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Apple’s iOS Encryption Baffles Police

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Despite recent complaints about iOS security, it’s effective against at least one group: law enforcement. According to Declan McCullagh at CNET, police departments around the country are sufficiently stymied by iOS device encryption that they’re turning to Apple for help. They’ve flooded Apple with so many requests for assistance decrypting confiscated iPhones that Apple is putting them on a waiting list of up to 4 months. Of course, the flip side of this story is the suggestion that Apple has a backdoor method of cracking iPhone encryption.favicon follow link


Comments about Apple’s iOS Encryption Baffles Police
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Dan Daranciang  An apple icon for a TidBITS Contributor 2013-05-11 06:40
I hope Apple doesn't actually have a backdoor, and is just acting as a tech expert for police departments who aren't monied enough to have tech experts of their own. If there is a backdoor, then someone else will find it, and it's not like Apple's security has been so awesome in the past (see: iCloud password reset hack the day after two-factor authentication was introduced).
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2013-05-11 11:04
Yeah, that's the concern. If Apple's encryption was truly unbreakable, I'd think that even Apple wouldn't be able to get in, expertise or no. Although, if it were as easy as a backdoor, perhaps there wouldn't be such a backlog of requests.
Francis S Key  2013-05-11 13:56
10 + yrs. ago, working as a police detective in Calif., I was trained as a forensic computer examiner. This included gleaning data from the computers and cell phones of that era. There was hardware and software for that purpose made available from device manufacturers and their affiliates. At the time there was far less info on encryption being shared, but it did exist, and there were discussions on the implementation of 'backdoors'.

It is logical, in our current 'world', that consumer devices (if not all) that interface with national, and international communications, are allowed, because they meet non-public (secret) demands for access (backdoors). To believe otherwise is unrealistic.

Why would the PRC, or your choice of nation-state, allow it's population to use cellphones?
If there were backdoors, they would have long-since been found by the iphone jailbreak community. There's no secrets to the iOS devices, really. Something would have to be implemented at the hardware/firmware level, and even that has no real secrets at this point.