back to article US government seizes Texas gun mass murder to demand backdoors

While US President Donald Trump thinks it's too early to discuss gun control in the wake of Sunday's Texas church massacre – America's latest mass shooting – his Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is just fine exploiting the murder-suicide of 26 people to push for backdoors. Specifically, a backdoor so investigators can …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh dear

    When are they going to accept that they need to get rid of the guns? Having access to phones and the like isn't going to stop things like this.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh dear

      "No reasonable person questions our right, and obligation, to access the phone," Rosenstein said today.

      With an attitude of 'If you disagree with us then you're an unreasonable person', they're not going to listen to or accept any point of view but their own.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Oh dear

        Thanks to the FBI bloke for confirming what I've always known - yes I'm an unreasonable person when facing scumbags like you, yes I _did_ write silly notes to my cousin in a made-up alphabet when I was a kid and yes I'd very much like to see you try cracking something like that if I'd have a go at it _properly_ today or try outlawing the right to write down unintelligible symbols/words.

      2. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

        Re: Oh dear

        "No reasonable person questions our right, and obligation, to access the phone," Rosenstein said today.

        How about insisting on a back door on guns?

        "No reasonable person questions our right, and obligation, to access the gun and stop you shooting at innocent crowds of people"

        Does that read better?

        Access to nutters phones won't help keep people alive.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Oh dear

          "How about insisting on a back door on guns?"

          Or just finding out why this person, who was on record as being unable to legally get a firearms license, was able to pass the basic background check and buy a gun in the first place. This isn't about changing gun control or access to encrypted devices. It's about why the existing system failed in the first place.

      3. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: Oh dear

        As a reasonable person I don't question their right to access the phone if they convince a judge to give them a warrant, but I very much question their obligation. It is very, very unlikely that there is anything stored on that phone that would help solve a crime or prevent another crime. His guns and ammunition for example were all purchased perfectly legally at gun stores (except the US government neglected to put him on a list of people not allowed to buy guns and ammunition).

  2. corestore

    "But the company that built it purposely designed the operating system so that we cannot access it."

    No you gibbon, it's not personal; they purposely designed the operating system so that NO-ONE can access it.

    1. Oengus Silver badge

      No you gibbon, it's not personal; they purposely designed the operating system so that NO-ONE can access it.

      Not quite. I was thinking something very similar...

      No you gibbon, it's not personal; they purposely designed the operating system so that only authorised people can access it. FTFY

      1. DougS Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        If no one could access it I imagine they'd have a lot harder time selling them!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        What follows is for stimulating discussion, etc. Feel free to pick holes, and so forth.

        It's worth exploring what "Authorised People" means also. The common understanding is that includes

        the handset owner, and no one else.

        However, the only thing making that so is the OS design and implementation. Anyone who can change the design and implementation (i.e. make changes to the OS and issue a signed update that the handset will accept and install) can make it so that they're also authorised (i.e. create a back door). This is kinda what the FBI wanted in the San Bernadino case.

        So, who can do that?

        1) Apple.

        2) Er, no one else, unless it all gets pinched?

        The point is that so long as Apple have signing keys, source code, a build system and firmware release channels a back door exists in potentia. That is, we trust Apple to not do those things.

        Comparing Levels of Trust

        When you think about it, that's not really any different to trusting Apple with the keys to a pre-existing back door. The same level of trust is required. For example:

        * No back door, but if Apple's private signing keys and source code leaks your iPhones is potentially wide open, and so is everyone else's.

        * Back door: and if Apple leaks your back door access code. your iPhone is wide open. Assuming the access code is unique to each separate phone, no one else's is affected.

        Discourage Source Code / Keys Copying

        Getting hold of Apple's source code and signing keys is a huge opportunity to whomsoever achieves that, and there's no doubt many a hacker / state actor out there burning lots of manpower aiming to achieve such a significant hack. It's such a big, juicy target. If ever achieved, Apple / iDevices have a massive problem.

        The existence of an official back door would dilute that.

        For the sake of argument, suppose that some TLA agency did successfully and unofficially acquire Apple's source code and signing keys, and was in a position to push malicious firmware upgrades out. Sure, they'd be able to confer God Mode upon themselves.

        But device Users would all now (unknowingly) need that TLA to safeguard all of that properly, and that's seemingly not guaranteed these days... And if they shared that with a trusted partner agency, that's another party that has to safeguard that properly. And so on. Every copy of the source code and signing keys is at risk, and the more copies there are the higher the risk of a complete iDevice security breakdown. Bad for the TLA, bad for Apple, but especially bad for all of us Users.

        However if the TLA knew that it could access a back door on request, they'd never go looking for the source code / signing keys in the first place; thus they cannot leak it. There's fewer copies in existence, so the risk is less. If the TLA agency lost a backdoor access code, that's bad for the TLA, bad for Apple, but for all but one User it's a complete non-event.

        So that's the premise; Apple's position is fine so long as their source and keys don't get accessed by anyone else. But they've made a mighty big hacker / intelligence agency target of themselves, and if breached it's potentially a disaster for the company and all of us Users.

        An alternative - cooperation with the TLAs on request - would change the behaviours of the TLAs in a way that ensures that they would never have (or need) access to Apple's actual source code / signing keys Crown Jewels. I don't know about you, but I think that the fewer people trying to access that lot, the better.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All encryption is bad.....

    ....unless it's our secrets being kept.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All encryption is bad.....

      Should Mr Rosenstein be making this request of the NSA?

      We all KNOW they're bugging everyone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: All encryption is bad.....

        False News Alert (new icon required)

        We all KNOW they're bugging everyone.

        Proof, and no they are not, they are intercepting traffic with a view to identifying miscreants as defined by their political masters. Once identified then they may 'bug' said miscreant.

        Do you really thing they have the resources to 'bug' every property, office, car, person?

        1. Teknogrot

          Re: All encryption is bad.....

          And the award for linguistic prescriptivism in the name of pedantry with the aim of dodging the point goes to...

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: All encryption is bad.....

          I refer the Honourable Pedant to ECHELON.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

      2. gnasher729 Silver badge

        Re: All encryption is bad.....

        The NSA may or may not be able to read the contents of that phone. But, just as in the Bernardino case, it is obvious to anyone willing to use his braincells that there is nothing of interest on that phone. That's also obvious to the NSA. There is no way they would admit that they could read that phone when they know it doesn't serve any purpose.

        IF they can read the contents of that phone model (and nobody knows if they can), then they will keep that information secret. Either decrypt phones and never, ever admit they could do it, or read it and publicly admit they did, if it is a really important case.

  4. bombastic bob Silver badge
    Childcatcher

    leave no tragedy unexploited

    what it says in the title. manipulative ASSHATS do that.

    1. Schultz
      Go

      "Preventing agents from accessing devices in criminal investigations should not be allowed"

      How very sensible. How about you contact the criminal and try to explain that. Ooh, so there is a rule that you cannot force the criminal to implicate himself? That's very inconvenient, I wonder why that was written into the law. And in this case the defendant is dead? Well, I'd say that case is closed and you should focus on the next one. And remember, no cheating allowed ;).

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: "Preventing agents from accessing devices in criminal investigations should not be allowed"

        Except in the UK were the police can send you to jail for five years for not handing over your password. Then when you get out, they can ask you again.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Unfortunately

      the backdoors to the seat of these peoples' cerebella is up their backsides.

    3. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: leave no tragedy unexploited

      Wait until the Fake news starts circulating that these mass shootings are being staged by the government to persuade congress to enforce backdoors in iPhones.

      I hesitate to even suggest this, but it's the USA - no idiotic story is too stupid for Facebook in America.

  5. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Pattern of incompitance

    Not only spelling, grammar too these days. Just sayin'...

  6. Oengus Silver badge

    that if a backdoor were mandated the Russians and Chinese would make it a priority to find and exploit it.

    That would be illegal... They would change their laws to require that the companies supply them with the same access they had provided to the US government or have that phone banned in their countries. So much easier than trying to find the backdoor...

  7. cirby

    "But..."

    "...we need to get into the phone so we can catch him. The dead guy."

  8. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    Gun Control you say?

    Gun Control failed because this Democrat should never have been able to obtain one (Devin Patrick Kelley got his gun illegally.)

    But then; Texas church massacre: Man hailed a hero for chasing gunman after killings

    "The shooter got in his truck, the gentlemen with the rifle came to my truck as the shooter took off, and he briefed me quickly on what had just happened and said we had to get him, so that's what I did," he said.

    That's the spirit. And maybe we can concentrate on something else now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gun Control you say?

      Who's talking about gun control? Just get rid of them all from the civilian population.

      I really don't get how it can be acceptable for more people to be killed by citizens each year than by terror attacks.

      And no, I'm not a pacifist - I've served with the military and am quite happy handling weapons, but the general population does not need them.

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: Gun Control you say?

        "Who's talking about gun control? Just get rid of them all from the civilian population."
        Most analysts admit it's difficult to know exact numbers of fatal shootings because of poor reporting by the police. That said, the data suggests that more innocent people are killed by police than civilians. Usually, the civilian is shooting at someone they know has committed a crime; they are the victim of it. The police shoot people they believe to be criminal. As in the case of Justine Diamond. Her crime? Calling the police to report an assault.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gun Control you say?

        Did they not teach civics in school anymore?

        - You can't just make a law to ban guns because of the 2nd Amendment. Any laws that attempt to skirt around that will quickly get ruled unconditional.

        - The chances of the 2nd being repealed is pretty much nil.

        - Even if it somehow did get repealed, how do you propose unarming everybody when there are millions of guns out there?

        - How do you keep somebody from making their own gun and/or ammunition. It's not exactly hard. Either that or just smuggle them back into the country from Mexico.

        If you take all of the guns away, they'll just resort to another method. Would you rather have another McVeigh or Kaczynski?

        1. Pompous Git Silver badge

          Re: Gun Control you say?

          "If you take all of the guns away, they'll just resort to another method. "
          After the Port Arthur Massacre set a new world record for the number of dead, draconian new gun laws were enacted in Australia and a huge number of guns destroyed. An acquaintance in the field of gerbillism decided to see how hard it was to acquire a gun under the new regime. He received his illegal handgun at a café within sight of the Russell Street headquarters of the Victorian Police in Melbourne within half an hour after making his request.

          Note that handgun ownership in Australia has always been severely restricted and so they have always been exceptionally difficult to obtain. For some arbitrary meaning of "difficult"...

          1. HarleyBird

            Re: Gun Control you say?

            "After the Port Arthur Massacre ... ..received his illegal handgun at a café within sight of the Russell Street headquarters of the Victorian Police in Melbourne"

            You mean the building on Russell Street that was the former police HQ -- having been vacated in 1995, the year before the 1996 Port Arthur shootings?

            Something doesn't sound right with your anectdote there.

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              Some people will always see guns as the problem, just as some people will always see privacy as a problem. In both cases the legal use of gun and security is about protecting themselves from external threats and of course an external threat is someone who wants to take away such security.

              Those who use both cases illegally will use whatever means necessary to achieve their aims (terrorism or just gangs or most illegal activity). And the protection of the population is expected by the population either by the right of defending themselves or being protected. In the UK we seem not to feel either way as the gov seeks to remove our right to security but become less effective against criminals. So I can understand people in the US not believing their best interests are being taken into account when attacked over security which includes gun ownership in their case.

            2. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              "You mean the building on Russell Street that was the former police HQ -- having been vacated in 1995, the year before the 1996 Port Arthur shootings?

              Something doesn't sound right with your anectdote there."

              I haven't lived in Melbourne since 1970 and truly had no idea the police headquarters had moved. My bad. I used to work nearby in late 1970.

            3. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              @ HarleyBird

              My gerbillist friend says you are being somewhat disingenuous. Russell Street was indeed vacated in 1995, but it didn't cease to be "Russell Street", or "Russell Street Headquarters" when context was insufficient, until 2004 when the buildings were finally repurposed and renamed.

              The café my friend received the weapon in apparently remained a favourite location for business dealings between criminals and police for some time after the move.

              I freely admit to jumping to an unwarranted conclusion, that the gun was supplied by a policeman or other employee of the force. But it wasn't a very big jump. After all, Martin Bryant's main weapon was purchased by the Victorian Police in a gun buyback some years before Bryant acquired it according to my gerbillist friend. And not forgetting the illicit drugs, weapons and money found in the ceiling of the St Kilda nick many years ago.

          2. strum Silver badge

            Re: Gun Control you say?

            >After the Port Arthur Massacre set a new world record for the number of dead, draconian new gun laws were enacted in Australia and a huge number of guns destroyed.

            ...and the incidence of gun crime plummeted (despite some mythical black market deal).

            Gun control works. That's why the NRA are against it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              Gun control works?

              1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

                Sovereignman.com

                Now that'll be a level-headed, balanced site utterly devoid of any agenda.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Sovereignman.com

                  Perhaps you'd prefer the BBC's timeline. History kinda speaks for itself really.

            2. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              "...and the incidence of gun crime plummeted (despite some mythical black market deal)."
              Plummet: To cause to drop rapidly, to hurl down.

              Bullshit!

              Australia -

              Homicides 1990–2010

              1. Rob V.

                Re: Gun Control you say?

                “The number of homicide incidents involving a firearm decreased by 57 percent between 1989-90 and 2013-14,” the government crime trends report says. “Firearms were used in 13 percent of homicide incidents (n=32) in 2013-14. In 1989-90 it was 24 percent (n=75) of incidents.”

                http://www.factcheck.org/2017/10/gun-control-australia-updated/

                1. Pompous Git Silver badge
          3. gnasher729 Silver badge

            Re: Gun Control you say?

            I remember a report of a journalist trying that in London. He managed to get nine guns. However, at that point the price of a gun had doubled, that's how tight the market was.

            1. Pompous Git Silver badge

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              "However, at that point the price of a gun had doubled, that's how tight the market was."
              When the Port Arthur Massacre occurred, the local butcher was selling a whole sheep, butchered, for $AU15–20. I purchased one last week for $AU260. While it's not the only factor, the very great increase in vermin eating the farmers' grass plays a big role in this. Of course such price increase only affects the poor and nobody really gives a fuck about them.

        2. Lysenko

          Re: Gun Control you say?

          You can't just make a law to ban guns because of the 2nd Amendment.

          Yes you can. You can legislate the definition of "militia" to clarify it means members of the National Guard while officially deployed. You can also expand the established precedents legitimising restrictions on the right to "bear arms" (e.g. concealed carry bans and gun free zones etc.) to clarify that the entire country is a "gun free zone" in respect of public places so anyone transporting a firearm off private property must do so dismantled, unloaded and inside a locked weapons transport container. Anyone found in possession of a functional firearm in public: 25 years to life.

          After that, it's a question for the courts who have never explicitly ruled on the meaning of the militia clause, nor set absolute parameters on the limits of other restrictions.

          Even if it somehow did get repealed, how do you propose unarming everybody when there are millions of guns out there?

          The same way the millions of firearms Europe was awash with after both world wars were dealt with. Pulling millions of firearms (not to mention explosives) out of civilian circulation has been a solved problem for 100 years.

          Would you rather have another McVeigh or Kaczynski?

          Yes. The body counts people like that achieve are a rounding error compared to the overall firearms murder rate. McVeigh killed 168 people. Chicago (one city!) clocks up that many firearms murders every three months or so.

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            Re: Gun Control you say?

            I think there's just a quirk in the USA mentality that fetishises guns and am resigned to living with the mild insanity of my neighbours(I'm a Brit resident in the USA). This country will never get rid of its guns. There's a kink in the USA psyche that makes them prone to shooting each other. Canada has a lot of guns too, but a fraction of the shooting deaths. And whats the European country with a high gun ownership - Sweden? Switzerland? Lots of guns. Not much shooting each other. I think Americans just hate each other and every so often one of them indulges their angst by going on a rampage. C'est la vie. I love you all anyway; Weird as you are. I think a bit of socialism is what you need. Love for your fellow critter.

            1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              "And whats the European country with a high gun ownership - Sweden? Switzerland? Lots of guns. Not much shooting each other. I think Americans just hate each other and every so often one of them indulges their angst by going on a rampage"

              I ran across a (possibly unreliable) statistic some years back that *relative to the gun-toting population size*, the US is actually fairly typical of countries in general for rates of gun-sourced killing. Norway, on the other hand, has a disproportionately high level. (Turf wars between the Hell's Angels and the Banditos contribute to this. That shocked my late wife, because both these outfits are endemic in parts of California where she grew up, but they are not obviously part of Norwegian culture.)

              A lot of people are killed by people using guns in the US not because USians are trigger-happy maniacs, but because a lot of people have guns.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              "Guns don't kill people - Americans kill people"

          2. s2bu

            Re: Gun Control you say?

            > After that, it's a question for the courts who have never explicitly ruled on the meaning of the militia clause, nor set absolute parameters on the limits of other restrictions.

            Yes, they have. The Heller case. If you're REALLY hung up on that clause (even though Heller and the actual notes in the Federalist papers blow that out of the water), 10 U.S. Code § 246(b)(2) states:

            (2) the unorganized militia, which consists of the members of the militia who are not members of the National Guard or the Naval Militia.

            So how do you tell who is in the unorganized militia or not?

            > Yes. The body counts people like that achieve are a rounding error compared to the overall firearms murder rate. McVeigh killed 168 people. Chicago (one city!) clocks up that many firearms murders every three months or so.

            We're talking about mass killings here, not gang violence. None of the gang bangers buy their guns legally anyways. The Chicago PD even published stats to prove it.

          3. Timmy B Silver badge

            Re: Gun Control you say?

            @Lysenco

            "Yes you can. You can legislate the definition of "militia" to clarify it means members of the National Guard while officially deployed. "

            But the supreme court has already ruled on this deciding that the second amendment is irrespective of the militia part. http://constitution.findlaw.com/amendment2.html

            1. Lysenko

              Re: Gun Control you say?

              @Timmy B

              The Supreme Court ruled on Dred Scott as well - and then it reversed itself. More broadly, the country ratified the 18th Amendment - and then it reversed itself. The Constitution isn't an immutable work of divine dictatorship, it has been amended and re-interpreted dozens of times but it requires legislative action to bring a matter back to the table.

              However, even if we concede that point, it doesn't prevent other steps being taken. For example, the Gun-Free School Zones Act 1990 (that's a Republican Presidency, incidentally) has never been ruled unconstitutional so the question is merely how big a "school zone" is. There is nothing to stop Title 18 USC s921(a)(25) being amended from it's current definition (1000ft) to something more like 10km (approximate maximum range a rifle could cause ballistic damage). Other options? Well, just like cigarettes, you could use taxation. Civilian purchase of 9mm parabellum: $100 per round, possession of untaxed contraband, felony.

              Nothing is unconstitutional until SCOTUS says it is and that can't happen until after you legislate.

          4. Todd_sw

            Re: Gun Control you say?

            Startling lack of understanding of history and the origins and purpose of the 2nd amendment. This amendment was purposely not about standing armies, it was about codifying citizens natural rights organize to protect the free state and by extension, themselves. After all, how can you defend someone else, if you can’t defend yourself? Further, the militia in the 2A is a group of private citizens, not a national guard or other state sponsored entity. Militias of the day were self funded, provided their own arms and ammo. Well regulated, for,you public school types and liberals, meant well trained, back in those days. Do you not understand how the USA was founded by people who had just overthrown a standing Army that tried to disarm them, among other things. There is no way that the founding documents would have been talking about making yet another standing army that might decide to impose its will on the citizens.

        3. nijam

          Re: Gun Control you say?

          > You can't just make a law to ban guns because of the 2nd Amendment

          Yes you can, because a lone psycho killing people in the local church does not constitute a "properly regulated militia".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gun Control you say?

      @destroy all monsters

      The problem is (as shown by your post), many Americans still have the wild-wild-west cowboy mentality... yeeee haaaa!

    3. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: Gun Control you say?

      RE: "Devin Patrick Kelley got his gun illegally"

      It's irrelevant whether it was legally or illegally obtained. The problem in this country is how easy it is to obtain a gun. I've seen a fucking sniper rifle offered at my local flea market, a barrel as big as a bloody cannon! Hand guns are as easy to find as an ice cream cone. Shot guns? How many do you need sir? Doesn't matter if I'm legally allowed one or not; Lots of people are perfectly happy to sell me as many as I crave.

      It's a good job I'm level headed and calm...MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    4. Schultz
      WTF?

      Gun Control failed ...

      in the country that doesn't contemplate gun control. Gun control works elsewhere. Pick a peculiar definition of 'works' and you may be able to contradict me. But you'd have to try hard, because there are almost 200 countries out there and most have some kind of gun control and a correspondingly low occurrence of gun-related violence.

      ‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: Gun Control failed ...

        Interestingly, while the number of guns in the US continues to grow, the number of households where a gun is present is declining. That rather implies that the gun nuts are acquiring increasing arsenals, something rather borne out by the pattern of mass shootings.

        Whatever changes you made to the law, quite how you would now manage to wrest 300 million guns from the hands of swivel-eyed loons who have ludicrously tooled up precisely for the day the gummint comes for their weapons is beyond me.

  9. Mark 85 Silver badge

    So the FBI has 7000 or so phones that they want unencrypted. Have the owners been charged? Jailed until they give the FBI the passwords? Or is this a fishing expedition? The FBI would rather get their way to decrypt those 7000 phones and put millions of users at risk. Why? This is just appalling. There's more to this then they're telling us or anyone else it would seem.

    1. DeKrow

      No room for 7,000 more

      Aren't their jails already full? Lucky they can't get into the 7,000 phones, because they'd surely find SOMETHING to put those 7,000 phone owners into government-sponsored corporate slavery jail for.

  10. DeKrow

    Shoot the phone?

    All US problems can be solved with guns, fists, or cars.

    Any problems created by unpatriotic miscreants that can't be solved with the above shall result in legislative changes such that those kinds of problems no longer exist.

    Anything more complicated can't be allowed because movie and TV audiences won't like it. I mean, the denoument of the first season of Heroes (yeah, the show with cool super-power kids) was a fist-fight between two multi-powered mutants. A fist fight?

    And we wonder why they struggle with the concept of encryption.

  11. DougS Silver badge

    Sorry we were incompetent and didn't try to unlock it in the first 48 hours

    Please bail us out of our incompetence now.

    Wish knew more about it - like was it using Touch ID? Is it configured with a passcode (which is 10,000 or 1,000,000 possibilities depending on if 4 or 6 digits) or a password (which billions of possibilities, though maybe they hope he didn't take security seriously and used English words or names) Did he use iCloud or iTunes for backups?

    Last time they wanted Apple's help making a custom OS version that didn't restrict the rate of passcode guesses. That's handled in the secure enclave with newer phones that support Touch ID, so it may not even be possible for them to change. Even if they could (which they won't) if he used a 6 digit passcode or used a password, it still could take a very long time to try all the combinations, or forever, if he used something crazy complex for his password.

    Apparently guns don't kill people, but companies that make encryption the FBI can't break do...

  12. SteveO1683

    48 Hours

    "The fact the Feds only started complaining about not being able to access the phone two days after the mass shooting indicates that either the phone didn't use fingerprint locking or agents missed their chance."

    Not 100% sure that law enforcement can just pickup a dead guys finger and use it to unlock a device. I believe they would still have to get a warrant which could have taken over the 48 hour finger window.

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: 48 Hours

      AFAIA fingerprints don't need a warrant. PINs and passwords do, fingerprints, no. Well, not right now: it's being disputed in the courts.

      C.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you can't get rid of the guns ...

    Get rid or restrict the sales of ammunition. There's nothing in the constitution that says you can't do that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If you can't get rid of the guns ...

      A lot of people already handload/reload. So it's perfectly easy to make your own ammo and not buy it.

      Besides, banning things worked so well in the past, such as:

      - Alcohol during Prohibition

      - Marijuana, Cocaine, etc during the War on Drugs

      - etc...

      This will SURELY have a better outcome, right?

      1. Pompous Git Silver badge

        Re: If you can't get rid of the guns ...

        "A lot of people already handload/reload. So it's perfectly easy to make your own ammo and not buy it."
        Indeed. And if you are careful, you get better quality ammo while spending less money. Last box of .22 I had, two rounds failed to work!

        1. ITS Retired
          Joke

          Re: If you can't get rid of the guns ...

          "Last box of .22 I had, two rounds failed to work!"

          Maybe they were reloads.

  14. Aynon Yuser

    Easy to crack (for any governments engineers)

    Remove all memory modules and security linked chips, image all contents into a fake clone machine that emulates the desired cell phone, custom design software that can soft reset the reset security safeties back to zero after so many failed tries, connect to a computer that will hammer all possible key code combinations. Repeat this over and over. The original phone memory and hardware will be left intact. The faster the computers the better.

    This should work with all cell phone OS's. Now get to work.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Easy to crack (for any governments engineers)

      Time to brute force each handset - 1E20 years, assuming you can commandeer the entire computing resources of the planet to run the calculations.

      OK, so I've pulled the figure out of the air, but that's what is meant by *strong* encryption nowadays, and is why brute forcing keys is not an option.

      1. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

        Re: Easy to crack (for any governments engineers)

        Most people will probably just use the numbers option without setting it up to be alpha-numeric.

        In which case most pin codes would be cracked in seconds by a decent system.

      2. patrickstar

        Re: Easy to crack (for any governments engineers)

        No. Provided that he just used a PIN and not a proper passphrase, all you have to do is at most bruteforce the PIN. Depending on the particular attack there might be a limit to how fast you can actually try PINs but a 4-digit PIN would still be crackable within a reasonable time period. Like, lets say it takes you 10 seconds to try each PIN. Then it'd still just be a bit more than 24h. A lot of people, me included, have even cracked 4 digit PINs (or scanned the similar amount of phone numbers in the phreaking days, etc) by hand in various contexts.

        The whole purpose of this 'secure enclave' thing (atleast in this context) is that it holds the actual encryption key but won't give it up without the proper PIN, and also enforcing limits/delays on PIN attempts. This lets you achieve a decent security level (far more crackable than 'proper strong' encryption, but still needs time/decent budget) without having to enter anything more than a PIN to use the phone.

        As to the previous poster, what you describe is probably a NAND mirroring attack. This indeed worked against older iPhones but doesn't work against the newer ones. Search the Fine Web for details.

        I don't do iPhone stuff, but I think that now you either need some software/firmware/hardware bug, or have a long nice chat with the surly uncooperative chip using pretty darn expensive chip reversing gear (SEM, FIB, yadda yadda).

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Easy to crack (for any governments engineers)

      There are three problems with this. One is that part of the key needed to decrypt the contents of the phone is inside the phones CPU and cannot be extracted from it. So you can't just clone the phone. (The second part is stored on the flash drive, which allows it to be erased in a millisecond if needed, and the third part is the passcode). Two is that counting the decryption attempts is done in the secure enclave, which cannot be copied or manipulated. Three is that if you get past all security measures, you still need the passcode, checking one passcode takes 80 milliseconds, and there is no limit to the length of the passcode. A 10 digit passcode cannot be cracked in your lifetime.

  15. K Silver badge
    Big Brother

    "but that's not going to stop Rosenstein and the FBI "

    I've come to the conclusion that this cry for backdoors is simply being used to drum up hysteria and cause a distraction.. it's effectively the fall-guy for governmental incompetence.

  16. Ole Juul Silver badge

    reasonable

    "No reasonable person questions our right, and obligation, to access the phone," Rosenstein said today.

    Him and I obviously have very different ideas of what "reasonable" means.

  17. veti Silver badge

    Uh-huh

    "it's going to cost a great deal of time and money, and in some cases it costs us lives."

    [Citation needed]. Name these "some cases". Who, specifically, has died because the FBI couldn't decrypt someone's phone?

  18. Paul 129

    Seriously

    Guy shoots people. Result is we need to break into everyones phones!?!

    Seriously?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Crypto is a munition

    In the US anyway. I've heard it's so that export of it can be controlled.

    And the second amendment says I have the right to bear arms. And the NRA has convinced the Nazis (a.k.a. the Republicans) in our government that that means we can even have military-grade weapons like AK-47s, Uzis, and AR-15s with bump stocks. And concealed carry for handguns.

    Seems like a no-brainer then, QED: I can have strong encryption on my phone and there's nothing the NSA, the Justice Department , or anyone else can do about it.

    Or we could start using some common sense about some reasonable gun control laws. Because encrypted phones don't kill people – people, specifically people with guns, kill people.

    Nazis: knock yourselves out down voting this post.

    1. s2bu

      Re: Crypto is a munition

      There's nothing military-grade about the AK-47s, AR-15, and Uzis that normal people can buy. The military doesn't even use AR-15s, they use M16A1s.

      And what exactly does concealed carry have anything to do with terrorism? The stats gathered by the government in states like Texas and Floria show that licensed carriers are not only 21x less likely to commit a crime than somebody in the general public, but almost 6x less likely to commit a crime than a *police officer*. You know, those people that most people are ok with having a gun?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Crypto is a munition

        licensed carriers are not only 21x less likely to commit a crime than somebody in the general public, but almost 6x less likely to commit a crime than a *police officer*.

        Unless you are god, you mean "less likely to be caught for committing a crime". I'm also dubious of the meaning of those statistics, given that in the US arresting and imprisoning poor people is an industry. I would imagine the demographics of the licensed carriers do not include many poor people.

        So is this "people who are licensed to carry guns don't get caught committing crimes" or "affluent people don't get caught committing crimes"?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If more guns equals more safety *

    Then why not more encryption equals more privacy?

    Why the double standard?

    * Say some dingbats

    1. Tom 38 Silver badge

      Re: If more guns equals more safety *

      FBI agree; they have approved double ROT-13 as the new security standard.

  21. I'm Dugly

    iThoughts and iPrayers

    iApple could offer as much as the pols do.

  22. Cuddles Silver badge

    Slight correction needed

    "Specifically, a backdoor so investigators anyone can forcibly and easily unlock devices, decrypting and presenting the information they contain on demand"

    There's no such thing as a backdoor that can only be used by the "good" guys. A door is a door*, and can be used by anyone. Hiding it around the back doesn't make it harder to use, just harder to find, and as long as everyone knows it's there (if it's mandated by law, for example) that doesn't actually make any difference.

    *OK, sometimes it's a jar.

  23. DagD

    Let me make this very clear

    Gun Control:

    Aim, breath control, trigger squeeze control. Verify your target and what's behind it before pulling the trigger.

    All the "gun control" you need.

    You can't regulate Stupid, but you can put a lead injection in it's head.

  24. Pompous Git Silver badge

    Gun-control nuts

    One point missing in this discussion: the assumption that introducing gun-control laws will reduce the number of firearms in the hands of criminals. Criminals, by definition, ignore laws. Make it harder for them to obtain firearms legally, they will steal them. That's what has happened here in Australia.

    Farms are rather large, so making lots of noise using an angle-grinder to remove guns from gun safes is not a problem when the farmer is away.

    The main outcome of our new gun-control laws is a very great increase in the number of vermin: rabbits, wallabies, possums, feral cats etc. Farmers used to be able to keep a loaded gun in the ute while travelling about the farm. Nowadays you have to drive back to the farmhouse to get the gun from the gunsafe, the firing pin from its safe... then drive back to where you saw the vermin...

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