Apple Locks Out NSA with iPhone 6

By - mobile via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

By – mobile via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

via The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — Devoted customers of Apple products these days worry about whether the new iPhone 6 will bend in their jean pockets. The National Security Agency and the nation’s law enforcement agencies have a different concern: that the smartphone is the first of a post-Snowden generation of equipment that will disrupt their investigative abilities.

The phone encrypts emails, photos and contacts based on a complex mathematical algorithm that uses a code created by, and unique to, the phone’s user — and that Apple says it will not possess.

The result, the company is essentially saying, is that if Apple is sent a court order demanding that the contents of an iPhone 6 be provided to intelligence agencies or law enforcement, it will turn over gibberish, along with a note saying that to decode the phone’s emails, contacts and photos, investigators will have to break the code or get the code from the phone’s owner.

Breaking the code, according to an Apple technical guide, could take “more than 5 1/2 years to try all combinations of a six-character alphanumeric passcode with lowercase letters and numbers.” (Computer security experts question that figure, because Apple does not fully realize how quickly the N.S.A. supercomputers can crack codes.)

Already the new phone has led to an eruption from the director of the F.B.I., James B. Comey. At a news conference on Thursday devoted largely to combating terror threats from the Islamic State, Mr. Comey said, “What concerns me about this is companies marketing something expressly to allow people to hold themselves beyond the law.”

He cited kidnapping cases, in which exploiting the contents of a seized phone could lead to finding a victim, and predicted there would be moments when parents would come to him “with tears in their eyes, look at me and say, ‘What do you mean you can’t’” decode the contents of a phone.

Continue reading.

11 Comments on "Apple Locks Out NSA with iPhone 6"

  1. BuzzCoastin | Sep 28, 2014 at 1:55 pm |

    yeah, I bought that “story” hook line and sinker
    as did the ISIS gang

  2. Locks out the NSA? Wanna bet?

  3. lol yeah, OK…

  4. InfvoCuernos | Sep 28, 2014 at 4:04 pm |

    I especially like the part about the FBI being outraged by this new development. Nice touch. I wonder if these phones include backdoors for shutting down the camera and preventing live streaming.

    • Steve Rush | Sep 28, 2014 at 8:50 pm |

      I wonder if these phones include a backdoor for silently enabling the camera, the microphone and the GPS receiver while making the device appear to be powered down. It’s all just software, after all.

      • InfvoCuernos | Sep 28, 2014 at 10:42 pm |

        Ya, phones present the fuzz with a real conundrum: they can get the public to carry and actually pay for personal bug/trackers, but the dang things have the nasty habit of capturing pigs indulging in abuses. I’m sure they’re working on that obstacle, if they haven’t already mastered it.

        • terrasodium | Sep 28, 2014 at 10:54 pm |

          Full face storm trooper helmets with cloth mask atop an urban assault tank have been the haute couture for the tabla rasa policing agent with orders to fill

  5. Echar Lailoken | Sep 28, 2014 at 4:47 pm |

    One of the reasons I dislike so many pop music groups is because of the heavy rotation. Add on top of that Apple’s intention to assert that their products are news worthy. IMO, apple is the Knickleback of consumerist products.

  6. VaudeVillain | Sep 28, 2014 at 10:41 pm |

    5 1/2 years to bruteforce a 6-character alphanumeric? With what, an abacus?

    Even if everything else they claim is true, which is unlikely to say the least, their estimated entropy on a string that length is just incorrect.

    If you truly want law enforcement/intelligence agencies to have trouble breaking your communications, develop a cant shared only by the people you trust so you can openly discuss… whatever… by apparently discussing something else. This can only be broken if they’re able to get someone who knows to go on record explaining the system.

    If you really want the NSA out of your shit, properly generate and use one-time pads. Then, just for laughs, do the above as well; that way, even if broken they still need to get a person you trust on record.

    If you REALLY need to keep it a secret, do not commit it to electronics. Speak face to face, or in handwritten documents that are properly destroyed after reading. Keep chain of possession tight and trustworthy, and always avoid witnesses. Nobody so much as carries a phone or similar device to the rendezvous, and definitely no automobiles or other motorized vehicles.

    If that isn’t good enough… then just keep it the fuck to yourself. A secrecy circle of one is the easiest to keep by a long shot.

    If the alphabet soup agencies want to get at your data, they will do so whether Apple lets them or not. They don’t really need anyone to cooperate. If you want to avoid that, then you need to not be lazy or stupid enough to keep it where they can ever possibly do so. If you can’t avoid posting photos of yourself doing… whatever… to twitter, don’t scream “hacked” when the cops find it; your stupid ass put it there for them in the first place.

  7. JudgeDredd69 | Sep 30, 2014 at 6:21 am |

    LoL (Computer security experts question that figure, because Apple does not fully realize how quickly the N.S.A. supercomputers can crack codes.) Really?

Comments are closed.