Cellebrite executive insists iPhone unlocking has a 'public safety imperative'

Posted:
in iPhone
Cellebrite offers its services to law enforcement for the welfare of the public, an executive of the security firm known for breaking the security of iOS and other devices claims in an interview, while also stressing the firm's tools are not a major risk to the privacy of iPhone users in general.

Cellebrite's Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), used to acquire data from smartphones
Cellebrite's Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), used to acquire data from smartphones


"There's a public safety imperative here," chief marketing officer Jeremy Nazarian tells Forbes, claiming the firm's capabilities are useful to help against "major public threats in any community," such as homicides, crimes against children, and drug-related gang activity.

During the brief interview, Nazarian declined to offer details about how Cellebrite was able to access an iPhone 8 or iPhone X, a service it recently started marketing to law enforcement agencies. The firm reasons that providing small details about its methods would allow Apple engineers to fix any flaws in iOS' security, forcing Cellebrite to come up with new methods, so prefers to keep such information as secret as possible.

"We feel an obligation to those serving the public safety mission to ensure those capabilities are preserved, to the extent that they can be," Nazarian states in defense.

The chief marketing officer also attempted to ease fears that the same tools and service Cellebrite provides to government security agencies was not able to be used in illegal ways.

"It's not like this is over the wire listening technology... it requires physical access. It's not like anyone is listening to your iPhone or my iPhone," advises Nazarian. "There's nothing inherent in the technology that means it's open to misuse."

The comments from Nazarian arrive one week after the security firm reportedly saw a year-on-year increase in revenue, jumping 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 compared to the same period in 2016. While not explanation for the rise is advised, it is most likely Cellebrite's raised profile following its involvement in the San Bernardino investigation has helped it gain more custom from government agencies.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 44
    robin huberrobin huber Posts: 3,199member
    Would love to see Apple challenge them to crack the latest software version on a properly protected iPhone X. Put up or shut up. 

    idaho43lostkiwilamboaudi4magman1979anton zuykovwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,284member
    Would love to see Apple challenge them to crack the latest software version on a properly protected iPhone X. Put up or shut up. 

    I doubt you'll be privy to seeing them do anything. ;)
    repressthisbonobobmike1jbdragon
  • Reply 3 of 44
    idaho43idaho43 Posts: 4member
    "There's a public safety imperative here,"  NO, there is a for-profit imperative here!  
    mac_doghammeroftruthwilliamlondonrob53fotoformatmacseekerlostkiwimark fearingjony0repressthis
  • Reply 4 of 44
    kruegdudekruegdude Posts: 150member
    So, in other words, “trust us”. 
    williamlondonlostkiwirepressthismagman1979watto_cobraGeorgeBMacjahblade
  • Reply 5 of 44
    mac_dogmac_dog Posts: 580member
    idaho43 said:
    "There's a public safety imperative here,"  NO, there is a for-profit imperative here!  
    Absolutely correct. “Public safety imperative” is simply a smokescreen and means of building themselves up as having some sort of magnanimous, lofty purpose. They’re just selling themselves to the highest bidder. Their philosophy is no different than weapons manufacturers. It’s only a matter of time before this government gets a hold of this tech. Then we’re all fucked. 
    edited March 4 magman1979bshankwatto_cobraGeorgeBMacjbdragonjahblade
  • Reply 6 of 44
    georgie01georgie01 Posts: 179member
    This sounds like advertising. Nazarian is aligning himself with the mindset of his potential clients and selling his services. That seems normal.

    And I agree with what they’re doing. I don’t think governments should ever be snooping on their citizens or invading their privacy or not allowing them to pursue secure privacy, but there will sometimes be instances where cracking phones would be helpful and governments should be doing everything they can to be able to crack them. However, they should not be lazy and just decide that citizens can’t have proper security just so the government can have easy access to private property.
    williamlondonJWSC
  • Reply 7 of 44
    dws-2dws-2 Posts: 196member
    As long it it costs a ton of money to unlock an iPhone, and Apple is free to continue locking its system down harder in response, I'm fine.

    I think Apple should be free to try to make its phone impenetrable, and people should be free to attempt to hack them.

    To me, the most important thing is that some thief or police officer can't break into my phone easily. If it costs a ton of money, that means that any law enforceable officer is going to have to get multiple approvals, and that adds enough layers of protection for me to free comfortable. That means the police at a minimum are going to need to have a very good reason for suspecting the person of a serious crime. And a thief isn't going to steal my information if it costs them a ton of money.
    edited March 4 fotoformatlostkiwigatorguyMplsPcaladanianrobin hubermagman1979baconstangbonobobwatto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 44
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,915member
    They’re hackers, plain and simple. Talk about double standards. If they were hacking government systems they’d be arrested but since they’re hacking private citizen’s phones, governments won’t touch them. Time for hackers to hack Cellibrite. 
    williamlondondesignrmagman1979anton zuykovwatto_cobraGeorgeBMacjbdragon
  • Reply 9 of 44
    ph382ph382 Posts: 27member
    The argument could be made that law should force companies like this to disclose their hacks to the manufacturer to improve security for ALL of us.

    lostkiwimark fearingmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 44
    mac_dog said:
    idaho43 said:
    "There's a public safety imperative here,"  NO, there is a for-profit imperative here!  
    Absolutely correct. “Public safety imperative” is simply a smokescreen and means of building themselves up as having some sort of magnanimous, lofty purpose. They’re just selling themselves to the highest bidder. Their philosophy is no different than weapons manufacturers. It’s only a matter of time before this government gets a hold of this tech. Then we’re all fucked. 
    Black hats have been already doing this for awhile. 

    Read this piece: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/11/how-bill-marczak-spyware-can-control-the-iphone

    You could say that Cellbrite might have connections to the Israeli hackers mentioned in the above article. That could explain how they were able to get into the iPhone 5c for the FBI. 

    One thing that has never been mentioned is that what information was extracted from that 5c and if it was useful to the investigation. 
    It seems to me if there was pertinent information that would help the investigation, the FBI would have mentioned it and explained that because of that, there needs to be a "backdoor" to iOS. 

    The one point tinfoil hat people make that is true is, as long as you have something that can connect to the internet, you are vulnerable. It doesn't mean that you have been compromised, just that you are vulnerable.

    Educate yourself on how you can keep yourself secure. Start with complex passwords and check everything you own that connects to the internet and make sure there aren't any firmware updates to prevent you from being compromised.

    Lastly, stop sharing every F@cking detail about yourself on social media. 
    rotateleftbytekudubaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 44
    geekmeegeekmee Posts: 267member
    Can you say? Self-Serving.
    hammeroftruthStrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 44

    Lastly, stop sharing every F@cking detail about yourself on social media. 
    Never a truer word spoken/written.
    It is all too easy for people to find out all sorts of things about you that make up vunerable to Identity theft.
    I never put the correct answer to things like Mother's Maiden Name or First School.
    Those are a matter of public record in many countries.
    It is your job to make life really hard for the hackers and especially this mob who will take great delight in hacking into your iPhone.
    Lie about your past at every opportunity except where it matters.
    magman1979hammeroftruthbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 44
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 755member
    I was just watching the final episode of British TV drama “Liar” last night. The heroine had her copper ex-partner hack into a late model iPhone using some “software that a mate gave him”. LOL. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,284member
    mac_dog said:
    idaho43 said:
    "There's a public safety imperative here,"  NO, there is a for-profit imperative here!  
    Absolutely correct. “Public safety imperative” is simply a smokescreen and means of building themselves up as having some sort of magnanimous, lofty purpose. They’re just selling themselves to the highest bidder. Their philosophy is no different than weapons manufacturers. It’s only a matter of time before this government gets a hold of this tech. Then we’re all fucked. 
    Black hats have been already doing this for awhile. 

    Read this piece: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/11/how-bill-marczak-spyware-can-control-the-iphone

    You could say that Cellbrite might have connections to the Israeli hackers mentioned in the above article. That could explain how they were able to get into the iPhone 5c for the FBI. 

    One thing that has never been mentioned is that what information was extracted from that 5c and if it was useful to the investigation. 
    It seems to me if there was pertinent information that would help the investigation, the FBI would have mentioned it and explained that because of that, there needs to be a "backdoor" to iOS. 

    The one point tinfoil hat people make that is true is, as long as you have something that can connect to the internet, you are vulnerable. It doesn't mean that you have been compromised, just that you are vulnerable.

    Educate yourself on how you can keep yourself secure. Start with complex passwords and check everything you own that connects to the internet and make sure there aren't any firmware updates to prevent you from being compromised.

    Lastly, stop sharing every F@cking detail about yourself on social media. 
    And if you truly are out to kill innocents, kidnap my children, or bring mass destruction to my city I hope your phones CAN be hacked, hope with all my heart. 
    MplsPJWSC
  • Reply 15 of 44
    It’s about time Apple open sources more of their software. They can still fully own their code anyway. Security through obscurity only goes so far.

    If it’s open, the community can locate and contribute to finding weaknesses instead of allowing the likes of Cellebrite to find weaknesses they plan to keep secret to the general public. 
    williamlondon
  • Reply 16 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    idaho43 said:
    "There's a public safety imperative here,"  NO, there is a for-profit imperative here!  
    That sums it up.
    magman1979watto_cobraGeorgeBMacjbdragon
  • Reply 17 of 44
    I hope Apple patches their mega bug , in 11.3!
    That would be great.
    magman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 44
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,245member
    rob53 said:
    They’re hackers, plain and simple. Talk about double standards. If they were hacking government systems they’d be arrested but since they’re hacking private citizen’s phones, governments won’t touch them. Time for hackers to hack Cellibrite. 
    So what?  If you got skills, and doing it legally I have zero problem with it.   Apple has some of the strongest phone security around, but these guys apparently can pinch through it.  Good for them.   It’ll just mean Apple will be even more determined to increase security.

    Ever notice that Android is never brought up in these kind of discussions?  Android users should be extremely concerned.
    williamlondonMplsPmagman1979JWSCbaconstangwatto_cobraGeorgeBMacjbdragon
  • Reply 19 of 44
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 19,284member
    sflocal said:
    rob53 said:
    They’re hackers, plain and simple. Talk about double standards. If they were hacking government systems they’d be arrested but since they’re hacking private citizen’s phones, governments won’t touch them. Time for hackers to hack Cellibrite. 
    So what?  If you got skills, and doing it legally I have zero problem with it.   Apple has some of the strongest phone security around, but these guys apparently can pinch through it.  Good for them.   It’ll just mean Apple will be even more determined to increase security.

    Ever notice that Android is never brought up in these kind of discussions?  Android users should be extremely concerned.
    About what? I can't think of one single thing I have of my phone or that I've ever done with my phone that Cellebrite would have the slightest interest in, and I'll wager not anything on yours either. The impact of whatever hack they have discovered to ANYONE here is non-existent IMHO. If tthe day ever comes that you, or even some local policing agency, can access my phone unassisted then perhaps there's reason to sit up and take notice. In truth most of our current phones whether Android iOS are capable of being secured against all but the most talented professional hackers. 

    If a company like Cellebrite is tasked with breaking into your phone there's a heckuva good and valid reason behind it IMO and I say best of luck. 
    edited March 4 JWSC
  • Reply 20 of 44
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,288member
    rob53 said:
    They’re hackers, plain and simple. Talk about double standards. If they were hacking government systems they’d be arrested but since they’re hacking private citizen’s phones, governments won’t touch them. Time for hackers to hack Cellibrite. 
    That’s not accurate. Governments are major employers of hackers to get into all sorts of systems, foreign and domestic.
    edited March 4 racerhomie3
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