Feeds

back to article Thanks for nothing, Apple, say forensic security chaps

Felons wanting to best forensic investigators need only perform a factory reset of all current model iPhones, say forensic security experts. Apple's decision to encrypt data on the iPhone is responsible for this state of affairs because a factory reset erases the decryption key required to reveal the handset's contents, …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Trollface

Alternate article title

"Good on you, Apple, says rest of the world" ?

50
0

Re: Alternate article title

Right. I'm no Apple fan, but how would making a platform secure be a bad thing?

37
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Alternate article title

Hypothetical question - is there an app that will perform a factory reset automatically if you don't tell it not to every 8 hours? Useful if your iPhone is lost and found and kept in a Faraday cage to prevent it connecting a network and receiving a remote wipe command.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Alternate article title

The downside is that if you accidentally erase a photo it disappears for good unless there is a backup in the cloud.

0
6
Bronze badge

Re: Alternate article title

No need, the default action is to wipe the phone after 8 failed login attempts. With iCloud, your data is all backed up so this poses no problem. Once wiped the device is effectively bricked until your Apple ID is used to unlock it again (although I've not Googled for workarounds to this to be fair)

0
1
Anonymous Coward

Re: Alternate article title

If the data on the phone is encrypted anyway - yes guess I'd prefer the phone was wiped securely (if it had been stolen - and you would assume someone putting it in a faraday cage probably does not intend to return it) - but for most users it's still secure.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Alternate article title

With iCloud, your data is all backed up so this poses no problem

LOL. If you want a phone to reset forensically secure, using iCloud seems a tad ill advised :).

10
0
Bronze badge

Re: Alternate article title

I don't want my phone forensically secure, I just want it wiped when it gets lost and I want to keep my data.

2
0
Bronze badge

Re: Alternate article title

"Hypothetical question - is there an app that will perform a factory reset automatically if you don't tell it not to every 8 hours?"

You can do it with a simple javascript.

0
2
Silver badge

Re: Alternate article title (@Richard Taylor 2)

I really don't think you can. Why would Safari have any access to the device's login password or the wipe feature? And if it could be done "with a simple JavaScript" then wouldn't the script kiddies have had a lot of fun by now?

0
1
Bronze badge
Facepalm

Re: Alternate article title

What!?! No breaking phones in half and throwing them into public trash cans, like Mr. White in "Breaking Bad"????

NAAAaa! That's too easy!

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Alternate article title

Surely this is exactly what a factory reset should do? I wouldn't want to sell my phone, if I knew that even after a factory reset the original contents could be restored...

0
0
Bronze badge

Re: Alternate article title (@Richard Taylor 2)

Because if you have a user id, and a password you can wipe your own device.... simples. Please read my post properly. I did not claim it was a generic 'snark apple' thing. Idiot.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: Alternate article title @JCitizen

Just plug them in to charge with certain third-party chargers?

0
0
Silver badge

Would this not also be an issue for blackberry handsets which are encrypted and then wiped?

Or is this a matter of need secure comms? We have this unbreakable encryption called enigma we got from the nazis after the war you might be interested in.

1
0
TRT
Silver badge

I've got this cheap Chinese knock off of a Samsung phone. That has an Enigma keyboard. Well, no matter what key you press 99% of the time some other character appears on the screen.

7
0
Silver badge

I would assume it'd be just as much an issue for BlackBerry devices but the expectations are different: RIM made security its touchstone feature and has always marketed primarily to businesses. Apple claims security but has primarily been consumer oriented, where customers tend not to care so much.

0
0

but surely much of your data will still be up there on the Apple cloud - to be rifled there - no?

4
0

No.

Well, maybe.

It's complicated, but if you take all the default user options you still don't get everything backed up in the cloud, apps can have a temporary data area that isn't backed up, usually it's used for things that can be downloaded again and are large so you don't want them backed up because they just fill your backup space (iOS will default to backing up application data). Financial apps normally use this area for authorisation data, so that if you restore a device the data is not present and you have to re-authorise.

That's the default position, so already not all of your data would be in the cloud, although you should still be able to recover a device; you just re-download any content from the relevant provider after a restore. Even with this option you can still have calendar entries and contacts that are only stored on the phone if you wish.

After that, you have options. Most secure thing to do would be to simply not configure a cloud account if you're worried about security.

Next thing you could do is to disable backup of specific apps to the cloud, which should work quite well given the sandboxed nature of iOS.

After that, depending on the data you want to keep secure, you could use a specifc app that provides the security you want, they normally feature an additional level of encryption, so that even their backup data can't be easily breached.

And, of course, there's always the option of either writing your own app or paying someone to write one for you that has the features you want.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

but surely much of your data will still be up there on the Apple cloud - to be rifled there - no?

Correct, certainly after Apple quietly removed the ability to just sync between laptop and iDevices from iTunes (a couple of months back). There is, however, a way around that: use your own groupware server. That way you have contact, calendar and email sync without giving it all away to the US.

0
0
PJI
Bronze badge

Apple quietly removed the ability to just sync between laptop and iDevices

Yes, this was one of the sillier things to do, showing complete cultural and non-USA legal ignorance or just extraordinary naivety. I gather that even in USA the innocent sometimes do have something to fear.

However, I have seen that beta test versions of the new iTunes release have reinstated this. So fingers crossed and, if true in the customer release, glad that Apple does react to customers' remarks, eventually.

So, as far as the "cloud" network storage goes, just disable it. If you really need it, choose one of the new services from Germany or, less handy for most people, install one on your own laptop and continue to sync locally. But this was foolish of Apple, both in terms of security and reality (strangely, outside American coffee shop chains, large parts of the world, even in the most advanced "1st world" countries, are not on free wifi networks away from home, or even mobile telephone networks. Yet one may still want to back up the device to a mobile computer that is with you (or a tablet, is that possible? No idea, no tablet).

0
0
Bronze badge

"Correct, certainly after Apple quietly removed the ability to just sync between laptop and iDevices from iTunes (a couple of months back)."

Errm... I just checked. I can back up my 5s to my system. Indeed, the system shows a backup made on 6 April 2014. I just connected the device to my system and am starting a new backup. (Thanks for reminding me to back up...)

When did you say that Apple removed this feature, and when did they put it back, 'cause I never missed not having it and I have the latest version of iTunes (11.1b5, if you must know.)

2
0

This is the "sync contacts and calendars" directly between computer and iThing option in the Info tab, which disappeared with iTunes 11 but is now on the way back.

iTunes still has backup+restore functions.

0
0
Silver badge

They would need a warrant to access the backup.

They are searching phones without a warrant (in the US at lease) as they claim it's no different then your wallet. If they can't they will see this as a problem that needs to be fixed so they can.

1
0
Bronze badge

Ah. I just back everything up. That gets the contacts and calendars as well.

0
0
Silver badge

Depends who you want to keep your data secret from. If it is the government, then iCloud is a problem. If it is someone who has stolen your phone, it is less of a problem.

0
0
Silver badge

And yet no advantage for the common user

Since Apple can just push a new firmware to every user... which can simply read out all the data and transmit it everywhere you want.

Encryption is fairly useless unless you have control over the hardware that encrypts. If you control that hardware you can just bypass the encryption or read out the secret keys.

4
4
Silver badge

Re: And yet no advantage for the common user

>Encryption is fairly useless unless you have control over the hardware that encrypts.

Useless to the common user? No it isn't. Most users aren't in fear of well funded agencies. What is a threat to them is losing their phone and have a criminal access their on-line accounts, or else a mate access their nudey pictures.

7
0
Bronze badge
Pint

Re: And yet no advantage for the common user

CB: "Since Apple can just push a new firmware..."

Why would they need "push new firmware" to do that when they can just command it to perform those remote access (or equivalent) functions already? Probably a single packet.

0
0
Silver badge
Facepalm

Boo. Hoo..

"Forensic Security Experts" complaining that criminals are making their life hard? What's next, complaining said criminals are not 'fessing up as soon as an eyebrow is raised and a tut-tut is uttered?

Really... Some people...

19
1
Silver badge

Re: Boo. Hoo..

They'll be making it a criminal offence to not just hand over passwords next...

19
0

Re: Boo. Hoo..

> They'll be making it a criminal offence to not just hand over passwords next...

I still don't believe that law can possibly be legal. Anyone sentenced for withholding passwords should definitely appeal to EU court.

6
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Boo. Hoo..

you're absolutely wrong, security experts would NEVER lobby for that, it'd put them out of their jobs!

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Bronze badge

Re: Boo. Hoo..

Someones bought a time machine!

http://www.pcpro.co.uk/news/361693/teenager-jailed-for-refusing-to-reveal-encryption-keys

Under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000, Part III, it is an offence to withhold passwords and the teenager was convicted last month of failing to disclose his key.

Read more: Teenager jailed for refusing to reveal encryption keys | News | PC Pro

4
0
Silver badge

Re: Boo. Hoo..

> They'll be making it a criminal offence to not just hand over passwords next...

Hehe. With the 5s, despite all the encryption tech, it's actually easier for the cops to unlock an iPhone than ever before: They merely have to hold your finger over the home button.

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Boo. Hoo..

"Hehe. With the 5s, despite all the encryption tech, it's actually easier for the cops to unlock an iPhone than ever before: They merely have to hold your finger over the home button."

Won't do 'em much good if 'Touch ID' is turned off, as it is on my 5s. And, oh, I've changed the silly 4-digit, numbers only, passcode to the alphanumeric multi-character passphrase. the poor lads will have to put some effort into breaking in.

1
0

Re: Boo. Hoo..

not only passwords but cryptographic private keys as well.

There are countries who are trying this e.g. France.

So much for laws stating you don't have to aid in your own conviction.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Boo. Hoo..

If you are at the US boarder, you are not IN the US and have no rights at all. They can already require you to unlock any device so they can snoop for any reason, or just because they don't like you, or think your hat is funny.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Boo. Hoo..

Tom 35: "If you are at [or within 100 miles of] the US border..."

There, I fixed it for you.

1
0
Bronze badge
Facepalm

Re: Boo. Hoo..

@Grikath - so, you're saying Apple are criminals?

0
0
Bronze badge
Coffee/keyboard

Re: Boo. Hoo..

I keep reading they can do this in the US too - but that just doesn't compute that you can just throw the 5th Amendment out the window without a Supreme Court battle. It may even be a 4th and 10th Amendment issue as well when looking at the whole of it. Perhaps no one has fought it because of the preponderance of the evidence other than what is encrypted made the revelation of it unnecessary? Hmm?! Of course these have been border crossing cases, and maybe they think even US Citizens rights end at the border?

1
0
Bronze badge

Re: Boo. Hoo..

They'll be making it a criminal offence to not just hand over passwords next...

I thought it already was...

0
1
Bronze badge

solid state wiping

So.. what's the science here then ?

I understand wiping a HD to zeros, can still be read with electron microscope.

but if you wipe solid state with zeros... how on earth can you get anything back even it if isn't encrypted ?

0
0
Silver badge

Re: solid state wiping

Not an electron microscope, but a magnetic head with greater resolution than that which normaly lives in the drive. The drive is dismantled into individual platters before hand.

Which is why you don't use zeroes. Instead you use randomn data, and several passes at that. Nuke n Boot does this, and OSX has an option to do the same to user-erased data on the fly. Of course this incurs a performance penalty.

I'm sure there have been some papers published on recovering data from solid state storage.

3
0
Silver badge

Re: solid state wiping

In this case, it's not zeroes. The flash is encrypted at the partition level, so it all looks like noise. The wipe wipes out the key needed to make it make sense, and it probably does this by putting a new key in its place.

3
0
TRT
Silver badge

Re: solid state wiping

Encryption key not derived from e.g. fingerprint sensor. Factory reset would then require copious amounts of strong acid.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

I'd say this is a PLUS for Apple from a user point of view.

Funny how the government want's it's own stuff to be secure / encrypted but for the rest of us plebs - nah...

4
0
Anonymous Coward

"Funny how the government want's it's own stuff to be secure / encrypted but for the rest of us plebs - nah..."

Like teachers and pupils, troop leaders and scouts, parents and children. Officers and enlisted men. Wardens and prisoners. Abductors and abductees. Cunts and the rest of us.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Hmm so do I trust Apple who control the device hardware / software / cloud end-to-end and specifically build in security enhancements like fingerprint readers / encryption chips or Samsung / others plus Google (who make their profits specifically mining your data / selling ads on the back of it).

Think it's a win for Apple.

5
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.