informationliberation
The news you're not supposed to know...




An Introduction to Austrian Economics: Understand Economics, Understand Everything
The Century of the Self: The Untold History of Controlling the Masses Through the Manipulation of Unconscious Desires
The Disappearing Male: From Virility to Sterility

The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off
Operation Gladio: The Hidden History of U.S. Sponsored False Flag Terrorism in EuropeThe New American Century: The Untold History of The Project for the New American Century
(more)
Article posted Apr 05 2013, 1:14 AM Category: Big Brother/Orwellian Source: Cato Institute Print

Untappable Apple or DEA Disinformation?

By JULIAN SANCHEZ

Tech news site CNET has an interesting, but I suspect somewhat misleading, story today suggesting that text messages sent via Apple’s iMessage service--an Internet-based alternative to traditional cell phone SMS text messages--are "impossible to intercept" by law enforcement. Yet that is not quite what the document on which the story is based--an "intelligence note" distributed to law enforcement by the Drug Enfrocement Administration--actually says.

The DEA memo simply observes that, because iMessages are encrypted and sent via the Internet through Apple’s servers, a conventional wiretap installed at the cellular carrier’s facility isn’t going to catch those iMessages along with conventional text messages. Which shouldn’t exactly be surprising: A search of your postal mail isn’t going to capture your phone calls either; they’re just different communications channels. But the CNET article strongly implies that this means encrypted iMessages cannot be accessed by law enforcement at all. That is almost certainly false.

As cryptographer and computer scientist Matthew Green observes, there is a simple and intuitive way to test whether Apple (or any cloud storage provider) has the capability to access a user’s encrypted content stored in the cloud--as Apple’s iMessages are: The "mud puddle test." If you slip in a mud puddle, destroying your iPhone (along with any locally stored encryption keys) and forgetting your passwords as a result of the bump on the head, can you still recover your data? Can you, for instance, log in from a Web browser, reset your password, and then restore your content to a new device? If you can--and with Apple’s iCloud services, you can--then the cloud provider must itself hold the keys to unlock that data. So iMessages may not be interceptable from a suspect’s cell carrier, but Apple has to be capable of handing them over when the authorities come knocking with a warrant. In fact, all Apple has to do is provide the cops with an appropriate authentication token and they should, in principle, be able to turn an ordinary iPhone into a de facto clone of the suspect’s own device--so that iMessages show up on the police phone in realtime just as the suspect receives or sends them.

In fact, there’s another big way in which iMessages should be much more convenient and useful to police than conventional text messages. As law enforcement has long complained, most cell carriers store ordinary SMS messages for a few days after they’re sent at most--and some don’t retain message content at all. That means police aren’t able to read through a suspect’s historical messages even if they obtain a search warrant--only new ones. Apple’s iMessages, however, are stored indefinitely--which is a lot more useful if you’re trying to investigate a crime that’s already occurred. That means cops should be absolutely overjoyed if drug dealers or other criminals start using iMessage instead of SMS.

Which brings us to the question of why, exactly, this sensitive law enforcement document leaked to a news outlet in the first place. It would be very strange, after all, for a cop to deliberately pass along information that could help drug dealers shield their communications from police. One reason might be to create support for the Justice Department’s longstanding campaign for legislation to require Interent providers to create backdoors ensuring police can read encrypted communications--even though in this case, the backdoor would appear to already exist.

The CNET article itself discusses this so-called "Going Dark" initiative. But another possible motive is to spread the very false impression that the article creates: That iMessages are somehow more difficult, if not impossible, for law enforcement to intercept. Criminals might then switch to using the iMessage service, which is no more immune to interception in reality, and actually provides police with far more useful data than traditional text messages can. If that’s what happened here, you have to admire the leaker’s ingenuity--but I’m inclined to think people are entitled to accurate information about the real level of security their communication enjoy.





Latest Big Brother/Orwellian
- Connecticut's Homeschooling Crackdown
- Mission Creeps: Homeland Security Agents Confiscate Women's Panties For 'Copyright Infringement'
- NY Police Commissioner Bill Bratton Latest To Complain About Phone Encryption
- British Spy Chief Calls For Crackdown On Internet Freedom
- Apple May Want To Protect Your Phone Data From Snooping, But It's Snarfing Up Your Local Desktop Searches
- FBI Director Continues His Attack On Technology, Privacy And Encryption
- Florida Appeals Court Strikes Down Red Light Cameras
- Silk Road Judge Won't Examine FBI's Warrantless Server Hacking; Dismisses Suppression Motion On 'Privacy Interest' Technicality









No Comments Posted Add Comment


Add Comment
Name
Comment

* No HTML


Verification *
Please Enter the Verification Code Seen Below
 


PLEASE NOTE
Please see our About Page, our Disclaimer, and our Comments Policy.


FAIR USE NOTICE
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which in some cases has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Such material is made available for the purposes of news reporting, education, research, comment, and criticism, which constitutes a 'fair use' of such copyrighted material in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. It is our policy to respond to notices of alleged infringement that comply with the DMCA and other applicable intellectual property laws. It is our policy to remove material from public view that we believe in good faith to be copyrighted material that has been illegally copied and distributed by any of our members or users.

About Us - Disclaimer - Privacy Policy



Advanced Search
Username:

Password:

Remember Me
Forgot Password?
Register

Mission Creeps: Homeland Security Agents Confiscate Women's Panties For 'Copyright Infringement' - 10/23Canadian PM Vows To Take Away Citizens' Rights In Response To Parliament Attacker - 10/24Chicago Cop Who Assaulted 89-Yr-Old For Requesting He Stop Cursing Gets 3 Years - 10/23Protesters Who Planned To Smash 'Police Brutality' Pumpkins Arrested For Littering, Assault - 10/24NYPD Officer Mistakes Fellow Cop For Suspect, Kicks Him In The Head - 10/24NYPD Looking Into Arrest Of Subway Performer After Video Goes Viral; Arrest Voided - 10/24Fla. Sheriff May Be Liable For His Deputy Arresting Man For Videotaping - 10/24Why 'Good Cops' Stay Silent, Continued - 10/24

Rialto, CA Police Made to Wear Cameras, Use of Force Drops by Over Two-ThirdsCop Who Karate Chopped NY Judge In Throat Gets Off Scot-FreeFlorida Cop Smashes Compliant Woman's Face Into Car -- "Maybe Now You Can Understand Simple Instructions"VIDEO: Lapel Cam Reveals A Day In The Life Of A U.S. Police Officer (Tasing, Beating, Breaking & Entering, Stomping On Heads... and Laughing About It)Caught On Tape: Officer Sucker Punches Inmate In Face, Files Report Claiming 'Self Defense'Insult Person On Twitter, Go To JailSWAT Team Brings TV Crew To Film Raid Against Threatening Internet Critic -- Raids Innocent Grandma InsteadCop Karate Chops NY Judge In The Throat
(more)

 
Top