New York Law Enforcement Officials Operate $10 Million Lab Designed to Crack iPhones - MacRumors - Canada News Media
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New York Law Enforcement Officials Operate $10 Million Lab Designed to Crack iPhones – MacRumors

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Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. built and oversees a $10 million high-tech forensics lab built expressly for the purpose for cracking iPhones, according to a new profile done by Fast Company.

The lab is equipped with “mind-bending hardware” and a team of technology experts, many of whom are ex-military. The facility itself features a radiofrequency isolation chamber that prevents iPhones being used in investigations from being accessed remotely to keep them from being wiped.


Vance’s team has thousands of iPhones at the facility in various stages of being cracked. There’s a supercomputer that generates 26 million random passcodes per second, a robot that can remove memory chips without using heat, and specialized tools for repairing damaged devices to make them accessible once again.

All of the iPhones are hooked up to computers that are generating passcodes in an effort to get into the iPhones, and sometimes that requires going through tens of thousands of number combinations. Those who work at the facility, including director Steven Moran, also attempt to narrow down possibilities using birthdays, significant dates, and other info that could be used in each specific case for an iPhone passcode.

Proprietary workflow software tracks all of the iPhones at the facility, including their software and their importance, for the purpose of deciding which ‌iPhone‌ to work on and which might be able to be cracked using a newly found third-party solution.

Vance has been a major critic of Apple and has called on the government to introduce anti-encryption legislation to make it easier for law enforcement officials to get into iPhones needed for criminal investigations. According to Vance, 82 percent of smartphones that come into the unit are locked, and his cybercrime lab can crack “about half.”

Apple’s frequent software updates continually make breaking into iPhones harder by making the process more complicated, which can make it close to impossible to breach an ‌iPhone‌ in a timely manner. “The problem with that, particularly from a law enforcement perspective, is, first of all, time matters to us,” said Vance.

Vance believes that it’s “not fair” that Apple and Google can prevent law enforcement officials from accessing smartphones. Vance says that law enforcement is entrusted with a responsibility to “protect the public” but Apple and Google have limited access to information “just because they say so.” Vance is of the opinion that there should be a “balance” between protecting user privacy and getting justice for victims of crimes.

“That’s not their call. And it’s not their call because there’s something bigger here at issue rather than their individual determination of where to balance privacy and public safety. What’s bigger is you’ve got victims and you’ve got a law enforcement community who have strong imperatives that should be recognized and balanced equally with the subject decision-makers by the heads of Apple and Google. Today, I think it’s unbalanced.

Apple’s argument is that it provides ‌iPhone‌ data from iCloud without breaking into the ‌iPhone‌ itself, but Vance says that a serious criminal doesn’t have an ‌iCloud‌ backup. A user can also choose what information is stored remotely, and “in many cases” smartphones do not backup between the time when a crime takes place and an ‌iPhone‌ is shut off.

Law enforcement officials can also obtain device metadata like the time and location of a phone call from SIM cards or phone carriers, but Moran says that’s the difference between being able to read a letter and being limited to just the envelope the letter came in.

“Even if we are lucky enough to get into the cloud or even if we’re lucky enough to get some of the metadata, we’re still missing an awful lot of important information that’s critical to the investigation.”

Vance says that he’s not “whining” about the encryption problem, but his lab is “not the answer” as most of the U.S. can’t afford to do the work that the New York cyber lab does.

Fast Company‘s profile of Vance’s cyber lab comes as Apple is gearing up for another battle with the FBI. Apple has been asked to unlock the iPhones used by Florida shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, and while Apple has provided ‌iCloud‌ data, the company will fight requests to unlock the actual devices.

For more on New York’s High Technology Analysis Unit and facility, make sure to check out Fast Company‘s full profile.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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Apple Dropped iCloud Encryption Plans After FBI Complaint: Report – Infosecurity Magazine

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Apple dropped plans to offer end-to-end encrypted cloud back-ups to its global customer base after the FBI complained, a new report has claimed.

Citing six sources “familiar with the matter,” Reuters claimed that Apple changed its mind over the plans for iCloud two years ago after the Feds argued in private it would seriously hinder investigations.

The revelations put a new spin on the often combative relationship between the law enforcement agency and one of the world’s biggest tech companies.

The two famously clashed in 2016 when Apple refused to engineer backdoors in its products that would enable officers to unlock the phone of a gunman responsible for a mass shooting in San Bernardino.

Since then, both FBI boss Christopher Wray, attorney general William Barr and most recently Donald Trump have taken Apple and the wider tech community to task for failing to budge on end-to-end encryption.

Silicon Valley argues that it’s impossible to provide law enforcers with access to encrypted data in a way which wouldn’t undermine security for hundreds of millions of law-abiding customers around the world.

They are backed by world-leading encryption experts, while on the other side, lawmakers and enforcers have offered no solutions of their own to the problem.

Apple’s decision not to encrypt iCloud back-ups means it can provide officers with access to target’s accounts. According to the report, full device backups and other iCloud content was handed over to the US authorities in 1568 cases in the first half of 2019, covering around 6000 accounts.

Apple is also said to have handed the Feds the iCloud backups of the Pensacola shooter, whose case sparked another round of calls for encryption backdoors from Trump and others.

It’s not 100% clear if Apple dropped its encryption plan because of the FBI complaint, or if it was down to more mundane usability issues. Android users are said to be able to back-up to the cloud without Google accessing their accounts.

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The Morning After: Sonos 'legacy' plan makes smart homes look silly – Engadget

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Sponsored Links


Sonos

Hey, good morning! You look fabulous.

The more connected devices you put in your house, the more you’re counting down to the day they’re eventually obsolete. Just yesterday, we learned about Under Armour pulling the smart plug on some fitness devices it used to sell, but the big news is Sonos and its decision to put the “legacy” tag on a slew of older devices.

If you’re a Sonos fan from way back, then you probably have an older Play:5, Bridge or Zone player laying around, and now the company is telling you that it won’t get any more updates — ever. Even worse, simply continuing to use one of them could hold back your entire setup, new devices included, from receiving future updates. While the company says it’s working on a way to segment older hardware and avoid that situation, there’s enough bad news and uncertainty going around to make the situation real uncomfortable.

However things shake out for Sonos, I’m just looking around the room at various TV boxes, speakers and wristbands, trying to figure out how much time they have left.

— Richard


Calling all Photoshop experts.Is this the back of the Xbox Series X?

Now we’ve seen the next Xbox from the front, everyone is wondering what’s hiding on the other side. Pictures posted to gaming forum NeoGAF appear to show an Xbox Series X development kit in the wild, complete with a back plate lacking the Xbox One’s HDMI-passthrough setup. We’ll see if this alleged prototype holds up when the real hardware ships later this year, but for now all we have are rumors and speculation.


It will reportedly launch in March.Bloomberg: Apple will start making a smaller, cheaper iPhone in February

Apple might launch a new low-cost iPhone very, very soon. According to Bloomberg, the tech giant’s suppliers will start assembling a more affordable iPhone model, the first since the iPhone SE, as soon as February. Apple will reportedly unveil the cheaper-than-an-iPhone 11 device in March. Sources expect it to look like the iPhone 8, with a 4.7-inch screen and a current generation A13 chip, like 2019’s iPhones. Expect a return of the home button, and no Face ID.


Netflix and HBO Max will give more people access to deep-cut Ghibli classics.Studio Ghibli has embraced streaming, and the world is better for it

After years of resistance, Studio Ghibli is bringing its works to streaming services. In the US, it will launch in HBO’s Max service, while Netflix will stream the Japanese animations everywhere else, except Japan. Nick Summers explains why this is good news for all.


One app creates a printable envelope to put your phone in.Google’s experimental apps shame you into taming phone addiction

Activity Bubbles, Screen Stopwatch and Envelope are all part of the latest push from Google to get you to put your phone down (after you finish reading this, of course). The first two add on-screen reminders of how much time you’ve spent staring at a screen, while Envelope creates some physical separation. Do the apps go too far? Do they not go far enough? I can’t stay off my phone for long enough to check.


Up to five times as much as the usual price set by Uber.Uber experiment lets California drivers set their own fares

Uber is testing another new feature in what is presumably a bid to help mitigate the restrictions of Assembly Bill 5, which requires the company to treat its drivers as employees, not independent contractors. Some drivers in California will now have the ability to set their own fares.

Starting Tuesday morning, drivers operating around airports in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs and Sacramento can take part in a bidding system that allows them to increase fares in 10 percent increments, up to a maximum of five times the usual Uber price. When a ride is requested, Uber will match the rider with the driver with the lowest price. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, a person familiar with the new feature says that Uber is trialling it in smaller cities in a bid to limit potential damage to its business. What if other rideshare options are cheaper?


Two years ago…Apple reportedly dropped iCloud encryption plans amid FBI pressure

Apple may encrypt your iOS device’s locally stored data, but it doesn’t fully encrypt iCloud backups. According to Reuters sources, Apple dropped end-to-end encryption plans for iCloud, fearing another FBI confrontation. (This was following the debate over unlocking Syed Farook’s iPhone after the San Bernardino shooting.) One former Apple worker said the company might have ditched the plan over concerns customers could be locked out of their data more often.

That doesn’t mean your iCloud backup is open to all — anything in your Keychain, including passwords, as well as health data and payment information are all end-to-end encrypted.

But wait, there’s more…


The Morning After is a new daily newsletter from Engadget designed to help you fight off FOMO. Who knows what you’ll miss if you don’t Subscribe.

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All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

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Trump demands Apple unlock iPhones: 'They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds' – CNBC

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President Donald Trump, in a CNBC interview Wednesday, stepped up his pressure over Apple‘s refusal to unlock iPhones for authorities in criminal cases.

“Apple has to help us. And I’m very strong on it,” Trump told “Squawk Box” co-host Joe Kernen from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “They have the keys to so many criminals and criminal minds, and we can do things.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook has been credited with being able to work with the president and his administration in a way other Silicon Valley companies have stumbled. In November, Cook toured Apple’s Austin campus with Trump.

Trump told CNBC he’s helped Apple a lot.

“I’ve given them waivers, because it’s a great company, but it made a big difference.” The president was referring to waivers from tariffs put on Chinese-made imports in the trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Last week, Trump slammed Apple for declining the government’s request to unlock password-protected iPhones used by the shooter who killed three people in December at the Pensacola, Florida, Naval Air Station before being fatally shot.

In a statement, Apple said it provided gigabytes of information to law enforcement related to the Pensacola case but that it would not build a “backdoor” or specialized software to give law enforcement elevated access.

Trump told CNBC on Wednesday: “They could have given us that information. It would have been very helpful.”

The president said he’s not concerned about his relationship with Cook or Apple because the stakes are so high.

“You’re dealing with drug lords and you’re dealing with terrorists, and if you’re dealing with murderers, I don’t care,” Trump said.

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