Apple says it's to late to try to crack it because the password was changed while the phone was in police custody:
The US Department of Justice has today filed a motion compelling Apple to comply with a court order to help the FBI break into a killer's iPhone. On Tuesday, a magistrate judge in central California granted an order filed by the Feds that requires Apple to reprogram San Bernardino murderer Syed Farook's smartphone with a …
That story is a lot more complicated.
The FBI doesn't actually want to unlock the phone, they want the data on it. Apple told them a very clever way to get the data: If you turned on "iCloud Backup" on your phone, then every night your phone sends its data to iCloud. For that to happen the phone must be on a network that it trusts (like your home network), and iCloud Backup must be set up, and the phone must know your iCloud password. Which it will do. So your phone creates backups even when it is locked.
Apple told the FBI that they could do exactly that: Take the iPhone from the FBI to a place with a network it trusts (the criminals home network, or his workplace) and wait until it performs a backup, then pick up the data from iCloud which Apple can access and has accessed. Actually Apple did this for the FBI. It didn't work. It turned out that some dimwit had changed the iCloud password remotely while the phone was in the FBI's custody. So now to make it backup you first need to unlock the phone and type in the right iCloud password on the phone.
You can see at which step of this the FBI is now stuck. The FBI knows the new iCloud password. They just can't type it into the iPhone. And they don't know the old password, so they cannot change it back. Everyone knows that servers (like iCloud) don't store passwords. That's why no server that is safe can tell you your old password, they can only allow you to change your password to something new. If they knew the old password they could probably change it back and the iPhone might start backing up again.
Another hint that all of this case is just smoke and mirrors, and that the true goal of the FBI is getting a copy of the update plus all the data in the encrypted iPhone. It doesn't sound too farfetched that having these two ingredients and a ton of computing power, they'll be able to extract Apple's private key.
At least it seems that they would like to give it a try.
They'd love to break into that phone... in effort to make Android not look so bad after all.
Don't they also have that Quantum stuff ?
I also like the idea of cloning the storage and run a million emulators to brute force it...
But as others have said... this is not about whether it can be done technically or not.
This is about setting a precedent for future state sponsored privacy violation.
"I also like the idea of cloning the storage and run a million emulators to brute force it..."
Do you know how big 2^256 is? If, as is suspected, you'll have to, on average, search half the keyspace before hitting paydirt, that is 2^255 or about 6e+76 key attempts. Let's say you can do one per nanosecond (you'd need a hell of a computer, but let's say). That makes 6e+67 seconds. Let's say you have ten million of those computers. That means it'll only take 6e+60 seconds. Let's say there's a weakness in AES256 that you can exploit to give you trillion trillion trillion fold speed up. Now it's only going to take you about 6e+24 seconds.
That's only about 10 million times the current age of the universe.
@John H Woods
You sound like an Enigma Machine salesman circa 1938. LOL
Brute forcing & 'age of Universe' topic is a complete and utter red herring.
Although it's nice to know the basic rules of cryptography, it's even better to understand the exceptions.
The history of cryptography provides endless examples. It's clear that far too many have studied modern cryptography technology, and slept through the lesson-filled related history.
The Media collection at CCC.de provides a lovely peek under the covers. Watch even just a half-dozen examples, and you'll have to adopt an entirely different attitude.
The only subject with higher levels of naivete is the topic of Self-driving Cars.
The Enigma _was_ designed in the 1930's by what would today be considered amateurs. Polish mathematicians in the 1930's figured out "If we could intercept about 100 messages sent with the same settings, and if we were told the external cables used with these 100 messages, and if they haven't done something really clever, then we can reconstruct the exact design of the wheels". That was pre-war. The same settings where used for 3 months. A "spy" (I suspect a cleaner) reported how the cables were plugged in. And the wiring of the wheels was mathematically reconstructed.
The Enigma didn't produce arbitrary permutations of the input. Every single setting of the Enigma produced a permutation that would _exchange_ letters in 13 separate pairs of letters. And every initial rotor setting produced an exchange that followed some particular pattern that could be identified with a known clear text. As a result, with known clear text they only had to check 26 x 26 x 26 rotor settings to find the exact rotor settings, and then figuring out the cable connections was easy.
When a fourth wheel was added for extra security, it turned out that every four wheel encryption used the same settings for the first three wheels as everyone else. So instead of having a problem that was unsolvable in the 1940's, all they needed was to crack the three wheel enigma and then check 26 wheel positions for the last wheel.
SHA-256 has no known weaknesses. There is right now no way to crack it other than by brute force. 2^256 keys is so much that a mathematical breakthrough, followed by another mathematical breakthrough, followed by another one, doesn't get you anywhere near being able to crack it.
But the real problem is elsewhere. What the FBI wants isn't the contents of this one phone. What they want is to prevent people from having secure phones. What the NSA most certainly can't do is crack that phone at a cost that makes it worthwhile. They have more important things to do than cracking the secrets of a dead man.
"SHA-256 has no known weaknesses."
Individual *implementations* may have dozens or hundreds of weaknesses. It's extraordinarily unlikely that the iPhone 5C has a perfectly secure implementation.
You've either reviewed the encrypted hardware cracking presentations on CCC.de Media or you haven't. If you haven't, then you're living in La La Land.
That's pretty condescending. Read my response again properly and you will see that it is a response to someone suggesting cloning the storage and running "a million emulators" --- so none of the side channel, timing attacks etc. are available.
I would not be at all surprised if the phone can be cracked. But I would be very surprised indeed if a dump of its storage could be, especially because resistance to known plaintext is a particular characteristic of AES256.
This whole rigmarole is a farce - on BOTH sides of the argument.
The spangly fashion accessory in question does not belong to the murderer, it belongs to the company he worked for.
Perhaps I‘m a tad jaded but does that not suggest that this whole thing could be cleared up by the actual owner asking for it to be unlocked?
Now I do fully understand that the FBI is trying to set a precedent for phones to be unlocked upon request but surely Apple could simply sidestep the whole deal by stating that they will unlock the bloody thing for it`s rightful owner and the FBI be damned.
Instead we get a media circus where Apple can get some free advertisement and claim to be all fluffy and unicorn fondely.
Apparently, according the mainstream sources, Apple asked for this to be "public" for some reason. It's the why suddenly insist on "public" that's worrisome. Other sources maintain that Apple insisted on "secret" as they have done in the past but the FBI when "public".
The question is "why?" and what's behind this? Is this by mutual agreement for some reason?
Apple are rather clever on this and it may or may not cost them valuable business. But I suppose that is what the gamble is about.
I don't think Apple are simply not wanting to decrypt one phone with custom firmware. Some people are legitimising the behaviour towards Apple (not a fanboy) but when you think clearly, once Apple has written this custom firmware to decrypt phones it does not stop there. Going from a vocal court case the government simply has to put a secret court order in place to now hand over the tools and custom firmware to the FBI/NSA and they can indeed decrypt any phone they want. Apple are clearly trying to prevent a situation where no one knows.
Instead they are making a cake and eating it situation. They completely remove encryption, lose huge business and make the American economy take a massive hit. Or they leave encryption in place as is.
Like many have said before, it's either full encryption or no encryption. There is no middle ground.
Why don't governments around the world could just ban any and all encryption and obfuscation—to include things like steganography? They can simply justify it on the ground that ANY encryption becomes an existential threat to the State, making it a choice between tyranny and anarchy with no third option (because any attempt at it will inevitably slide toward one or the other).
Imagine the Russian sending all their stuff in plain text for the Americans to see or the Americans sending all their stuff for the Russians to see. One example, Russia now have all the specs for an iPhone clone and make their own to sell around the world because it was freely available by intercepting information across the internet.
Apple the company goes bankrupt and the American economy loses billions of dollars. Many people become unemployed, not just those directly employed by Apple, and then you get social unrest. The human race are by nature explorers and inventors. When we are not exploring or inventing we are fighting (aka. wars) which are obviously bad.
Basically anything that you want to be confidential would not longer be. Does not matter if it is a terrorist case or your new invention that a larger company has just stolen.
"Why don't governments around the world could just ban any and all encryption and obfuscation—to include things like steganography?"
And they'd enforce that how, exactly?
Not to mention the impact on freedom of speech, so beloved of our cousins across the Atlantic...
Beloved by the hoi polloi, not by those up top who only see the Constitution as "ink on a page." The biggest lesson of this age will probably be that representative government simply cannot last in the face of instinctive human greed; sooner or later, either SOMEONE will amass the power to usurp or more than one will and destroy everything around them in a winners take small infinite-stakes bid to remove the competition.
Why don't governments around the world could just ban any and all encryption and obfuscation—to include things like steganography?
How would you stop it? There's laws against speeding... yeah.. those work. There's laws against attacking and hacking computer systems... yeah... those work. Think about all the laws and tell me one, just one, that does work*.
*I'm speaking of legislated laws by a country, not physics or Newton's are Darwin's**.
** This is a maybe as lots of places try to repeal Darwin's.
OK, now we see who is really behind this attempt to build precedent, the FBI was really just a pawn.
To recap briefly:
- Apple has been ordered (no, not asked, ordered) to develop a way to break its own device, a device it spent many man years securing;
- The FBI & court allege they limit this order to a one-off whilst knowing full well that this would create legal precedent, in other words, a legal template to do this agin and again because they managed to get this approved last time;
- They have poured a liberal terrorist sauce over all of this, which is a red flag to anyone who has been watching DoJ and agencies since 9/11. We'll get back to that in a minute.
- This is not just about Apple. Such a precedent will be abused almost immediately to force other US companies into compliance and force them to start working on breaking their own customer security;
- There is no doubt in my mind that such a precedent will start an absolute FLOOD of demands from every US provider of equipment and services of note as part of a simple campaign of brute harassment. The aim of such a campaign would be to make it more economical for such companies to build in a backdoor than to fight lawsuit after lawsuit, all based on this precedent;
- In short, the long con here is that this is again a play to get the beloved backdoors in place, this time not by mandating them directly but by a campaign of aggressive legal harassment. The FBI doesn't care about the costs - after all, it's only the tax payer's money and it gives their flood of lawyers finally something to do.
- The "terrorist" red flag: FBI as well as DoJ are casually admitting here that the multi-billion dollar budgets of NSA and other agencies combined were insufficient to gather enough intelligence to not need the data held on one single consumer device which curiously was left intact while all other devices involved were wiped. I would certainly recommend that this should yield an in-depth investigation by Congress into why these agencies were unable to do without - what the hell have they been doing? Let's not forget that they missed these people despite all the data gathering and privileges they already have.
- If FBI and DoJ win this, the implications are that it will no longer be possible to protect ANY information held on US provided equipment and services. You might as well buy a Chinese knock off because at least they don't pretend to care about your rights. I am certain that Huawei et al are praying on their knees that the FBI and DoJ win this because it will make it far easier to sell into the European market, a market that will at that point no longer have a choice if they want to comply with EU Data Protection laws. A win for the DoJ and FBI is basically the last straw for Silicon Valley which is already reeling from the EU cancelling Safe Harbor.
- FBI, DoJ and court appear not to be above misleading the American public. Especially the Court and DoJ know full well that they WILL set precedent and that WILL get abused (because there's precedent for that too), so any talk about this affair being "once, "a one off", "an exception", "a special case" and "limited" is wilful misdirection. Well, let's call a spade a spade: they're lying, and they know it.
In my humble opinion, the latter merits an investigation of its own. If we can't trust a court, what's the point of it?
Seriously, a programmer is an employee of the company and hence simply does whatever (within reason) their employer asks. And how many real programmers with one eye in their CV and future, would throw up the chance of doing something different and potentially quite interesting...
...with a distinct chance of becoming persona non grata everywhere else afterwards? Some people are savvy enough to look longer term and realize getting yourself dirty (even IF the pay's good) can have consequences.
@AC - ".with a distinct chance of becoming persona non grata everywhere else... " From the comments around the web, you would of thought working at MS gave people a distinct chance of becoming persona non grata's, but it hasn't stopped them and there does seem to be arather large number of companies willing to employ such people.
Remember in this instance we are talking about an Apple (US) employee, being offered the chance of working on something that will have the attention of Tim Cook etc. - I suspect turning it down is going to be a much bigger career limiting move...
There is precedent for these All Writs Act authorities in the (British) Common Law - the Writ of Assistance. Some say this goes as far back as Roman Law.
The use of that writ by the judges appointed by King George III was one British practice that the American Revolution was specifically intended to terminate.
Guess the jokes on the American citizens.
Apple made an explicit decision to design the latest iPhones so they were perfectly uncrackable by anyone, especially themselves!! By doing so they could distinguish themselves in the marketplace, AND - key point - simply wave-off all those pesky law enforcement investigators. Apple presumably believed that they've already accomplished this goal. Annoyingly, the pesky investigator figured out a work-around, and are now back banging on Apple's door demanding assistance.
Cook must have been simply furious at the internal folks that had failed to spot the work-around. His anger may be fueled by disappointment at his naive assumption about security vice crackers. Yet another example...
(Pure speculation of course.)
What Apple has done is create a phone that is _safe_.
Since phones can easily get into hands of criminals, for a phone to be safe means it must be _very_ safe. Apple says, quite rightfully "if we could crack the passcode, then criminals could find out how to do it. Therefore for a phone to be safe, the manufacturer should be unable to crack it".
If it is possible for Apple to break in (and that's a big "if"), then it requires creating firmware that _works_ but removes some of the security (creating firmware that "works" would be very, very difficult for anyone, removing the security would be quite easy). Then it would require signing the firmware with Apple's signing key, which is the most secret secret that Apple is keeping anywhere, and that should be impossible for anyone. So _if_ Apple could break in, the fact that they could break in doesn't make your phone unsafe. But if Apple _did_ break in, that means Apple _has_ created and signed that firmware, so it _exists_, and _that_ makes your phone unsafe.
It's probable the bean-counters that are to blame there. The 5S does have a defence against this workaround (the protection against repeated attacks is inside the secure module, not in iOS). The 5C doesn't. I'm not an apple buyer so I don't quite recall the timeline but weren't these phones released simultaneously - the 5S cost more and included the latest security. The 5C was cheaper and used the older method, presumably for cost or marketing reasons rather than engineering.
Apple made an explicit decision to design the latest iPhones so they were perfectly uncrackable by anyone, especially themselves!! By doing so they could distinguish themselves in the marketplace, AND - key point - simply wave-off all those pesky law enforcement investigators
If you smell a back story at Apple I suggest you may want to wash your moustache more often :)
We have a couple of billion people on this planet who have a right to privacy, and a handful terrorists who have not. The bottom line of this whole saga is that the FBI thinks it's quite OK to jeopardise the security of the billions to get at a few - which, it is worth remembering, happens to be the whole point of terrorism.
Who runs the show at the FBI these days? Osama Bin Idiot?
Alice and Bob have been arrested. However neither will talk. The plod are getting increasingly frustrated, when they hit upon a cunning plan. They will get Alice's lawyer to sign a fake affidavit saying that Alice will co-operate. They will then show this fake to Bob's lawyer. He will recognise the genuine signature and pass the information on to his client who the police hope will in turn sing like a canary.
Obviously this won't happen, there are rule to prevent such abuse, and in any case no one would ever trust Alice's lawyer again.
This is the crux of the issue for Apple, they are being asked to add their official signature to a piece of malware, if they do this once then they can be required to do it time and time again and not always in public.
For Apple, this is fight they cannot lose.
Something that has not really been mentioned. The ferals seem to think this might take a few days to code, test, and deploy. But OSes are complex bits of code and a major change, which this is, could require several months of work before it is ready - maybe even a year or more. In intelligence there is a well known observation that the value of any information degrades with time. If the modifications take awhile, say 10 months the information will be a year old and quite possibly rather worthless.
Also, the password was changed by San Bernardino County who is the actual owner of the phone. Maybe the ferals should be leaning hard on them with the promise of all expense paid visit to Club Fed complete with an orange jump suit.
I beg to disagree with the first part of your comment. Apple only needs to modify a small part of their OS, the one that decides the span of time between failed password retries.
On the other hand, the second paragraph mirrors my thoughts exactly. It would be great to know if the password was changed by a -probably clueless- sysadmin in SB County or by an automated system owned and controlled by the country, or by a third party MSM provider. One way or another, the password must be known by someone easily identifiable and very easy to find.
The present brouhaha also begs several questions: Why did the FBI allow the phone to be connected to a mobile network while in their custody? Knowing the risk that someone, for some reason, could send a reset code or even a remote device wipe? Or were the feds themselves who wiped it, ?
This case looks like bullshit and smells like bullshit, so it's probably not a muffin. The feds covering their asses against accusations of incompetence? The feds pushing a hidden agenda? The feds trying to set a legal precedence?...
Anyway this may keep us entertained for weeks yet. Popcorn galore!
I beg to disagree with the first part of your comment. Apple only needs to modify a small part of their OS, the one that decides the span of time between failed password retries.
Lets go through the changes being asked for:
1. [Apple] will bypass or disable the auto-erase function whether or not it has been enabled;
This is a straight-forward change, to make the function do nothing.
2. [Apple] will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available on the SUBJECT DEVICE;
This is probably a bigger change, given that we don't know what stubs are already in iOS and active at the time of passcode entry. But it may be simply to permit keyboard input on these ports.
3. [Apple] will ensure that when the FBI submits passcodes to the SUBJECT DEVICE, software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.
There are two parts to this, firstly the changing of the delay between attempts, a straight-forward change of time variable(s). The second a wrong passcode not resulting in the failed attempts counter being incremented, also a straight-forward code change.
The password to the iCloud account was changed. This is not the password for the phone. Since the phone doesn't have the iCloud password anymore, it cannot upload a back-up.
I think even if they had the back-up to hand over, it would still need decryption, but at least there would be a copy the FBI, et al, could play with endlessly.
It's election season and the Administration, who has been accused of being soft in their effort against terrorism, needs to flex its terrorism muscles and Tim Cook and Apple have been so supportive in the past.........so it makes good Kabuki. We even have a heroine who will save them all in Act III. Or something.
"Terrorism" is new the blanket word... to invade our privacy. The iPhone has terrorist secrets, just like Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
If the Iphone truely had terrorist secrets, they'd hire a iOS hacker to access the data. Whenever the device in your possession you have full control, I dont care what encryption it has, anything can be broken. This is not about this one iPhone and its contents, its about power.
AC "Even if the key hidden away in a secure chip that can't be removed or decapped without self-destructing, thus the ONLY place the encrypted memory can be read is on the actual device?"
Congratulations! You're clearly NOT a hardware cracker! Yay!
Neither am I. But I've seen how they work. Because I have Internet, a video player and *interest*.
One video I saw was cracking a 'totally secure' SmartCard. The card processor had all sorts of physical roadblocks. It took him almost four hours to get the keys out. All friggin' morning. Crikey!
Try CCC.de Media. It's a goldmine of presentations.
It'll shake your worldview to its core.
partypop69 "Whenever the device in your possession you have full control, I don't care what encryption it has, anything can be broken."
Anyone that disagrees needs to spend some remidial education time on CCC.de Media presentations to address their missing background understanding of the real world.
What's really shocking is how quickly the hardware-in-possession crackers can crack. Days or a couple of weeks, done and dusted.
Cryptographer-hubris is dangerous. It's an attitude that needs to stamped out.
Cryptography-Keyspace fanboyism ("...10^77 years!!") is just annoying.
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