FBI Stories May 8

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FBI Stories May 4

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FBI director James Comey yesterday told a Senate oversight committee that the FBI has been unable to access almost half of the mobile devices it tried to examine in the first half of the fiscal year, reports TechCrunch.

Comey said the FBI had been unable to access the contents of more than 3,000 mobile devices in the first half of the fiscal year, using what he described as “appropriate and available technical tools, even though there was the legal authority to do so.” He said that represented “nearly half” of all the mobile devices it had attempted to access in that time frame.

Comey made the statement in apparent support of the latest attempt at forcing phone manufacturers to provide backdoor access to the authorities …

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FBI Stories March 14

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Apple has joined Amazon and Microsoft in a court filing which supports Google’s decision to resist an FBI warrant demanding that it hand over emails stored outside the USA. The tech companies argue that this would set a ‘troubling’ precedent.

Business Insider reports that the FBI served search warrants ordering Google to hand over emails belonging to suspects in a criminal investigation. The emails in question were stored on a server stored outside the USA, and Google refused, arguing that a domestic search warrant could not apply to data stored in a foreign country …

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FBI Stories March 9

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Update: AP reports that Wikileaks has decided to address the first problem by giving tech companies details of the tools.

The WSJ reports that Apple engineers are working to address the remaining iOS exploits reportedly used by the CIA, but they and other tech companies are being hampered by two factors. The first is lack of any access to the code itself.

Apple engineers quickly began calling colleagues to bring them up to speed on the data dump and to coordinate the company’s response to this new security threat, according to a person familiar with the situation […]

Companies now find themselves in a difficult position: They believe that at least two organizations have access to hacking code that exploits their products — the CIA and WikiLeaks — but neither one is sharing this software …

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FBI Director James Comey – who has previously attacked Apple for refusing to create a weak version of iOS to allow government access to iPhones – has said that Americans have no right to expect absolute privacy. CNN has a video clip of Comey making the statement yesterday at a Boston College conference on cybersecurity.

Even our communications with our spouses, with our clergy members, with our attorneys are not absolutely private in America […] There is no such thing as absolute privacy in America; there is no place outside of judicial reach …

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Update: Edward Snowden has tweeted that the code names are real and would only be known by a cleared insider. The BBC has reported that some of the iOS malware allows ‘the agency to see a target’s location, activate their device’s camera and microphone, and read text communications.’

Wikileaks claims that the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency has a specialized unit within its Center for Cyber Intelligence that is devoted to developing and obtaining zero-day exploits for iOS devices. A zero-day exploit is one unknown to Apple or security researchers, so cannot specifically be protected against.

Despite iPhone’s minority share (14.5%) of the global smart phone market in 2016, a specialized unit in the CIA’s Mobile Development Branch produces malware to infest, control and exfiltrate data from iPhones and other Apple products running iOS, such as iPads. CIA’s arsenal includes numerous local and remote “zero days” developed by CIA or obtained from GCHQ, NSA, FBI or purchased from cyber arms contractors such as Baitshop. The disproportionate focus on iOS may be explained by the popularity of the iPhone among social, political, diplomatic and business elites.

Wikileaks further claims that the CIA recently ‘lost control’ of the majority of the malware used to attack iPhones and iPads …

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