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FBI Tries to Crack Other Smartphones: 5 Important Reads

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Editor’s Note: The following is a summary of the archival stories.

Federal investigators following the Nov. 5 church shooting in Texas seized the alleged shooter’s smartphone — reportedly an iPhone — but reportedly failed to release it. lock decrypt encryption And read any information or messages stored in the device.

The situation adds further fuel to an ongoing dispute over when, how, and how the police should be allowed to break encryption on a suspect’s tech device. Here are highlights from The Conversation’s coverage of debate

#1. The police never have free access to everything.

In recent years, the FBI and the US Department of Justice Especially since the mass shooting in San Bernardino. The state of California in 2015 demanded more for what they called the “Special access,” which is an encryption method that police can use to gather information about crime. Both future and past, Susan Landau, a technology and privacy scholar at Tufts University, argues that limitations and challenges to investigative powers are a democracy’s strength. Not a weakness:

“[L]Law enforcement often has to deal with blocking to obtain evidence. For example, the exclusion rule means that evidence gathered in violation of the constitutional protections of citizens is often disapproved in court.”

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In addition, she noted that almost any person or organization Including community groups can be targets for hackers. Therefore, strong encryption should be used to communicate and store data:

“A widespread threat to fundamental parts of American society poses serious dangers to national security, including personal privacy. There is a growing number of former senior law enforcement and national security officials. It comes out supporting end-to-end encryption and strong device protection. (like those Apple is developing) that can prevent hacking and other data theft events.”

#2. The FBI has other ways to get this information.

The idea of ​​making encryption weaker for everyone just to make it easier for police to have a hard time is increasingly recognized as ineffective, Ben Buchanan, a colleague at Harvard’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, writes in Replace,

“The future of law enforcement and intelligence gathering efforts related to digital data is a new field for me and others. exploring sometimes called “Legal hacking” instead of using a skeleton key that provides instant access to encrypted data. Government officials will have to find other technical means. This is often associated with malicious code. and other legal frameworks.”

He noted that when the FBI was unable to force Apple to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

“The FBI found another way the bureau outsourced that it could exploit vulnerabilities in the iPhone software and gain access. This isn’t the first time the office has done something like this.”

#3. It’s not just about iPhones.

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When a suspect’s iPhone in San Bernardino was targeted by investigators, Android researchers William Enck and Adwait Nadkarni of North Carolina State University attempted to crack the smartphone themselves. They found that one of the keys to encryption is proper settings:

“Overall, devices running the latest iOS and Android versions are protected from offline attacks. when properly configured by both the phone manufacturer and the end user. Older versions may be more vulnerable. One system can crack it in less than 10 seconds. Additionally, configuration and software flaws by phone manufacturers can compromise the security of Android and iOS devices.”

#4. What they are not looking for

What do researchers hope to find? They hardly looked at the emails the suspect might have sent or received, as Clark Cunningham, a constitutional scholar at Georgia State University, explains. without the owner of the email knowing:

“[The] The law allows governments to use warrants to receive electronic communications from service companies. instead of the actual owner of the email account. that is, the person who uses

The government then usually asks to “seal” the arrest warrant, which means it will not appear in public court records and will be hidden from you. worse The law allows the government to obtain what is known as “A gag order,” which is a court decision that prevents the company from telling you that it received a subpoena for your email.”

#5. The political stakes are high.

for this new case Federal officials risk diminishing public support. Due to granting auditors special privileges to circumvent or circumvent encryption. After the San Bernardino gunman’s phone controversy The public’s demands for privacy and encryption are on the rise. Carnegie Mellon Professor Rahul Telang writes:

“The stories repeat over and over again about data breaches and invasions of privacy. This one, especially from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, seems to be making users more interested in security and privacy. These two characteristics are important enough that companies Will find that advertising and public relations are profitable.

“Apple in particular has been stressing the security of its products lately and is reportedly doubling down on it and planning to make it harder for anyone to crack iPhones.”

It seems unlikely that this debate will ever end. Police will still need easy access to all information that could help prevent or solve crime. And the general public will continue to want to protect their personal data and communications from prying eyes, be it criminals, hackers or governments.

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