it at least 6 characters, but the more there are the better.
Done.
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post #37 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgto64 View Post

 

Wow - so it is a waste of tax payer money for the DEA to stop criminals from profiting off illegal drugs...

 

 

What, so like the money Google made from illegal drugs imported from Canada?

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post #38 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

How do I encrypt my iPhone?

password lock it

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post #39 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

 

Not really. They just make it illegal for civilians to own that technology. Look at guns, technologies like night vision and spy satellites, and in the past encryption (clipper chip).

 

Actually it has moved on to CAD templates of guns for 3D printers, the US Government stepped in just the other day.

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post #40 of 61
Quote:
Originally Posted by konqerror View Post

 

Did you use a PIN on your phone? No password on your phone at all? Then you can easily brute force it.

 

What you have to realize is that if the cops get a hold of a phone, they cannot turn it on, because that can destroy critical evidence. They need to be able to make a copy of the data without booting the OS, then try all 10k pins, and only Apple can do this properly.

 

10,000 pins only if "Simple Passcode" is enabled, flick that little switch and things just got a whole lot harder, then you can set the iOS device to wipe itself after "X" attempts.

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