Apple And The FBI: Intended And Unintended Consequences Of An iPhone Backdoor

Status
Not open for further replies.

LORD_ORION

Distinguished
Sep 12, 2007
814
0
18,980
0
Remember when the US used to make fun of these commie totalitarian behaviors in cartoons? There would be a sweet little girl reading a letter from her pen pal, except the voice over was some burly hairy goon speaking in a Slavic accent.

 

TwoDigital

Distinguished
Jan 2, 2008
285
0
18,810
6
I thought the FBI was supposed to be this super-smart group of cyber-criminal trackers. If they HAVE the phone, why can't they just read data right from the memory chip and then brute-force it in an environment that doesn't have a 10-chances-and-it-blows-up keycode? Also, if they google this, they can buy this: https://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/iphone-pin-pass-code/ ... just saying.
 

DeadlyDays

Honorable
Mar 29, 2013
379
0
10,960
63
probably because this isn't about cracking the phone, it is about the FBI, amongst other US groups, to establish a prerogative for companies to comply with requests to break/decrypt secured devices.

I would be incredibly surprised if they didn't have the technology to clone the device virtually and run dozens if not hundreds of instances to break into it bruteforce style. Like it says in the article, if there is a precedent than a judge unfamiliar with technology may misunderstand it and the fbi and others could use it to force companies to do this for situations where it is much, much harder/nearly impossible to break in via bruteforce.
 

chicofehr

Distinguished
Jan 29, 2012
538
0
18,990
2
I think what they want is for apple to circumvent the 10 attempts limit which in itself would reduce the value of encryption. of course like others said, cloning the memory chip itself and cracking it in a virtual environment would make more sense.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

When the FBI wants to access a device, they usually do not want to wait several hours or days to get in - that's assuming the data self-destruct does not get triggered in the meantime.

For devices with Secure Enclave backed encryption and equivalents, duplicating the eMMC does you no good since the non-readable UID code hidden inside the Secure Enclave used to generate encryption keys is not externally accessible - Apple claims the hardware lacks any ability for the software/firmware to read the UID back after it is written. That limits you to having to go through the Secure Enclave's 80ms key generation latency for each password guess attempt or directly brute-forcing the 128+ bits file/block encryption.
 

d_kuhn

Distinguished
Mar 26, 2002
704
0
18,990
2
I thought the FBI was supposed to be this super-smart group of cyber-criminal trackers. If they HAVE the phone, why can't they just read data right from the memory chip and then brute-force it in an environment that doesn't have a 10-chances-and-it-blows-up keycode? Also, if they google this, they can buy this: https://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/iphone-pin-pass-code/ ... just saying.
I'm sure they can do just that on older phones... but they're also cheap and lazy... right now they have to REALLY want that data in order to pay what it would cost to disassemble the phone and manually extract the stored data. This law gives them a cheap way to do the same thing and makes it easy to distribute that capability to other agencies and use in less serious situations. I'm sure the goal of this move is not to get the data on that particular phone (I'd be surprised if they don't already have it) but rather to weaken phones to cheap/wide access from government agencies.
 

bloodroses75

Distinguished
Aug 10, 2009
186
0
18,710
13
What I don't get about this whole thing is that it is illegal to internationally travel between some countries with encrypted electronic devices. So, does this mean that every person that has an iPhone is breaking the law if they internationally travel with their phone?

https://www.princeton.edu/itsecurity/encryption/encryption-and-internatio/
(one of many links about the subject)
 

none12345

Distinguished
Apr 27, 2013
431
2
18,785
0
I rarely get to say kudos to apple. But stick to your guns apple, don't cave to that BS.

Destroying personal liberty/security in the name of protecting you against terrorism, means the terrorists have already won.
 

targetdrone

Distinguished
Mar 26, 2012
308
3
18,785
0
I think what they want is for apple to circumvent the 10 attempts limit which in itself would reduce the value of encryption. of course like others said, cloning the memory chip itself and cracking it in a virtual environment would make more sense.
I think what they want is for apple to circumvent the 10 attempts limit which in itself would reduce the value of encryption. of course like others said, cloning the memory chip itself and cracking it in a virtual environment would make more sense.
We are talking about a government agency here. Making sense is against the rules.
 

Math Geek

Champion
Ambassador
i sure hope Apple can win this one. would be a massive blow to the industry if they are forced to do this.

so far they have been able to hide behind "we couldn't even if we wanted to" but in this case, they could actually do what they are being ordered to do. can't do this on newer versions of the phone but for older versions there are a lot of ways in.

if you remember until ios4 you could simply remove the password file and remove it to gain entry. it took a lot more work for ios 4 but it could still be done if you were very skilled and had the right tools. since then it has been all but impossible to break a pin number on an iphone. i'm sure there are some out there with the abilities to create this custom firmware the gov wants from apple. fortunately these people don't/won't work with the gov and hopefully won't ever decide to work against apple in this way.
 

house70

Splendid
I despise Apple as a business model and a company in general, but I stand by them in this case. There is a LOT more at stake here than just breaking one single phone's encryption.
 

apertotes

Honorable
Aug 7, 2013
55
0
10,630
0
Being able to break Enigma was crucial to shorten WWII and save god-knows-how-many lives. Nowadays, enemies (whomever they might be, be it terrorists, or future war enemies) might very possible use iPhones or any other secure smartphone as a communications device. We live in an era were some of the most secure devices are mainstream. That is mighty good, but it has some undesirable consequences.

I am not sure what is the solution. I just do not think it is as simple as saying that privacy is superior to security. We've lived for centuries sending paper letters that anyone could easily and illegally open, and even the Police and other agencies were allowed to open them in special circumstances. Yet we still sent those letters with no worries at all.

I am not American, and I do not trust the FBI or CIA at all, but I think there should be a way for Police or intelligence agencies to reach the contents of some people devices.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

Those letters can only be intercepted by people who are physically in the delivery chain. Once you have received your mail, you are relatively confident that nobody else can get at it anymore. Digital content on internet-connected devices on the other hand can be remotely hacked into by someone on a different continent at any time of the year through countless known, yet-to-be-discovered and future attack vectors.

The problem with adding provisions to make access easier for law enforcement is that it makes unauthorized access that much easier for everyone else as well, including abuse by law enforcement and the possibility that the backdoors may leak into the public.

For the most part, I'd say the risk of unnecessary potential privacy breaches far outweighs the security gains. By the time you manage to get a suspect's phone/tablet, you should already have a pretty strong case, the phone's data is just a bonus which may expedite the case.
 

apertotes

Honorable
Aug 7, 2013
55
0
10,630
0


Yes, but that delivery chain wasn't even a secure one. Postmen could very easily steal letters and then say they were lost. They did not, but not because they could not. Not even mailboxes were secure, a simple kick, or a hammer is all that was needed to open them and have access to everything inside.

I am not saying that things are exactly the same. Simply saying that privacy has always been enforced not by security measures, but rather by trust on those involved. If we have lost that trust, then I believe that is the real problem, and not the fact that there may be a back door.

 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

Privacy has been "enforced" mainly by the fact that most of the people involved in physical mail delivery have little to no interest in the content or no knowledge of what the content even is in the first place - certainly not enough interest to risk their job over. Mail a $100 bill in an envelope with a window large enough to clearly show that it contains a $100 bill, it will almost certainly disappear somewhere along the way because nearly everyone involved will be tempted by having an extra untraceable $100. My sister's godmother said she sent some cash over the mail a few times (dumb thing to do) and my sister says she never received any of it.

Mobile devices may contain data worth thousands of dollars. It only takes a few dozen "jackpot" victims to make the attacker's day and it is nearly risk-free for the attacker. Many people won't find out they have been hacked until months later and finding out exactly what the attacker got away with will be difficult to impossible. You don't want to make the process any easier than absolutely necessary.
 

apertotes

Honorable
Aug 7, 2013
55
0
10,630
0


Also do homes, and vaults, and lockers, and bank accounts, and any other place/device designed to store valuables, yet all those can be searched by the Police with a judicial warrant.

Wouldn't you buy a Honda simply because the Police can get it open (either with a master key, or by breaking the window)? Don't you have private and valuable documents at home, even though at any time a policeman may come with a warrant and search all your home?

Now, I do understand that a thief will never get a judicial warrant, and they may very well have a hacking tool. I understand the difference, but I think that the higher concept must remain. Authorities should be able to get a certain information from a suspected criminal. What we should find is a way to make that unavailable to bad bad people, not cut authorities out of this entirely.

 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

Access to physical property requires physical access. Hacking into internet-enabled devices can be done by anyone anywhere across the world. There is very little if anything that can be done to facilitate authorities' access that won't compromise protection from the rest of the world as well. A backdoor for one is a backdoor for all once it gets discovered.
 

ummduh

Distinguished
Feb 14, 2008
9
0
18,510
0
I thought the FBI was supposed to be this super-smart group of cyber-criminal trackers. If they HAVE the phone, why can't they just read data right from the memory chip and then brute-force it in an environment that doesn't have a 10-chances-and-it-blows-up keycode? Also, if they google this, they can buy this: https://www.intego.com/mac-security-blog/iphone-pin-pass-code/ ... just saying.
Clearly they need to get a hold of Angela from the Jefforsonian. She's able to crack every form of encryption in a single episode.
 

InvalidError

Titan
Moderator

How do you guarantee that? You can't. The security of the UID relies on the fact that it cannot be externally accessed for reading by any means whatsoever - short of shaving the chip and reading individual EEPROM cells with an electron attraction force microscope. Once you include a read-back path in the chip, guaranteeing that it won't be accessible through unintended paths and side-channels becomes difficult to impossible.

One possibility might be to make the read-back facility only accessible through missing balls under the BGA, requiring desoldering the BGA from the motherboard, a special jig to activate the read-back facility and extract the UID - with a risk of destroying the BGA and the UID it contains in the process. The UID extraction process would also need self-destruct capabilities to prevent thieves or other unauthorized parties from getting any significant practice out of a chip.

The process cannot be made any simpler than that to prevent abuse from authorities (if it was as simple as plugging in a USB/SD dongle or plugging into a motherboard header, there would be a high probability customs and other places would conduct wanton unwarranted searches) and also keep skilled phone thieves out - at least until the UID extraction method gets leaked or reverse-engineered. After all, theft deterrence is the other major reason behind strong hardware-backed cryptography in shiny new devices.
 

brucek2

Distinguished
Dec 31, 2008
117
0
18,680
0
The terrorists are already dead. There is no more justice to administer to them. I am not sure why a court needs the phone to help reach a verdict in the first place (or even what case it pertains to.)

Or if this is not about justice for the previous crimes but about gathering intel to perhaps prevent future attacks instead (which is not how I've been seeing it reported) -- while I understand the desire, it has now been several weeks, everyone knows the phone has been captured, and it's hard to believe that any plans that might be on there haven't long since been changed.

So how is this even a close call?
 

hitman400

Distinguished
Jul 24, 2012
91
0
18,630
0
The terrorists are already dead. There is no more justice to administer to them. I am not sure why a court needs the phone to help reach a verdict in the first place (or even what case it pertains to.)

Or if this is not about justice for the previous crimes but about gathering intel to perhaps prevent future attacks instead (which is not how I've been seeing it reported) -- while I understand the desire, it has now been several weeks, everyone knows the phone has been captured, and it's hard to believe that any plans that might be on there haven't long since been changed.

So how is this even a close call?
Terrorists will never be dead because terrorism is an idea floating in space. It is floating the same way in which Hitler's existence and actions inspires some contemporary man to carry out his actions. However, terrorism of the current nature is recruiting people from around the world rather than locally. It's an ideal in space you can't destroy.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS