A Forensics Expert’s View into the FBI’s Request
The more we learn about the Apple/FBI dustup, the more clear it has become that this is actually a subtle and dangerous game of chess. The latest insight comes from Jonathan Zdziarski, considered to be among the world’s leading experts in iOS-related forensics. In a blog post, Zdziarski explains the difference between “lab services” and developing an “instrument.” Apple has provided one-off lab services in the past to help law enforcement recover data when required by law. But developing an instrument is a tremendously involved, verified, documented, tested, and validated process. It would require significant resources and would result in the hacking tool being made public and usable by any law enforcement or intelligence agency — along with foreign governments and criminal organizations. That’s why Apple is resisting.
Would Apple object to providing one-off lab services rather than developing software or an instrument?
Further, isn't it just a matter of time before such an instrument is developed by a former Apple employee or an Apple competitor or a government electronic device specialist?
There are a number of ways to find out what a cell phone user is doing without hacking his phone - cell tower analysis, telephone toll records, court-ordered wire communication interceptions, including the interception of text messages. If the FBI can do all of these things, with a court order, why is developing this instrument so much more sinister?
I think Apple has provided those one-off services in the past. Did you read the New York Times article we linked to previously?
It's not at all clear that there's any useful information on this iPhone - the FBI already has the metadata surrounding all communications it made, and all iCloud-related data that Apple was legally required to provide already (since it was under Apple's control).
wow, quite incredible. Thanks for linking to this fascinating article. I’ve read dozens of articles about this case now, and none have mentioned the forensics angle. The FBI is really attempting at something quite sneaky: not to mention fighting the case in the public eye, with lots of misdirection and obfuscation.