Saturday, 1 June 2013

An Apple A Day??

DEA Can Read iMessages

The US Drug Enforcement Agency seems to be messing with Apple customers by pretending that it can’t read their iMessages. It was a few days ago that CNet obtained some DEA memo suggesting that the messages sent via Apple’s own system were untappable and therefore “frustrating” law enforcement.

The “leaked” memo complained that encryption used in the iMessage chat service had stymied effort of DEA to eavesdrop on people’s conversations. It was said that some recent criminal investigation was affected and the DEA warned that due to the use of encryption, it appeared impossible to intercept iMessages between two iOS devices, even though they had a court order.

In other words, it was proof that the Apple was so superior that it even had law enforcement unable to match it – so, if you wanted true privacy you had to purchase an iPhone. Pure advertising, to put it shortly. However, there was some faulty logic in the memo – while it implied that the company had some brilliant security that even the federals couldn’t crack, it also implied that Jobs’ Mob had no control over its own network.

It is a known fact that Apple can boast end-to-end encryption, but the company itself holds the key, as it means that when you boot up a new iOS device, you get access to your old messages – in other words, the company stores the data in the cloud and is able to decrypt it in case of need.

It seems that the “leak” only means that DEA isn’t able to get iMessages by going to the mobile operators, but it surely can get them by going to Apple directly. Moreover, iMessages may appear even more prone to surveillance, because SMS messages are normally stored on mobile operators’ database for a brief time, while iMessages seem to be stored by the company indefinitely.

Other media reports suggest that the memo was leaked to CNet in order to falsely imply that iMessages are almost impervious to government snooping. However, there are two plausible theories: it may be part of the federal’s effort to convince lawmakers to force all communications systems keep backdoors for wiretapping, or it may be a try to convince criminals that iMessages are safe and force them to use them falsely believing the messages are protected. So, don’t text about the corpse in the trunk even if you own an iPhone.

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