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Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association Blasts Apple Over Encryption Issue

Tim Cook

Tim Cook

By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The battle is on with Apple, which has vowed to fight a federal court order to help the FBI undo the encryption for a phone that belonged to one of the terrorists in the San Bernardino shooting on Dec. 2.

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted a letter online Wednesday night:

“In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.

“The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”

Now, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association (FLEOA), is firing back with a statement from Nathan Catura:

Tim Cook has grossly misrepresented the intentions of the FBI and the federal government. His implication that the US government wants to break into Apple customers’ phones is akin to police searching a person’s home without a warrant.

Before the FBI or any law enforcement agency is able to search someone’s phone, they must first obtain a court order issued by a federal judge or magistrate. In this case, it is outrageous for the CEO of one of the largest technology companies to suggest that federal agents are invading individuals’ privacy after the lawful presentation of a federal court order. Tim Cook is employing fear-mongering tactics to prevent law enforcement from performing their duties.

For the safety of all Americans, it is imperative that we continue to support and protect our national interest and national security. That is the goal. Unfortunately, Tim Cook is neglecting this fact which begs the question: how many more lives will be ruined or lost because the likes of Tim Cook and other billionaires who have a financial stake in the industry don’t believe in American jurisprudence?

This is a country of laws and no one, not even Tim Cook, is above that. He stands here, without any legal merit, actively choosing to ignore a federal court order. His arrogance has given him a false sense of superiority when it is in fact his responsibility as an American citizen to recognize and adhere to our system of laws, which were put in place to ensure both individual and national security. Tim Cook does not get to decide what laws he must comply with. That’s not the American way of justice.

 

It’s time for Apple and Tim Cook to abide by the law and do their part to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil.”

Wife of Jailed CIA Whistleblower Asks President Obama to Pardon Her Husband

CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.

CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The wife of CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling is asking President Obama to pardon her husband, presenting the White House with a petition with 100,000 signatures, the Intercept reports. 

Sterling is serving 3.5 years in prison after passing along classified information to a New York Times reporter.

“Justice at some point is going to be served,” wife Holly Sterling said Wednesday at a news conference in the National Press Club. “The truth must come out. He is innocent, and he has always been innocent.”

Fellow CIA whistleblower John Kiriako said Sterling “did exactly what he was supposed to do when he encountered a program of waste, fraud, abuse, or illegality.”

In June, Sterling was imprisoned in Colorado following a trial in which prosecutors relied on phone and e-mails of the reporter, James Risen, to show that CIA whistleblower provided classified information.

Other Stories of Interest

Washington Post: Why Apple’s Fight Against FBI Is Important to Your Security

By Bruce Schneier
Washington Post

Earlier this week, a federal magistrate ordered Apple to assist the FBI in hacking into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple will fight this order in court.

The policy implications are complicated. The FBI wants to set a precedent that tech companies will assist law enforcement in breaking their users’ security, and the technology community is afraid that the precedent will limit what sorts of security features it can offer customers. The FBI sees this as a privacy vs. security debate, while the tech community sees it as a security vs. surveillance debate.

The technology considerations are more straightforward, and shine a light on the policy questions.

The iPhone 5c in question is encrypted. This means that someone without the key cannot get at the data. This is a good security feature. Your phone is a very intimate device. It is likely that you use it for private text conversations, and that it’s connected to your bank accounts. Location data reveals where you’ve been, and correlating multiple phones reveal who you associate with. Encryption protects your phone if it’s stolen by criminals. Encryption protects the phones of dissidents around the world if they’re taken by local police.  It protects all the data on your phone, and the apps that increasingly control the world around you.

This encryption depends on the user choosing a secure password, of course. If you had an older iPhone, you probably just used the default four-digit password. That’s only 10,000 possible passwords, making it pretty easy to guess. If the user enabled the more-secure alphanumeric password, that means a harder-to-guess password.

Apple added two more security features on the iPhone. First, a phone could be configured to erase the data after too many incorrect password guesses. And it enforced a delay between password guesses. This delay isn’t really noticeable by the user if you type the wrong password and then have to retype the correct password, but it’s a large barrier for anyone trying to guess password after password in a brute-force attempt to break into the phone.

But that iPhone, an older model, has a security flaw. While the data is encrypted, the software controlling the phone is not. This means that someone can create a hacked version of the software and install it on the phone without the consent of the phone’s owner and without knowing the encryption key. This is what the FBI — and now the court — is demanding Apple do: It wants Apple to rewrite the phone’s software to make it possible to guess possible passwords quickly and automatically.

The FBI’s demands are specific to one phone, which might make its request seem reasonable if you don’t consider the technological implications: Authorities have the phone in their lawful possession, and they only need help seeing what’s on it in case it can tell them something about how the San Bernardino shooters operated. But the hacked software the court and the FBI wants Apple to provide would be general. It would work on any phone of the same model. It has to.

To read more click here. 

FBI Raids Law Office of State Sen. Brian Joyce As Part of Ongoing Federal Probe

State Sen. Brian Joyce

State Sen. Brian Joyce

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An ongoing federal investigation of Massachusetts state Sen. Brian Joyce advanced Wednesday as the FBI and IRS conducted “court authorized activity” that included a raid at the Democrat’s law office, the Boston Herald reports. 

Joyce previously was under fire for using nearly $5,000 in campaign funds to pay for his son’s 2014 high school graduation party.

Gov. Charlie Baker also has called for a state Ethics Commission investigation after the Boston Globe reported that Joyce was receiving free dry cleaning for more than a decade.

Baker said he was “troubled by some of the issues that were raised previously with respect to the senator’s relationship with some of the folks in his district.”

Joyce’s attorney Howard Cooper said his client was cooperating with authorities.

“It is unfortunate that recent stories in the media appear to have sparked an investigation,” Cooper’s statement read. “Senator Joyce has been cooperating with each inquiry that has taken place to date resulting from those stories and believes that he has done absolutely nothing wrong.”

GOP Presidential Candidates Cruz, Carson, Trump Side with FBI on Fight with Apple

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Republican presidential candidates Ted Cruz, Ben Carson and Donald Trump defended the FBI’s battle with Apple over encrypted data on a cellphone belonging to the San Bernardino attackers.

Their positions were made clear during a televised town hall Wednesday night.

Another Republican presidential candidate, Marco Rubio, said the issue was complicated, the Los Angeles Times reports. 

“There has to be a way to deal with this issue,” Rubio said. “I don’t have a magic solution for it today … but I do know this: It will take a partnership between the technology industry and the government to solve this.”

Cruz acknowledged Apple’s “serious argument” over protecting privacy of iPhone users but said Apple ultimately is defying a searching warrant.

Carson attacked Apple’s mistrust of the government.

The remaining Republican candidates will appear at a televised town hall Thursday night, when they are expected to lay out their position on Apple’s fight with the FBI.

In a separate town hall meeting Wednesday, Trump called Apple “disgraceful” for rejecting a court order.

“We should force them to do it. We should do whatever we have to do,” Trump said during an MSNBC town hall in Charleston, S.C.

ATF Recovers Two Dozen Homemade Hand Grenades in Alabama Factory

atf badgeBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The ATF recovered 24 homemade hand grenades from a factory in a residential neighborhood near Birmingham, Ala.

AL.com reports that the grenades pose a grave danger, not only because grenades are destructive, but because they were made with faulty fuses and live explosives.

“We’re not sure exactly how many are out there yet,” said David Hyche, ATF’s assistant special agent in charge in Alabama. “We know we recovered 24 that were in the process of being made. We know that hand grenades had been sold in the City of Birmingham to an illegal alien drug trafficker. So if they’ll be sold to that guy, they’ll be sold to anybody.”

Hyche said the grenades were seriously flawed.

“Homemade fuses most likely, at best, will have no delay, and, at worst, will go off when you don’t want them to,” he said. “The kill radius on a hand grenade is about 10 meters, or 30 feet.”

Mayor of Texas Town Wants Federal Probe Over Arabic Flag Expressing ‘Love for All’

Photo via Twitter.

Photo via Twitter.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The mayor of a Texas town is calling for Homeland Security and the FBI to investigate a large flag with Arabic writing found hanging off a downtown building.

Huffington Post reports that the flag read, “Love for all,” in Arabic.

But Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson said he’s still “concerned on several levels” and wants federal authorities to investigate.

“It has been brought to my attention that an Arabic flag has been hung from one of the upper floors of the Omni building,” Robertson said in a letter sent to City Manager James Loomis. “I am requesting that the flag be removed immediately, that we get an accurate translation of the flag, and that Chief Stevens notify the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI, and our Lubbock County Sheriff’s Department.”

“I fully understand that we must gather more facts before we make a knee jerk reaction but I am concerned on several levels,” he added.

The flag, which includes a heart, was posted around Valentine’s Day.

Other Stories of Interest

Apple CEO Opposes Judge’s Order to Unlock iPhone in Wake of San Bernardino Attacks

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Apple CEO Tim Cook.

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple CEO Tim Cook fired back at a federal judge’s order to help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the Dec. 2 terrorist attack in San Bernadino, saying the demands were “unprecedented,” The Washington Post reports. 

“We have great respect for the professionals at the FBI, and we believe their intentions are good,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a strongly worded open letter. “Up to this point, we have done everything that is both within our power and within the law to help them. But now the U.S. government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create. They have asked us to build a backdoor to the iPhone.”

A magistrate judge in Riverside, Calif., signed an order Tuesday to request that Apple disable a feature that erases phone data after 10 unsuccessful attempts to enter the password. That way, the judge said, investigators would have a better shot at cracking the password by using tens of millions of combinations without the data being deleted.

The FBI has been unable to access data on the phone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers.

“It has been two months now, and we are still working on it,” FBI Director James Comey told Congress last week.

The couple was using an iPhone5C.

Cook said in an open letter that Apple was “challenging the FBI’s demands with the deepest respect for American democracy and a love of our country. We believe it would be in the best interest of everyone to step back and consider the implications.”