This week BBC news reported that Apple would not help the FBI bypass the pin on one of their phones
The FBI have apparently asked Apple to create two assistive technologies :
“Firstly, it wants the company to alter Farook’s iPhone so that investigators can make unlimited attempts at the passcode without the risk of erasing the data.
Secondly, it wants Apple to help implement a way to rapidly try different passcode combinations, to save tapping in each one manually.”
Ignoring who is right or wrong in this matter – these are not uncommon requests – I’ve been asked by various governments and “three letter agencies” in the past to do exactly the same thing, which I too have politely declined.
Reading between the lines, the FBI requests would indicate an admission that the actual cryptography within the iPhone is robust and correctly implemented – and that there are no discovered back doors which would allow the FBI access to the data without Apple’s help.
So we can assume that the FBI cannot usually access data stored on iPhones. What help can Apple give?
For those who follow me around, I’ll be speaking at “The Security Standard” on September 13th 2010. It’s only a short spot but I’ll be introducing some new information about McAfee’s unified DLP solution, and talking briefly about data protection regulations.
Following on from a failed state-wide “hack” of the Blackberry system, where the state-controlled telco etisalat tried to distribute a “performance enhancing patch” to Blackberry users (which turned out to be a state-controlled back door program), The United Arab Emirates is threatening to block e-mail sending and IM delivery on Blackberries, and Saudi Arabia is threatening to block Blackberry-to-Blackberry IM.
According to BBC News:
Both nations are unhappy that they are unable to monitor such communications via the handsets. This is because the Blackberry handsets automatically send the encrypted data to computer servers outside the two countries.
This week, Jaikumar Vijayan at Computerworld posted an interesting article about new Chinese rules designed to control the import of non-domestic encryption products.
Many people have infered that these new rules will mean products imported into China will be somehow compromised, or unsafe, because their details will have been released to the Chinese Government.
Nothing could be further from the truth.. Read more…
This week I want to take an opportunity to remind readers of the excellent NIST publication 800-111.
Yes, I know, another complex government sponsored report, but 800-111, for those implementing any kind of data protection project, is one of the best reports on the subject, dealing with technology, practical use of, and risk analysis. It’s really (for NIST publications anyway) a very good read.
The other reason to pay attention to 800-111, is quite simply it’s the document regulations mention when talking about “Good Practice”, “Industry Standard processes”, “Accepted Best Practice” etc. This document contains the advice that you’ll be measured against if you ever end up in court defending your Security Policy against something like Massachusetts 201 CMR 17.00. Read more…