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An Israeli Firm Is Reportedly Helping the FBI Unlock the San Bernardino Killer’s Phone

Apple has refused to help investigators, citing privacy concerns

The FBI being apparently assisted by an Israeli tech firm in its efforts to unlock the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook — a perpetrator of December’s attacks in San Bernardino, Calif.

Apple has been steadfast in its refusal to aid the FBI in accessing the phone’s information, saying that doing so would breach privacy rights, but U.S. prosecutors said on Monday that a “nongovernmental third party” had provided them with a solution. On Wednesday, the English-language version of Israeli news website Ynet.co.il, in an article that featured reporting from Reuters, ventured that the “third party” in question is Cellebrite, an Israeli “mobile forensics” firm that has been under contract with the FBI since 2013.

The firm, which has worked with law-enforcement and intelligence agencies around the world, prides itself on its ability to unlock locked Apple devices. A page on its website dedicated to subject claims that “Cellebrite’s Advanced Investigative Services (CAIS) offers global law enforcement agencies a breakthrough service to unlock Apple devices running iOS 8.x.”

It adds: “This unique capability is the first of its kind — unlock of Apple devices running iOS 8.x in a forensically sound manner and without any hardware intervention or risk of device wipe.”  Read More

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Apple says San Bernardino iPhone case is ‘unprecedented,’ cannot be decided in a vacuum

Apple’s crack legal team, led by Theodore Boutrous, Jr. and Ted Olson, in today’s response (via Christina Warren) reassert many of the same arguments posed in an initial response to the California court order, specifically limitations to the All Writs Act and potential infringement of Apple’s First Amendment rights. The case, Apple says, is not about “one iPhone,” but rather precedent for compelling private companies to hand over customer data at the behest of law enforcement officials.

“It has become crystal clear that this case is not about a ‘modest’ order and a ‘single iPhone,’ as the FBI director himself admitted when testifying before Congress two weeks ago,” the filing reads. “Instead, this case hinges on a contentious policy issue about how society should weigh what law enforcement officials want against the widespread repercussions and serious risks their demands would create.”

Apple references a recent congressional hearing on encryption attended by FBI Director James Comey, Apple’s lead counsel Bruce Sewell and other associated parties. Comey at the hearing said he would “of course” leverage any precedent set in the California case to unlock iPhones in other   Read More

Google reveals number of National Security Letters sent in last 4 years

Google has revealed the number of National Security Letters (NSL) that it has received in the last four years alone. The numbers are a general estimate of NSLs sent to Google by the government. The FBI sends NSLs to various entities, including businesses, internet service providers, credit card companies, and more. They demand that those entities deliver confidential information about their customers such as phone numbers, e-mail addresses, purchase history, web history, and more. Anything is fair game as long as it pertains to the FBI’s investigation.

Google received up to 4000 NSLs for over 9000 users accounts

Google has received 0-999 NSLs each year for the past 4 years from the FBI. Google isn’t allowed to release the exact amount legally because the numbers may interfere with the FBI’s investigations, but it is able to provide a range. In 2009, the FBI asked Google to deliver confidential information from over 1000-1999 of its users. In 2010, it was asked to deliver info on 2000-2999 users, and in 2011 and 2012, it was asked to deliver info on 1000-1999 users each year.

National Security Letters can be issued by the FBI even without a court order, which makes them powerful and abusive. The Electronic Frontier Foundation stated, “Of all the dangerous government surveillance powers that were expanded by the USA Patriot Act, the National Security Letter… is one of the most frightening and invasive.” Many people have voiced their concerns over the NSLs and their extensive use.  Read More

FBI: We need wiretap-ready Web sites – now

The FBI is asking Internet companies not to oppose a controversial proposal that would require firms, including Microsoft, Facebook, Yahoo, and Google, to build in backdoors for government surveillance.

In meetings with industry representatives, the White House, and U.S. senators, senior FBI officials argue the dramatic shift in communication from the telephone system to the Internet has made it far more difficult for agents to wiretap Americans suspected of illegal activities, CNET has learned.

The FBI general counsel’s office has drafted a proposed law that the bureau claims is the best solution: requiring that social-networking Web sites and providers of VoIP, instant messaging, and Web e-mail alter their code to ensure their products are wiretap-friendly.

“If you create a service, product, or app that allows a user to communicate, you get the privilege of adding that extra coding,” an industry representative who has reviewed the FBI’s draft legislation told CNET. The requirements apply only if a threshold of a certain number of users is exceeded, according to a second industry representative briefed on it.

The FBI’s proposal would amend a 1994 law, called the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act, or CALEA, that currently applies only to telecommunications providers, not Web companies. The Federal Communications Commission extended CALEA in 2004 to apply to broadband networks.  Read More

Infected Computers to Lose Web Access When FBI Band-Aid Falls Off

Come July 9, about 350,000 computers in the United States alone may lose access to the Internet because they had previously been infected with DNSChanger malware.

The malware stealthily redirected victims accessing various websites to rogue servers controlled by a cybercriminal ring.

Six of the seven alleged cybercrooks were arrested in November as part of a two-year operation by the United States FBI and foreign law enforcement agencies. They have been charged in a New York court.

The FBI then obtained a court order authorizing the Internet Systems Consortium to deploy and maintain clean DNS servers until July 9.

It also took other actions, including setting up a page you can use to see whether your DNS address is among those affected.

Owners of computers at risk are mainly responsible for fixing the problem because “if a business or consumer doesn’t know there’s a problem, it’s a symptom of ignorance, and fixing the problem for them this time does nothing to address the long-term problem of failing to learn to use a computer securely,” Randy Abrams, an independent security consultant, told TechNewsWorld.  Read More

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