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Tag: technology

FBI Director Says Bureau ‘Purchased a Tool’ to Unlock iPhone

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI Director James Comey said the FBI “purchased a tool” to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Comey, who made the disclosure during a speech at Ohio’s Kenyon College, didn’t elaborate on the technology.

“The people that we bought this [tool] from – I know a fair amount about them and I have a high degree of confidence that they are very good at protecting it, and their motivations align with ours,” Comey said during a question-and-answer period following his talk, Fox News reports. 

The FBI is expected to share details with some members of Congress.

Comey said the technology only works on an iPhone 5C.

“This doesn’t work on [an iPhone] 6S, doesn’t work in a 5S, and so we have a tool that works on a narrow slice of phones,” he added.

WhatsApp Poised to Become Subject of Next Justice Department Encryption Showdown

WhatsApp

WhatsApp

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple isn’t the only tech company fighting the FBI over privacy concerns.

The FBI is in court with WhatsApp, which allows users to send messages and make phone calls over the Internet, the New York Times reports.

The world’s largest mobile messaging service has added encryption that makes it impossible for the Justice Department to access, even when a judge orders a wiretap.

WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook, and the Justice Department declined to comment because the case is under seal. But it does not involve terrorism.

The Times wrote:

To understand the battle lines, consider this imperfect analogy from the predigital world: If the Apple dispute is akin to whether the F.B.I. can unlock your front door and search your house, the issue with WhatsApp is whether it can listen to your phone calls. In the era of encryption, neither question has a clear answer.

Guardian Columnist: Calm Down, FBI. The Web Won’t Go Dark Anytime Soon

Apple logoJohn Naughton
Guardian

The Apple v FBI standoff continues to generate more heat than light, with both sides putting their case to “the court of public opinion” — which, in this case, is at best premature and at worst daft. Apple has just responded to the court injunction obliging it to help the government unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernadino killers with a barrage of legal arguments involving the first and fifth amendments to the US constitution. Because the law in the case is unclear (there seems to be only one recent plausible precedent and that dates from 1977), I can see the argument going all the way to the supreme court. Which is where it properly belongs, because what is at issue is a really big question: how much encryption should private companies (and individuals) be allowed to deploy in a networked world?

In the meantime, we are left with posturing by the two camps, both of which are being selective with the actualité, as Alan Clark might have said. Apple is staking a claim to the high moral ground: this is not just about one phone, it says, but about the security and privacy of millions of citizens everywhere. Agreeing to the FBI’s request to write a special version of the phone’s operating system that would disable its in-built blocking mechanism against automated password guessing would set a very dangerous precedent that governments everywhere would exploit. True, especially in China, where, coincidentally, Apple sells more iPhones than it does in the US.

The FBI, for its part, is trying a two-pronged approach. One is the soothing tone: don’t worry about a precedent, they say, we just want to get the data off this one phone. The FBI should tell that to the marines, or at any rate to prosecutors all over the US who have iPhones that they want Apple to unlock. The Manhattan district attorney, to name just one, has 175 of the darned things. So if Apple is forced to concede in the end, it’ll find a long queue at its door.

The other part of the FBI strategy is also to stake a claim to the high moral ground. James Comey, its director, has been sounding off for ages that cyberspace is “going dark” (ie invisible to law enforcement) because of encryption and that this is intolerable. Over here, the same line has been energetically peddled by David Cameron. “In extremis,” he said recently, “it has been possible to read someone’s letter, to listen to someone’s call, to mobile communications… The question remains: are we going to allow a means of communications where it simply is not possible to do that? My answer to that question is: no, we must not.”

To read more click here. 

Other Stories of Interest

Verizon Sides with Apple in Fight with FBI Over Unlocking Cell Phone

VerizonBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The nation’s largest mobile carrier, Verizon Wireless, is siding with Apple in its fight against the FBI over unlocking an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters, The Verge reports. 

“Verizon is committed to protecting customer privacy and one of the tools for protecting that privacy is encryption,” Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said.

The CEO said Verizon supports “availability of strong encryption with no back doors.”

McAdam joined Apple’s Tim Cook in calling for Congress to arrive at a resolution so that the case isn’t decided by a single judge.

“The case with Apple presents unique issues that should be addressed by Congress, not on an ad-hoc basis,” McAdam said.

Verizon’s position has surprised some because the company helped the NSA with mass surveillance and bulk data-collection programs.

Protesters Plan to Stage Demonstrations in Support of Apple’s Fight with the FBI

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Protesters across the nation plan to stage demonstrations today to support Apple’s fight against the FBI’s attempt to force the company to unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Fight for the Future, a group that has organized demonstration on other tech issues, is organizing the protest, the Los Angeles times reports. 

Among the protest locations are San Francisco, Los Angeles and the FBI headquarters in Washington.

Protesters plan to carry banners reading, “FBI: Don’t Break Our Phones” and Secure Phones Save Lives.”

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook sent a letter to employees on Monday, saying “The case is about much more than a single phone or a single investigation. At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties.”

Other tech companies, such as Google, Twitter and Facebook, have expressed support for Apple. On Monday, Microsoft founder Bill Gates took sides with the FBI.

Facebook, Twitter Support Apple’s phone encryption battle with FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are siding with Apple’s fight against the FBI’s attempt to weaken encryption.

“We condemn terrorism and have total solidarity with victims of terror. Those who seek to praise, promote, or plan terrorist acts have no place on our services,” Facebook said in a statement Thursday.

“However, we will continue to fight aggressively against requirements for companies to weaken the security of their systems. These demands would create a chilling precedent and obstruct companies’ efforts to secure their products.”

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted: We stand with @timcook and Apple (and thank him for his leadership)!”

The comments come after a federal magistrate ordered Apple to make it easier to crack the iPhone’s password. The FBI has been unable to access an iPhone 5c that belonged to one of the San Bernardino killer.

Technology companies are worried about setting a legal precedent to allow the government to using hacking tools to access private information.

The FBI argues that the uncrackable encryption is thwarting its fight against terrorism.

FBI Director: Encrypted Communications ‘Big Problem’ in Fight Against Terrorism

Smart PhoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Encrypted communications are making it difficult for federal investigators to detect terrorism, FBI Director James Comey told a Senate committee on Wednesday, Business Insider reports. 

Comey called encryption a “big problem” that is thwarting investigators and pointed to the Garland, Texas shooting as an example.

“In May, when two terrorists attempted to kill a whole bunch of people in Garland, Texas, and were stopped by great local law enforcement … that morning before one of those terrorists went to attempt mass murder, he exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist,” Comey said.

“In May, when two terrorists attempted to kill a whole bunch of people in Garland, Texas, and were stopped by great local law enforcement … that morning before one of those terrorists went to attempt mass murder, he exchanged 109 messages with an overseas terrorist,” Comey said.

ISIS often communicates using encrypted communications.

“Terrorists are using encrypted communications and … very solid cryptography standards that haven’t been broken yet,” said David Kennedy, the CEO of TrustedSec who has worked with the Marine Corps’ cyberwarfare unit and the National Security Agency, in November.

FBI Abandons Plans to Require ‘Backdoors’ on All Consumer Tecnhology

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI has backed off plans to require all consumer technology to have a so-called backdoor so that law enforcement can spy on suspects, the Business Insider reports. 

On Wednesday, FBI general counsel James Baker said the bureau has abandoned the “magical thinking” that consumer technology will be outfitted with backdoor access.

“It’s tempting to try to engage in magical thinking and hope that the amazing technology sector we have in the United States can come up with some solution,” Baker said. “Maybe that’s just a bridge too far. Maybe that is scientifically and mathematically not possible.”

The FBI persistence on the issue caused strained relationships with tech companies, like Apply, Google and Facebook, all of whom were worried about privacy rights and a backdoor for hackers.