Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 29, 2016

fbi

See italicised updates below, with statements from both the Department of Justice and Apple.

The battle between the FBI and Apple over accessing a work phone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists started as headline news and ended in a rather anti-climactic fashion.

The high-profile congressional hearing was due to be followed by a big showdown in court. Instead, the FBI asked that the hearing be vacated, and later quietly announced that it had, with help, managed to gain access to the phone. Nothing to see here, move along.

But while this particular case may be settled, it’s extremely unlikely that this will be the end of the matter – for two reasons …

expand full story

iphone5c

While the FBI has successfully accessed the data on the iPhone 5c in the San Bernardino shootings, and the court battle is over for now, the government says that it may not accede to Apple’s demand to be told the method used.

The White House said back in 2014 that the government would consider the pros and cons of disclosing vulnerabilities discovered by its various law enforcement agencies. ArsTechnica asked whether the FBI would reveal the method used in this case, and was told that it wasn’t saying one way or the other …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 28, 2016

As Apple resists creating a ‘GovtOS’ in the U.S., Microsoft already wrote one for China

Update: A source close to Microsoft tells me the software – which is not yet complete – will be used only by public sector agencies. No information was provided as to how the software differs from the standard Chinese version of Windows 10.

While Apple has strongly resisted building a special ‘GovtOS’ to provide the U.S. government with access to iOS devices, it appears that Microsoft has no such qualms. TechInAsia reports that Microsoft has created a special version of Windows 10 for China, called Windows 10 Zhuangongban, which includes “more management and security controls.”

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 23, 2016

cellebrite

Israeili YNetNews reports that the so-far unnamed “third party” which has offered to help the FBI try to break into the San Bernardino iPhone is Cellebrite, a mobile forensics company based in Israel.

The FBI has been reportedly using the services of the Israeli-based company Cellebrite in its effort to break the protection on a terrorist’s locked iPhone, according to experts in the field familiar with the case. Cellebrite has not responded to the report. But if it is indeed the “third party” in question, and it is able to break into the terrorist’s iPhone, it would bring the high-stakes legal showdown between the government and Apple to an abrupt end. Cellebrite, considered one of the leading companies in the world in the field of digital forensics, has been working with the world’s biggest intelligence, defense and law enforcement authorities for many years. The company provides the FBI with decryption technology as part of a contract signed with the bureau in 2013.

Cellebrite declined to comment officially, and no information was given as to the method the company plans to use. One unlikely source claims to know …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 21, 2016

apple-ceo-tim-cook-fighting-fbi-on-terrorism

A detailed behind-the-scenes look by Bloomberg at the showdown between Apple and the FBI details how it had been on the cards for years before the San Bernardino shootings. Among the details revealed are that Apple provided the FBI with early access to iOS 8 so that the agency could understand the impacts ahead of its introduction.

The government’s concern about Apple’s increasing use of strong encryption dates back to 2010, said one source.

Long before iOS 8 was launched, U.S. law enforcement and intelligence agencies had fretted about Apple’s encryption, according to a person familiar with the matter. In 2010, the company introduced the video-calling app FaceTime. It encrypted conversations between users. The following year, the iMessage texting application arrived; it, too, featured encryption. While neither of these developments caused a public stir, the U.S. government was now aware how much of a premium Apple put on privacy.

It was around this time, says the piece, that the FBI started pushing the White House to introduce new legislation which would guarantee law enforcement access to data on smartphones and other devices. These attempts were reportedly abandoned when the Snowden revelations changed the public mood …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 17, 2016

Susan_Crawford

Harvard Law professor Susan Crawford and former special assistant to President Obama has written a blog post setting out the reason why she believes it is legally impossible for the FBI to win its case. The piece is entitled ‘The Law is Clear: The FBI Cannot Make Apple Rewrite its OS.’

While the FBI is relying on an extremely broad interpretation of the All Writs Act, Crawford points out that it is an accepted principle that specific laws take precedence over more general ones – and there is a specific law which outlaws what the FBI is asking for …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 16, 2016

cover-photo

Fight for the Future, the protest group that organized demonstrations in support of Apple outside its retail stores, plans to hold a demonstration outside the next Apple/FBI court hearing on March 22nd. Re/code reports that the group has created a website inviting people to voice their support for secure iPhones, comments from which will be displayed outside the U.S. District Courthouse in Riverside, California.

The FBI wants to force Apple to weaken the security measures that keep all of us safe. This is misguided, and dangerous. On March 22, when Apple goes to court, we’ll display thousands of statements from Internet users outside the courthouse.

Fight for the Future has so far had mixed success with its protests …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 11, 2016

U.S. Attorney General argues San Bernardino County is the owner of the iPhone, Apple should help ‘the customer’ [Video]

In an interview on The Late Show, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch told Stephen Colbert that the government in the San Bernardino case simply wants Apple to help a customer.

What we’re asking [Apple] to do is to do what the customer wants. The real owner of the phone is the County, the employer of one of the terrorists who is now dead.

passcode

ACLU principal technologist and Yale Law School visiting fellow Christopher Soghoian drew attention to a rather dramatic raising of the stakes in the DOJ’s latest filing in the San Bernardino iPhone case. It contains an implicit threat that if Apple isn’t willing to create the special version of iOS needed to break the passcode protection, the government could force the company to hand over both the source code and signature so that its own coders could do it instead.

For the reasons discussed above, the FBI cannot itself modify the software on Farook’s iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature. The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labor by Apple programmers.

It then goes on to cite a case it believes provides a precedent for this …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 9, 2016

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong...Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is seen in this still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 6, 2013. Snowden was on July 24, 2013 granted documents that will allow him to leave a Moscow airport where he is holed up, an airport source said on Wednesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking details of U.S. government intelligence programmes, was expected to meet his lawyer at Sheremetyevo airport later on Wednesday after lodging a request for temporary asylum in Russia. The immigration authorities declined immediate comment. Picture taken June 6, 2013. MANDATORY CREDIT. REUTERS/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Courtesy of The Guardian/Handout via Reuters (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. MANDATORY CREDIT
Comments (38)

Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is interviewed by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong...Former U.S. spy agency contractor Edward Snowden is seen in this still image taken from video during an interview by The Guardian in his hotel room in Hong Kong June 6, 2013. Snowden was on July 24, 2013 granted documents that will allow him to leave a Moscow airport where he is holed up, an airport source said on Wednesday. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking details of U.S. government intelligence programmes, was expected to meet his lawyer at Sheremetyevo airport later on Wednesday after lodging a request for temporary asylum in Russia. The immigration authorities declined immediate comment. Picture taken June 6, 2013. MANDATORY CREDIT. REUTERS/Glenn Greenwald/Laura Poitras/Courtesy of The Guardian/Handout via Reuters (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS MEDIA) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO SALES. NO ARCHIVES. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. MANDATORY CREDIT

We said yesterday that the war of words on the Apple/FBI dispute were hotting up, and Edward Snowden has now taken things a step further, suggesting that the FBI’s claims that they need Apple to access the iPhone are … not true. His comments were reported by The Intercept, which posted video of the discussion at a civil liberties conference.

“The FBI says Apple has the ‘exclusive technical means’” to unlock the phone, Snowden said during a discussion at Common Cause’s Blueprint for Democracy conference.

“Respectfully, that’s bullsh*t,” he said, over a video link from Moscow.

Snowden had earlier described how the FBI could physically extract the passcode from the iPhone chip, and has now linked to an explanation of how the agency could bypass the auto-erase feature …

expand full story

fbi

While an earlier public poll showed the majority of the public siding with the FBI in the dispute over whether Apple should be forced to help the government break into an iPhone, the public mood appears to be shifting. A WSJ/NBC poll shows that, overall, American voters are now almost evenly split on the issue.

Neither the WSJ nor NBC has yet released the full poll – only the results relating to the Republican primary race – but CNET has reported the numbers.

Overall, American voters are evenly divided over whether Apple should cooperate with FBI efforts to crack open a terrorist’s iPhone.

47 percent said they feared the government wouldn’t go far enough in protecting national security, while 44 percent feared it would intrude too far into citizens’ privacy.

As you’d expect, there was a significant difference in views among registered Republicans and Democrats …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 8, 2016

woz

Appearing on Conan last night, Woz said that he sided with Apple in the FBI fight, first because he’s always been strong on human rights, as one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, but because governments shouldn’t be able to tell manufacturers to make their products insecure at a time when security is so important.

He argued that there is absolutely no reason to think the FBI would learn anything from the iPhone in question.

They picked a lame case. They picked the lamest case you ever could […]

[For the shooters’ own phones] Verizon turned over all the phone records, all the SMS messages. So they want to take this other phone, that the two didn’t destroy, which was a work phone, and it’s so lame and worthless to expect something’s on it and get Apple to expose it.

Revealing that he had once written something that could have acted as a Macintosh virus, he said he’d thrown away every line of code because he was so scared of what might happen if the code got out …

expand full story

Hillary Clinton says Apple/FBI dispute is “the worst dilemma ever”

While most politicians have come down on the side of the FBIBloomberg reports Hillary Clinton is an exception. Not that she’s on Apple’s side: from her remarks, she doesn’t know whose side she’s on, she just wants there to be a solution but has no idea what it should be.

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 7, 2016

lavabit

The implications of the FBI forcing Apple to create a compromised version of iOS to break into an iPhone could be profound, argues Lavabit – an encrypted email company that closed its service rather than comply with an FBI demand to hand over its encryption key. Company founder Ladar Levison (above) was found to be in contempt of court when he refused to hand over the key in 2013.

Lavabit is the latest of more than 40 companies and organizations to file an amicus brief in support of Apple, reports TechCrunch.

It warns that iPhone and iPad users may reject future iOS updates, which would leave security holes unplugged.

If the government is successful, however, many consumers may not be as trustful of these updates because of a fear (actual or imagined) that the updates will contain malware to provide a backdoor into the data on their iPhones. The result is that fewer people will automatically accept the automatic updates and the overall security of iPhones across the country will suffer.

But the effects of a ruling against Apple could go even further, the company suggests …

expand full story

miller

The battle between the FBI and Apple continues to be played out in the media. On the same day that Apple SVP Craig Federighi said that the FBI wanted to create a weakness that could be used by hackers and criminals, NYPD’s head of counter-terrorism weighed in during a radio interview. The Daily News quotes John Miller accusing Apple of providing aid to murderers, among other things.

I still don’t know what made [Apple] change their minds and decide to actually design a system that made them not able to aid the police. You are actually providing aid to the kidnappers, robbers and murderers.

He cited the same quote used by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance during the Congressional hearing to support this contention, that a criminal described iOS 8 as ‘a gift from God’ …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 2, 2016

Apple-Store-Sydney

Shortly after yesterday’s Congressional hearing, Apple filed a formal objection to the court order instructing it to assist the FBI in breaking into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Apple had previously filed its mandatory response, in which it called for the court to vacate the order. This was a 65-page detailed document setting out the reasons the company believed the order should not have been granted. The document filed yesterday was rather shorter …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories March 1, 2016

congress

Reuters reports that both Republican and Democratic party members of the House Judiciary Committee support Apple’s view that Congress, not the courts, should decide the FBI case – and plan to file a legal brief to say so. The committee is responsible for overseeing the administration of justice within federal courts, and most of its members have a legal background.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee are considering filing a “friend of the court” brief in Apple’s encryption dispute with the U.S. government to argue that the case should be decided by Congress and not the courts, five sources familiar with the matter said […]

They said the brief would come from individual committee members of both Republican and Democratic parties but not the judiciary committee itself. Reuters could not determine which members were likely to be included … 

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories February 29, 2016

tim-cook-fbi

In an interesting summary of the possible outcomes of the Apple vs FBI standoff, Quartz notes that some experts believe that CEO Tim Cook could be held personally liable for defying a court order and face jail time.

Attorney Peter Fu told Fast Company that the scenario would arise only if the case went all the way to the Supreme Court and Apple lost but continued to refuse to cooperate.

Under these circumstances, there is a universe of possibilities where Tim Cook could actually go to jail for refusing to comply with a lawful order of the court. This is because Apple has already publicly declared that it will not comply with a court order to unlock the iPhone and as such, necessarily forces the courts to favor punishment over coercion … 

Stephen Vladeck, an expert on national security law at American University, disagrees.

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories February 26, 2016

4096

FBI director James Comey – who had previously claimed that “the San Bernardino litigation isn’t about trying to set a precedent” – has now admitted that it would. The Guardian reports that Comey made the admission when testifying under oath yesterday to a Congress committee.

The ultimate outcome of the Apple-FBI showdown is likely to “guide how other courts handle similar requests”, James Comey told a congressional intelligence panel on Thursday, a softening of his flat insistence on Sunday that the FBI was not attempting to “set a precedent”.

Asked if it was true that police departments around the country also wanted to gain access to locked iPhones, he agreed that it was …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories February 25, 2016

doj

Apple may be battling one branch of U.S. law enforcement on a terrorist-related issue, but CNN reports that the company is working closely with another on a broader fight against ISIS. Apple is one of six leading tech and media companies offering assistance to the Department of Justice in countering ISIS messaging and posts on social media.

At a meeting conducted at the Justice Department on Wednesday, executives from Apple, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, MTV and Buzzfeed offered their input to top counter intelligence officials, according to an industry source familiar with the meeting.

In all, nearly 50 companies and community groups participated, along with the National Security Council, the State Department and the British Embassy.

The issue is not just one of propaganda, said National Counterterrorism Center director Nick Rasmussen, but of directly encouraging acts of terrorism …

expand full story

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories February 24, 2016

#standwithapple rallies take place at Apple Stores across the country, though in small numbers

Digital rights non-profit Fight for the Future held rallies at Apple Stores in all 50 states yesterday to demonstrate support for Apple’s stand against the FBI, though USA Today reports that only single digit numbers of protesters were seen at most locations. The largest number was in San Francisco, where around 50 protesters gathered, with almost half as many journalists interviewing them.

A group of about 50 protesters lined the edges of Apple’s downtown store, being busily interviewed by more than 20 journalists. They were serenaded by Bonnie Lockhart, 68 and Nancy Schimmel, 80, who sang hastily re-written songs such as “Don’t break our phones, we shall not be moved,” and “The Eyes of the FBI are On You,” to the tune of “I’ve been working on the railroad.”

Apple’s flagship store on New York’s 5th Avenue saw only around eight protesters, and at some Apple Stores protesters with glitter signs were apparently alone, having to resort to selfies to capture the event.

Sign selfies be hard, yo. #StandWithApple

A photo posted by Rene Ritchie (@reneritchie) on

The limited numbers shouldn’t, though, be taken as lack of support for Apple’s position. In our own poll, 86% of you thought Apple was right, though this was down from the 93% support we saw for Apple’s strong line on encryption in a poll taken prior to the shootings. A public poll was less definitive, with 51% coming down on the side of the FBI, 38% backing Apple and 11% undecided.

Photo: Robert Deutsch, USA Today

Federal Bureau of Investigation Stories February 22, 2016

hayden

Retired General Michael Hayden, former head of both the NSA and CIA, told USA Today that while he “trends toward the government” on the ‘master key‘ approach to the San Bernardino case, he thinks Apple is right that there should never be a back door to encryption. His remarks were made as Tim Cook called for the government to drop its demands that Apple help the FBI break into an iPhone.

Hayden went so far as to specifically call out FBI Director Jim Comey in his comments.

In this specific case, I’m trending toward the government, but I’ve got to tell you in general I oppose the government’s effort, personified by FBI Director Jim Comey. Jim would like a back door available to American law enforcement in all devices globally. And, frankly, I think on balance that actually harms American safety and security, even though it might make Jim’s job a bit easier in some specific circumstances.

Comey has repeatedly attacked Apple’s use of strong encryption on iPhones …

expand full story

Edward Snowden describes how the FBI could physically extract passcode from iPhone chip without Apple’s help

With Apple calling on the government to withdraw its demand that the company create a tool to unlock the iPhone in the San Bernardino case, it seems the FBI does have a plan B – albeit a long-winded and highly uncertain one. Edward Snowden says that FBI claims that it cannot access the phone without Apple’s help are not quite true.

“The problem is, the FBI has other means… They told the courts they didn’t, but they do,” Snowden said during a virtual talk hosted by Johns Hopkins University. “The FBI does not want to do this.”

The technique Snowden described is known as chip de-capping, and involves physically attacking the chip in order to probe its contents. Four cyber security researchers contacted by ABC News confirmed that the technique is real, but far from certain to succeed …

unlock

Victims and families of victims in the San Bernardino shootings have expressed divided views on the Apple vs FBI battle over access to an iPhone used by one of the terrorists.

We noted earlier that the mother of one of those killed in the attack has expressed support for Apple’s position, stating that the constitutional right to privacy “is what makes America great.”

This is what separates us from communism, isn’t it? The fact we have the right to privacy. I think Apple is definitely within their rights to protect the privacy of all Americans.

However, Reuters reports that some victims of the attack plan to file a legal brief in support of the FBI …

expand full story

Powered by WordPress VIP