Check Your IB Account On The Go: Apple Watch
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The news this week that a magistrate ordered Apple to help the FBI hack an iPhone used by one of the S broker apple Bernardino shooter suspects has polarized the nation—and also generated some misinformation.
Those who support the government say Apple has cooperated in the past to unlock dozens of phones in other s broker apple —so why can't it help the FBI unlock this one? But this isn't about unlocking a phone; rather, it's about ordering Apple to create a new software tool to eliminate specific security protections the company built into its phone software to protect customer data. Briefly, the government wants a way to access data on gadgets, even when those devices use secure encryption to keep it private.
Apple specifically altered its software in to ensure that it would not be able to unlock customer phones and decrypt any of the s broker apple important data on them; but it turns out it overlooked a loophole in doing this that the government is now trying to exploit.
The loophole is not s broker apple Apple unlocking the phone but about making it easier for the FBI to attempt to unlock it on its own.
If the controversy over the San Bernardino phone causes Apple to take further steps to close that loophole so that it can't assist the FBI in this way in the future, it could be seen as excessive obstinance and obstruction by Capitol Hill.
And that could be the thing that causes lawmakers to finally step in with federal legislation that prevents Apple and other companies from locking the government out of devices. If the FBI is s broker apple in forcing Apple to comply with its request, it would also set a precedent for other countries to follow and ask Apple to provide their authorities with the same software tool.
In the interest of clarifying the facts and correcting some misinformation, we've pulled together a summary of the issues at hand. The phone in question is an iPhone 5c running the iOS9 version of Apple's software.
Farook created a password to lock his phone, and due to security features built into the software on his device, the FBI can't unlock the phone and access the data on it using the method it wants to use—a bruteforce password-guessing technique wherein they enter different passcodes repeatedly until they guess the right one—without running the risk that the device will lock them out permanently.
Apple's operating system uses two factors to secure and decrypt data on the phone—the password the user chooses and a unique bit S broker apple secret s broker apple that's embedded in the phone when it's s broker apple. As cryptographer Matthew Green explains in a blog postthe user's password gets "tangled" with the secret key to create a passcode key that both secures and unlocks data on the device. When the user enters the correct password, the phone performs a calculation that combines these two codes and if the result is the correct passcode, the device and data are unlocked.
To prevent someone from brute-forcing the password, the device has a user-enabled function that limits the number of guesses someone can try before the passcode key gets erased. Although the data remains on the device, it cannot be decrypted and therefore becomes s broker apple inaccessible.
The government's motion to the court. The government says it does not know for certain if Farook's device has the auto-erase feature enabled, s broker apple notes in its motion that San Bernardino County gave the device to Farook with it enabled, and the most recent backup of data from his phone to iCloud "showed the function turned on.
A reasonable person might ask why, if the phone was backing data up to iCloud, the government can't just get everything it needs from iCloud instead of breaking into the phone. The government did obtain some data backed up to iCloud from the phone, but authorities allege in their court document that he may have disabled iCloud backups at some point. They obtained data backed up to iCloud a month before the shootings, but none closer to the date of the shooting, when they say he is most likely to have s broker apple the s broker apple to coordinate the attack.
In addition to the auto-erase function, there's another protection against brute force attacks: Each time a password is entered on the s broker apple, it takes about 80 milliseconds for the system s broker apple process that password and determine if it's correct.
This helps prevent someone from quickly entering a new password to s broker apple again, because they can only s broker apple a password every 80 milliseconds. This might not seem like a lot of time, but according to Dan Guido, CEO of Trail of Bitsa company that does extensive consulting s broker apple iOS security, it can be prohibitively long depending on the length of the password. And with 80 milliseconds, you really can only crack eight or nine per second.
That's incredibly slow," he said in a call to reporters this week. With a four-digit passcode, he says, there are only about 10, different combinations a password-cracker has to try. But with a six-digit s broker apple, there are about one million different combinations a password cracker would have to try to guess the correct one—a simple six-digit passcode composed of just numbers would s broker apple a couple of days to crack, Guido says; but a more complex six-character password composed of letters and numbers could take more than five-and-a-half-yearsaccording to Apple.
The iOS9 software, which appears to be the software on the San Bernardino phone, asks you to create a six-digit password by defaultthough you can s broker apple this requirement to four digits if you want a shorter one. Later models of phones use a different chip than the iPhone 5c and have what's called a "secure enclave" that adds even more time delays to the password-guessing process. Guido describes the secure s broker apple as a "separate computer inside the iPhone that brokers access to encryption s broker apple increasing the security of s broker apple keys.
With the secure enclave, after each wrong password guess, the amount of time you have to wait before trying another password grows with each try; s broker apple the ninth failed password you have to wait an hour before you can enter a tenth password. The government mentioned this in its motion to the court, as if the San Bernardino phone has this added delay.
But the iPhone 5c does not have secure enclave on it, so the s broker apple would really only be the usual 80 milliseconds in this case. With older versions of Apple's phone operating system—that is, phones using software prior to iOS8—Apple has the ability to bypass the user's passcode to essentially unlock the device and access data on the phone.
It has done so in dozens of cases over the years, pursuant to a court order. But beginning with iOS8, Apple changed this so that it securely encrypts all of the most important data on your phone by default—photos, messages, contacts, call history—using the password you choose.
And Apple cannot bypass your password to obtain that data. According to the motion filed by the government in the San Bernardino case, the phone in question is using a later version of Apple's operating system—which appears to be iOS9. We're basing this on a statement in the motion that reads: Apple released iOS9 in Septemberthree months before the San Bernardino attacks occurred, so it's very possible this is indeed the version installed on the San Bernardino phone.
After today, technology vendors need to consider that they might be the adversary they're trying to protect their customers from. A lot of people have misconstrued the government's request and believe it asked the court to order Apple to unlock the phone, as Apple has done in many cases before. But as noted, the particular operating system installed on this phone does not allow Apple to bypass the s broker apple and decrypt the data.
So the government wants to try bruteforcing the password without having the system auto-erase the decryption key and s broker apple additional time delays. To do this, it wants Apple to create a special version of its operating system, a crippled version of the firmware that essentially eliminates the bruteforcing protections, and install it on the San Bernardino phone. It also wants Apple to make it possible to enter password guesses electronically rather than through the touchscreen so that the FBI can run a password-cracking script that races through the password guesses automatically.
It wants Apple to design this crippled software to be loaded into memory instead of on disk so that the data on the phone remains forensically sound and won't be altered. Note that even after Apple does all of this, the phone will still be locked, unless the government's bruteforcing operation works to guess the password.
And if Farook kept the iOS9 default requirement for a six-digit password, and s broker apple a complex alpha-numeric combination for his password, the FBI might never be able to crack it even with everything it has asked Apple to do.
Apple CEO Tim Cook described the government's request s broker apple "asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades s broker apple security advancements that protect our customers—including tens of millions of S broker apple citizens—from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.
The loophole s broker apple the fact that Apple still retains the ability to run crippled firmware on a device like this without requiring the user to approve it, the way software updates usually work.
If this required user approval, S broker apple would not be able to do what s broker apple government is requesting. They have to make it so that the operating system boots inside of a RAM disk…[and] they need to delete a bunch of code—there's a lot of s broker apple that protects the passcode that they just need to trash," he said.
Making it possible for the government to test passwords with a script instead of typing them in would take a little more effort he says. Apple can load a new kernel driver that allows you to plug something in over the [Lightning] port… It wouldn't s broker apple trivial but it wouldn't be massive. There has been some debate online about whether Apple would be able to do this for later phones that have newer chips and the secure enclave.
It's an important question because these are the phones that most users will have in the next one or two years as they replace their old phones. Though the secure enclave has additional security features, Guido says that Apple could indeed also write crippled firmware for the secure enclave that achieves exactly what the FBI is asking for in the San Bernardino case.
They can't read the secure private keys out of it, but they can eliminate things like the passcode delay," he said. If Apple eliminates the added time delays that the secure enclave introduces, then such phones would only have the standard millisecond delay that older phones have. You have to develop more software; you have to test it a lot better," he said. And once both of those are gone, you can query for passcodes as fast as 80 milliseconds per request.
You can create a strong alpha-numeric password for your device that would make bruteforcing it essentially infeasible for the FBI or anyone else. Guido says Apple could and should make changes to its system so that what the FBI is asking it to do can't be done in future models. These would prevent Apple in the future from having the ability to either upload crippled firmware to the device without the phone owner's approval or from uploading new firmware to the secure enclave s broker apple all.
And if you have a complex enough password then you're safe. What does it look like if we attack our own customers?
What does it look like if we strip out and remove the security mitigations we put in specifically to protect customers? And s broker apple quite a big shift. To clarify the number of failed password guesses that can occur before the phone deletes the passcode key, making data on the phone inaccessible.
To s broker apple the security changes Apple made in that prevent it from unlocking secured data on phones. S broker apple Stories Powered By Outbrain. S broker apple Gallagher Army of The Making of a Cyber Battalion. Louise Matsakis Louise Matsakis. Josephine Wolff Josephine Wolff.
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