Homeland Security Watch

News and analysis of critical issues in homeland security

February 17, 2016

Exploring the Dark: “Use an electron microscope to read the encryption key”

Filed under: Cybersecurity,Legal Issues,Technology for HLS — by Christopher Bellavita on February 17, 2016

On February 16th, the United States District Court for the Central District of California issued an order compelling Apple to assist federal agents search an iPhone that belonged to one of the attackers in the San Bernardino shooting.  You can read the court’s three page order here:  https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2714005/SB-Shooter-Order-Compelling-Apple-Asst-iPhone.pdf.

Lawfare’s Robert Chesney describes the legal dynamics surrounding the order here:  https://www.lawfareblog.com/apple-vs-fbi-going-dark-dispute-moves-congress-courtroom.

On February 17th, Apple issued a public letter explaining why they will contest the court’s order.  That letter is here:  http://www.apple.com/customer-letter/

Trevor Pott, writing in The Register, explains why Apple’s argument is wrong.  That explanation is here:  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/02/17/why_tim_cook_is_wrong_a_privacy_advocates_view/

A comment on Slashdot by someone named adamstew describes some of the technical details involved in doing what the court has ordered:  http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=8756397&cid=51524693

The subsequent comments bring the reader further down into a technology hole. The trip illustrates knowledge required to navigate this rapidly growing branch of homeland security.

For a conceptual end run around the usual cyber “going dark” arguments, see the Berkman Center for Internet and Society’s February 2016 report, “Don’t Panic: Making Progress on the ‘Going Dark’ Debate,” available here: https://cyber.law.harvard.edu/publications/2016/Cybersecurity/Dont_Panic.

From the report:

In this report, we question whether the “going dark” metaphor accurately describes the state of affairs. Are we really headed to a future in which our ability to effectively surveil criminals and bad actors is impossible? We think not. The question we explore is the significance of this lack of access to communications for legitimate government interests. We argue that communications in the future will neither be eclipsed into darkness nor illuminated without shadow…. The report outlines how market forces and commercial interest … point to a future with more opportunities for surveillance, not less.

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1 Comment »

Comment by William R. Cumming

February 18, 2016 @ 6:19 am

Thanks very very much Chris for the post and links. The launch an interesting test case re: surveillance not privacy!

The privacy rights of the dead are limited and in fact the phone was provided by an employer!

Huge implications for Apple’s future IMO!

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