FBI Forensic Examiner Stephen Flatley Calls Apple 'Jerks' and 'Evil Geniuses' for Encrypting iPhones

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Senior FBI forensic examiner Stephen R. Flatley spoke at the International Conference on Cyber Security yesterday, and during the talk he discussed Apple and the FBI's differing opinions on the topic of smartphone encryption. According to Motherboard, Flatley described the company as "jerks" and "evil geniuses" for creating iOS device encryption that is so powerful as to prevent Apple itself from entering users' iPhones.

Flatley said that recent updates to Apple device encryption have made password guesses slower, by increasing hash iterations from 10 thousand to 10 million, "making his and his colleagues' investigative work harder." This extended brute force crack time from a few days to two months, leading to Flatley stating that Apple is "pretty good at evil genius stuff." No detailed context was given regarding his "jerks" comment.

Image of Stephen Flatley taken by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai via Motherboard

That means, he explained, that "password attempts speed went from 45 passwords a second to one every 18 seconds," referring to the difficulty of cracking a password using a "brute force" method in which every possible permutation is tried. There are tools that can input thousands of passwords in a very short period of time--if the attempts per minute are limited, it becomes much harder and slower to crack.

"Your crack time just went from two days to two months," Flatley said. "At what point is it just trying to one up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?" he added. "Apple is pretty good at evil genius stuff."
Flatley's comments come nearly two years after the Apple-FBI dispute began, when a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI enter the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino. The FBI said it wanted Apple's help to enter just Farook's iPhone 5c, but Apple explained that the software it was asked to create could become a "master key" and be able to get information from any iPhone or iPad.

For this reason, Apple denied the request and CEO Tim Cook penned an open letter describing the potential for setting a "dangerous precedent" if the company did go along with the order. The battle eventually ended a few months later after the government discovered an alternative way of entering Farook's iPhone 5c, reportedly with the help of Israeli firm Cellebrite.

Flately mentioned Cellebrite as well during the security conference, describing the firm as "another evil genius" that counters Apple's encryption and can help the FBI when it needs to enter a smartphone. The forensic examiner was described as not clearly stating Cellebrite's name, but "facetiously coughing" at the same time to somewhat obscure the comment.

Although the Apple-FBI dispute has ended, debates over smartphone encryption have remained ongoing the past few years. In October 2017, a report came out stating that the FBI was unable to retrieve data from 6,900 mobile devices it had attempted to gain access to over the previous 11 months. That number accounted for half of the total devices the FBI tried to get into, and FBI Director Christopher Wray described the FBI's inability to retrieve information from these devices as a "huge, huge problem."

At the end of the case in 2016, Apple issued a statement explaining that the company will continue to assist the FBI when it can, but not at the expense of the data protection, security, and privacy of its customers: "Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security, and privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: FBI Forensic Examiner Stephen Flatley Calls Apple 'Jerks' and 'Evil Geniuses' for Encrypting iPhones
 
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Robert.Walter

macrumors 68000
Jul 10, 2012
1,538
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Coming from a LE family, I totally support the FBI in its life-or-death struggle with Trump.

Also coming from a family with historians and lawyerly members, I don’t, however, support the FBI on the encryption issue.

I don’t support this agents sentiments or comments.

I don’t care if better encryption makes his job harder. I hope it makes his job impossible. Only then will we know our devices are truly safe and along the lines of the 4th Amdt we can be truly secure in our new school possessions and papers.
 

ethanwa79

macrumors regular
Sep 13, 2014
196
604
Apparently the FBI thinks their the only one out there doing brute force password cracking... like other enemy countries don't do that? Or rouge hackers? FBI is so full of themselves with this crap. Apple doesn't care about the FBI, they care about their USERS and their RIGHT TO PRIVACY.
 

Delgibbons

macrumors 6502a
Dec 14, 2016
683
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London



Senior FBI forensic examiner Stephen R. Flatley spoke at the International Conference on Cyber Security yesterday, and during the talk he discussed Apple and the FBI's differing opinions on the topic of smartphone encryption. According to Motherboard, Flatley described the company as "jerks" and "evil geniuses" for creating iOS device encryption that is so powerful as to prevent Apple itself from entering users' iPhones.

Flatley said that recent updates to Apple device encryption have made password guesses slower, by increasing hash iterations from 10 thousand to 10 million, "making his and his colleagues' investigative work harder." This extended brute force crack time from a few days to two months, leading to Flatley stating that Apple is "pretty good at evil genius stuff." No detailed context was given regarding his "jerks" comment.


Image of Stephen Flatley taken by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai via Motherboard

Flatley's comments come nearly two years after the Apple-FBI dispute began, when a federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI enter the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino. The FBI said it wanted Apple's help to enter just Farook's iPhone 5c, but Apple explained that the software it was asked to create could become a "master key" and be able to get information from any iPhone or iPad.

For this reason, Apple denied the request and CEO Tim Cook penned an open letter describing the potential for setting a "dangerous precedent" if the company did go along with the order. The battle eventually ended a few months later after the government discovered an alternative way of entering Farook's iPhone 5c, reportedly with the help of Israeli firm Cellebrite.

Flately mentioned Cellebrite as well during the security conference, describing the firm as "another evil genius" that counters Apple's encryption and can help the FBI when it needs to enter a smartphone. The forensic examiner was described as not clearly stating Cellebrite's name, but "facetiously coughing" at the same time to somewhat obscure the comment.

Although the Apple-FBI dispute has ended, debates over smartphone encryption have remained ongoing the past few years. In October 2017, a report came out stating that the FBI was unable to retrieve data from 6,900 mobile devices it had attempted to gain access to over the previous 11 months. That number accounted for half of the total devices the FBI tried to get into, and FBI Director Christopher Wray described the FBI's inability to retrieve information from these devices as a "huge, huge problem."

At the end of the case in 2016, Apple issued a statement explaining that the company will continue to assist the FBI when it can, but not at the expense of the data protection, security, and privacy of its customers: "Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security, and privacy. Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: FBI Forensic Examiner Stephen Flatley Calls Apple 'Jerks' and 'Evil Geniuses' for Encrypting iPhones
Just leave the password field blank. Worth a go ;)
 

Porco

macrumors 68040
Mar 28, 2005
3,031
5,642
Let's not get into a slanging match or insulting people who, for the large part are actually trying to protect people and do the right thing.

Let's concentrate on the fact that protecting encryption for all is important because if you weaken it, it's weakened for all, not just the 'good guys'.

Let's educate, not denigrate.

Let's protect everyone's privacy and security in the best way overall, which is to have strong encryption that has no intentional flaws.
 

OldSchoolMacGuy

Suspended
Jul 10, 2008
4,202
8,906
He's good at roping all of you in.

The truth is we've been selling the FBI and others tools since 2008 that allow simple investigation on iOS.

But keep thinking you're safe if it makes you feel good. :D
 
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370zulu

macrumors regular
Nov 4, 2014
217
172
Way back when, you folks at the FBI used to use real crime fighting techniques to solve crimes. If all you have is whining about cell phone encryption, it shows how political, weak and ineffectual you have become in the face of fight crime. Never mind how corrupt some of you already are.
 

OldSchoolMacGuy

Suspended
Jul 10, 2008
4,202
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Apparently the FBI thinks their the only one out there doing brute force password cracking... like other enemy countries don't do that? Or rouge hackers? FBI is so full of themselves with this crap. Apple doesn't care about the FBI, they care about their USERS and their RIGHT TO PRIVACY.
You have no idea the setup they and others have. It's FAR beyond what your typical hacker has access to. There's no comparison.

The FBI isn't full of themselves at all. Show me another group that has a system capable of cracking something like FileVault in under an hour. Please, enlighten us.
 

CrystalQuest76

Suspended
Dec 14, 2015
640
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I don't keep anything on my electronic devices that are criminal in nature. Nor do i keep anything on my electronic devices that most people would consider immoral. I do know that criminals are using their electronic devices to commit crimes. I really would like it to be easier for law enforcement to catch these criminals. I do not have a problem with law enforcement being able to access my phone. I do have a problem with unethical law enforcement employees getting a hold of my financial information and stealing from my accounts. At the end of the day, law enforcement does not care about what you are doing unless you are breaking the law and endangering others.
Yes I want an encryption that will ensure that criminals do not get a hold of my information.
 
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