Craig Federighi: Security is an endless race, but the FBI wants to roll it back to 2013

Posted:
in iPhone edited March 2016
Apple's head of software engineering Craig Federighi published an opinion in the Washington Post today that clarified the company's reasoning behind refusing to weaken its products to appease a very public demand from the FBI.


Apple's vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi


Federighi emphasized that the security Apple has designed into its platforms is a continuous effort "to stay one step ahead of criminal attackers who seek to pry into personal information and even co-opt devices to commit broader assaults that endanger us all."

He noted that in just the last year and a half, criminals have attacked retailers, banks and even the federal government, stealing "credit card information, Social Security numbers and fingerprint records of millions of people."

"The encryption technology built into today's iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers," Federighi wrote. "And cryptographic protections on the device don't just help prevent unauthorized access to your personal data -- they're also a critical line of defense against criminals who seek to implant malware or spyware and to use the device of an unsuspecting person to gain access to a business, public utility or government agency.""That's why it's so disappointing that the FBI, Justice Department and others in law enforcement are pressing us to turn back the clock to a less-secure time and less-secure technologies" - Craig Federighi

Any weaknesses found must be addressed "to keep customers safe," he continued, before noting, "That's why it's so disappointing that the FBI, Justice Department and others in law enforcement are pressing us to turn back the clock to a less-secure time and less-secure technologies."

He added, "to get around Apple's safeguards, the FBI wants us to create a backdoor in the form of special software that bypasses passcode protections, intentionally creating a vulnerability that would let the government force its way into an iPhone. Once created, this software -- which law enforcement has conceded it wants to apply to many iPhones -- would become a weakness that hackers and criminals could use to wreak havoc on the privacy and personal safety of us all."

Federighi concluded, "Security is an endless race -- one that you can lead but never decisively win. Yesterday's best defenses cannot fend off the attacks of today or tomorrow. Software innovations of the future will depend on the foundation of strong device security. We cannot afford to fall behind those who would exploit technology in order to cause chaos. To slow our pace, or reverse our progress, puts everyone at risk."

Law enforcement praised Apple's iOS Activation Lock



One issue Federighi didn't directly touch on is the fact that beginning in 2013, federal agencies and local law enforcement were praising Apple for its work in developing Activation Lock, a technology rooted in boot level OS security and device encryption that makes stolen phones difficult or impossible to reactivate without the user's credentials.

That advance in iOS security resulted in a dramatic drop in iPhone thefts and the related violent crime epidemic that had been erupting in association with iPhone muggings from San Francisco to New York City to London.

In 2014 and again last year, law enforcement groups pointed to significant drops in violent crime statistics directly related to the strong security employed in iOS Activation Lock--25 percent in New York, and 40 percent in San Francisco.

Police in New York City were actively encouraging users to upgrade their iPhone software to take advantage of the increased security (below), which has been regularly enhanced with each major release since then.

NYPD law enforcement iPhone encryption


Apple has stated that it plans to continue to enhance iOS security, a subject that may complicate some law enforcement efforts to obtain data associated with criminals, but which also protects far more victims from violent crime--and from identity theft and other digital attacks--in addition to device surveillance by extremist governments and terrorist groups.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 22
    A the very least, your phone's data should be secure unless the phone is physically disassembled.
    steveh
  • Reply 2 of 22
    jkichlinejkichline Posts: 1,335member
    The FBI has their head stuck in their own sandbox, and like any government agency, is trying its darnedest to little to no work for their mediocrity.
    lolliverlostkiwi
  • Reply 3 of 22
    postmanpostman Posts: 35member
    "In 2014 and again last year, law enforcement groups pointed to significant drops in violent crime statistics directly related to the strong security employed in iOS Activation Lock—25 percent in New York, and 40 percent in San Francisco. Police in New York City were actively encouraging users to upgrade their iPhone software to take advantage of the increased security (below), which has been regularly enhanced with each major release since then." 

    Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. - and F.B.I. Director James Comey - are f**king liars and hypocrites.
    edited March 2016 latifbplolliverbadmonkewtheckmanjony0
  • Reply 4 of 22
    freerangefreerange Posts: 1,587member
    Comey & Vance - go fk yourselves! You can't have your cake and eat it too. Do your fk'n jobs with the resources you have! Like what you had to do BEFORE smartphones! Your job descriptions haven't changed.
    badmonklatifbp
  • Reply 5 of 22
    mdriftmeyermdriftmeyer Posts: 7,264member
    Three days ago, I posted a notice to friends about getting iOS 9.2 override while on a long walk. The audio shut off, checked the phone half expecting some series of notifications only to receive a notice the phone was inaccessible for the next minute. Hit the slider to unlock and received the Phone Interface with Russian language on top. Powered down the phone, rebooted and went on with my day. Thats the first ever phishing expedition I've experienced with iOS. I mention this in case you get it [I'm on Verizon] in the future. Also, because Craig is correct. It is a never ending moving target.
    badmonklatifbppscooter63
  • Reply 6 of 22
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,976member
    Three days ago, I posted a notice to friends about getting iOS 9.2 override while on a long walk. The audio shut off, checked the phone half expecting some series of notifications only to receive a notice the phone was inaccessible for the next minute. Hit the slider to unlock and received the Phone Interface with Russian language on top. Powered down the phone, rebooted and went on with my day. Thats the first ever phishing expedition I've experienced with iOS. I mention this in case you get it [I'm on Verizon] in the future. Also, because Craig is correct. It is a never ending moving target.
    That's first thing I always do: power down the phone when I see something strange.
    badmonkpscooter63lostkiwisteveh
  • Reply 7 of 22
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member
    2013... is that when PRISM went public or...?
  • Reply 8 of 22
    irelandireland Posts: 17,588member
    The US Government alphabet soup agencies have become a huge threat to personal freedom. It's very sad what our governments have become.
    latifbptallest skilibilllostkiwi
  • Reply 9 of 22
    lightknightlightknight Posts: 2,312member
    This is a load of drek. The government needs to address all these "law abiding" citizens. People who don't have anything to hide should not fear any "law enforcement intrusion". The Force exists to protect them, even from themselves. What we need is to apply a serial number to everyone (Serial Identification Number). People who'd refuse that are obviously terrorists and should be relegated to trash zones, like the trash SINless people they are. Why should there be a right to privacy of information? Security is obviously much more important. People who deny this should be sent back abroad where they belong, as the illegal aliens they really are (and if they aren't yet, they should be made so).
    zimmie
  • Reply 10 of 22
    thedbathedba Posts: 475member
    This is a load of drek. The government needs to address all these "law abiding" citizens. People who don't have anything to hide should not fear any "law enforcement intrusion". The Force exists to protect them, even from themselves. What we need is to apply a serial number to everyone (Serial Identification Number). People who'd refuse that are obviously terrorists and should be relegated to trash zones, like the trash SINless people they are. Why should there be a right to privacy of information? Security is obviously much more important. People who deny this should be sent back abroad where they belong, as the illegal aliens they really are (and if they aren't yet, they should be made so).
    Either you forgot your /s tags or you should seek professional help for your anger issues. 
    nolamacguylatifbpicoco3palomineewtheckmantallest skillostkiwijony0steveh
  • Reply 11 of 22
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,831member
    This is a load of drek. The government needs to address all these "law abiding" citizens. People who don't have anything to hide should not fear any "law enforcement intrusion". The Force exists to protect them, even from themselves. What we need is to apply a serial number to everyone (Serial Identification Number). People who'd refuse that are obviously terrorists and should be relegated to trash zones, like the trash SINless people they are. Why should there be a right to privacy of information? Security is obviously much more important. People who deny this should be sent back abroad where they belong, as the illegal aliens they really are (and if they aren't yet, they should be made so).
    "Abroad" isn't a place
    frac
  • Reply 12 of 22
    fracfrac Posts: 480member
    As the needle swings over to to the sanity side on the Stupidometer...
    Where are the security statements from the banking sector, the medical and insurance industry, the myriad e-commerce providers....?
    Their credibility and reason to exist is equally on the line. 
    lostkiwi
  • Reply 13 of 22
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 795member
    We forget the crime wave related to iPhone theft.  Thanks CF for reminding us of where we have been.
    ewtheckmanlostkiwi
  • Reply 14 of 22
    latifbplatifbp Posts: 544member
    Three days ago, I posted a notice to friends about getting iOS 9.2 override while on a long walk. The audio shut off, checked the phone half expecting some series of notifications only to receive a notice the phone was inaccessible for the next minute. Hit the slider to unlock and received the Phone Interface with Russian language on top. Powered down the phone, rebooted and went on with my day. Thats the first ever phishing expedition I've experienced with iOS. I mention this in case you get it [I'm on Verizon] in the future. Also, because Craig is correct. It is a never ending moving target.
    Professor Landau was correct. There are ways that an agency like the NSA has to hack, certainly if some random Russian groups do, and they simply have not shared that knowledge with the FBI. 
  • Reply 15 of 22
    Urei1620Urei1620 Posts: 88member
    It is unacceptable for the US Govt to coerce and force a private company to weaken data security and protection to pre-Snowden times. The world after Snowden is very different, with new security challenges and renewed public awareness on privacy and data security. The NSA from what I understand is adapting. Now it is the turn of the FBI to adapt or dissolve as an agency.
    edited March 2016 steveh
  • Reply 16 of 22
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    So who is next to chime in?

    Eddie Cue?
    Phil Schiller?
    The janitor?
  • Reply 17 of 22
    pscooter63pscooter63 Posts: 924member
    msantti said:
    So who is next to chime in?
    You, obviously.  [eyeroll]
    ibilllostkiwijony0stevehbestkeptsecret
  • Reply 18 of 22
    Apple's head of software engineering Craig Federighi published an opinion in the Washington Post today that clarified the company's reasoning behind refusing to weaken its products to appease a very public demand from the FBI.

    Answer me this - what about a Samsung smart phone? What does the FBI do when the phone manufacturer is someone besides Apple? How about if they are over seas? What does it mean that the FBI isn't mentioning or addressing all smart phone manufacturers? I really think law enforcement needs to have their own separate independent organization and experts for dealing with smart phone and maybe other related security and privacy technology issues. I can't see how else it can work.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 19 of 22
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,219moderator
    Apple's head of software engineering Craig Federighi published an opinion in the Washington Post today that clarified the company's reasoning behind refusing to weaken its products to appease a very public demand from the FBI.

    Answer me this - what about a Samsung smart phone? What does the FBI do when the phone manufacturer is someone besides Apple? How about if they are over seas? What does it mean that the FBI isn't mentioning or addressing all smart phone manufacturers? I really think law enforcement needs to have their own separate independent organization and experts for dealing with smart phone and maybe other related security and privacy technology issues. I can't see how else it can work.
    Apple's source code is protected but Android is open source and Microsoft gives Windows code to the government so it should be easier to make custom cracking software for other platforms. Also it looks like it's easier to get an encrypted image off Android devices, Apple's hardware is custom-built for their needs. Here's someone brute-forcing Android full-disk encryption using GPUs:


    http://forensicswiki.org/wiki/How_To_Decrypt_Android_Full_Disk_Encryption#Decrypting_Samsung_Full_Disk_Encryption_.28FDE.29

    This is one route that was suggested for Apple to go, which is to extract an encrypted image from the device themselves (assuming the government would hand over the phone) and let the government try and crack the image with brute-force because that image could be copied many times but there should perhaps be a law that says this image can only be requested for criminal convicts (including people with prior convictions) and not just suspects so that Apple can reject requests to hand over data of someone who could be innocent and has their privacy violated in the process of the search.

    This means no custom cracking software has to be written by Apple, they open the phone and image data directly from the NAND chip. This data will probably be encrypted using a hashing technique so it will take the intelligence agencies forever to break but it will get them off their back without requiring Apple to reduce the security of their devices. The intelligence agencies won't want this because they know brute-forcing can take forever on long keys.

    This is probably the compromise that allows both sides to maintain their stance. Apple wouldn't be building software for the intelligence agencies and wouldn't compromise security for users as a whole. They could no longer be maliciously portrayed as protecting terrorist data. The intelligence agencies could continue their investigation and it puts the burden of responsibility on them to break into the encrypted image.
    edited March 2016
  • Reply 20 of 22
    stevehsteveh Posts: 480member
    twowright said:
    A the very least, your phone's data should be secure unless the phone is physically disassembled.
    And that should be the very least.
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