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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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iOS7-small.jpg
As part of a recent Hackers On Planet Earth (HOPE/X) conference presentation, forensic scientist and iPhone jailbreak expert Jonathan Zdziarski detailed several backdoor security mechanisms that are secretly included in iOS by Apple. These mechanisms make covert data collection easier for Apple and governmental authorities, reports Zdziarski via ZDNet.

Zdziarski confirms that iOS is reasonably secure from attack by a malicious hacker, but notes that the mobile OS includes several forensic services and noticeable design omissions that make the OS vulnerable to snooping by forensic tools.

These services, such as "lockdownd," "pcapd" and "mobile.file_relay," can bypass encrypted backups to obtain data and can be utilized via USB, Wi-Fi and possibly cellular. They also are not documented by Apple and are not developer or carrier tools as they access personal data that would be not used for network testing or app debugging purposes.

While detailing these backdoors, Zdziarski makes it clear he is not a conspiracy theorist, but does want to know why Apple appears to be deliberately compromising the security of the iPhone and opening the door to professional, covert data access.
I am not suggesting some grand conspiracy; there are, however, some services running in iOS that shouldn't be there, that were intentionally added by Apple as part of the firmware, and that bypass backup encryption while copying more of your personal data than ever should come off the phone for the average consumer. I think at the very least, this warrants an explanation and disclosure to the some 600 million customers out there running iOS devices. At the same time, this is NOT a zero day and NOT some widespread security emergency. My paranoia level is tweaked, but not going crazy. My hope is that Apple will correct the problem. Nothing less, nothing more. I want these services off my phone. They don't belong there.
Zdziarski also notes that he isn't the only one aware of these backdoors. Several existing forensic software companies, such as Cellebrite and Elcomsoft, are already exploiting them as part of the forensic services they provide to law enforcement.

Consumers who want to limit access to these backdoor services are advised by Zdziarski to enable a complex passcode in iOS and use the enterprise Apple Configurator application to set Mobile Device Management (MDM) restrictions and enable Pair locking which will delete all pairing records. This solution will block third-party forensic software, but won't protect the device contents if it is sent to Apple for analysis.

Update 7:00 PM PT: Apple has released a statement to Tim Bradshaw of the Financial Times, denying Zdziarski's claims.
We have designed iOS so that its diagnostic functions do not compromise user privacy and security, but still provides needed information to enterprise IT departments, developers, and Apple for troubleshooting technical issues. A user must have unlocked their device and agreed to trust another computer before that computer is able to access this limited diagnostic data. The user must agree to share this information, and data is never transferred without their consent.

As we have said before, Apple has never worked with any government agency from any country to create a backdoor in any of our products or services.
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: Forensic Expert Questions Covert 'Backdoor' Services Included in iOS by Apple
 

dumastudetto

macrumors 68040
Aug 28, 2013
3,624
4,535
There is no reason to believe Apple would ever do anything to deliberately compromise the security of our data. Apple is the one company that strives to do everything to protect us and our privacy from prying eyes.
 
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the Helix

macrumors regular
Sep 16, 2003
188
6
Data mining...

If the information from this article is true, it's actually quite scary.
It's like selling a TV with a built-in, hidden webcam that can peer into your private life without you knowing it.
 
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TWSS37

macrumors 65816
Feb 4, 2011
1,107
232
blah blah blah blah it's Apple so it's harmless

<if article was about Google/Android> thread burns
 
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TheHateMachine

macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2012
845
1,335
There is no reason to believe Apple would ever do anything to deliberately compromise the security of our data. Apple is the one company that strives to do everything to protect us and our privacy from prying eyes.

Ignorance is bliss!
 
Comment

benthewraith

macrumors 68040
May 27, 2006
3,130
137
Miami, FL
There is no reason to believe Apple would ever do anything to deliberately compromise the security of our data. Apple is the one company that strives to do everything to protect us and our privacy from prying eyes.

Actually, it's quite believable considering Apple may be ordered by the courts to do so. Let's not forget Obama's meetings with tech execs. It's believed Microsoft was forced to cripple BitLocker due to such an order, and it's strongly believed they either stole or found the encryption algorithm for Truecrypt. Apple did have CarrierIQ imbedded in its operating system (removed in iOS 5).
 
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gleepskip

macrumors 6502
Apr 29, 2005
358
567
If Apple removes these offending services, they will only be replaced by something more obscure that provides the same data. Now that the faucet is on, it's not going to be shut off.
 
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Santabean2000

macrumors 68000
Nov 20, 2007
1,807
1,854
Not surprised. And neither should you be.

Big biz and US Govt are inextricably linked. You fill my wallet and I'll fill yours...
 
Comment

braddick

macrumors 68040
Jun 28, 2009
3,882
936
Encinitas, CA
Statistically, very few of us live such colorful/interesting lives whereas monitoring of it would be beneficial to an outside source. Yet, with that stated, sure- this information provided in this blog is disturbing.
 
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Reason077

macrumors 68030
Aug 14, 2007
2,590
1,357
I don't understand why people get so worked up about this sort of thing.

Those backdoors are there for your protection. They are put there for the exclusive use of the governments who we democratically elected. i.e.: the good guys.

We should all stop being so suspicious, and learn to fully trust the NSA and GCHQ. These guys are serious, trained professionals - not spotty nerds who are out to steal credit card numbers or pictures of your girlfriend!

As long as these backdoors are secure (and surely they are!), then we have nothing to fear.
 
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winston1236

macrumors 68000
Dec 13, 2010
1,900
319
There is no reason to believe Apple would ever do anything to deliberately compromise the security of our data. Apple is the one company that strives to do everything to protect us and our privacy from prying eyes.

I'm guessing this is sarcasm given that they are secretly accessing customers data?
 
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OS X Dude

macrumors 6502a
Jun 30, 2007
994
277
UK
I hate all the 'wouldn't happen under Jobs' comments that get thrown around on these boards, but in this circumstance I think they may actually have some truth. Having read Jobs' biography (as an aside, if you haven't, then you definitely should - great book), he was very much against this kind of thing.

I can imagine him telling Obama exactly where to go at any meeting where he may have suggested iOS backdoors. Even if he had to back down for legal obligations, you know he'd have fought hard against it. For some reason, I can't imagine Tim having as much vigour, though I have no hard evidence to base that opinion on and I hope I'm wrong.
 
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ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
9,130
5,098
I don't understand why people get so worked up about this sort of thing.

Those backdoors are there for your protection. They are put there for the exclusive use of the governments who we democratically elected. i.e.: the good guys.

We should all stop being so suspicious, and learn to fully trust the NSA and GCHQ. These guys are serious, trained professionals - not spotty nerds who are out to steal credit card numbers or pictures of your girlfriend!

As long as these backdoors are secure (and surely they are!), then we have nothing to fear.

Yes, and we should all follow the state issued curfews and hand in our sharp kitchen utensils without resistance. It's for our own protection.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I have two things to say:
1 - If there's a backdoor for governments, there's a backdoor. It's not a matter of if but when the bad guys find out how to get in through it.
2 - What makes you think that the US election system produces good guys that care about you? We have two parties in control of the entire system. They decide who you can vote for. They make sure that if their person wins, the policies in the best interest of the party are implemented. The system doesn't produce the results that are best for the typical citizen - it produces the results that are best for the parties, and neither of them give a crap about your or me or any other typical citizen.
 
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BigBeast

macrumors 6502a
Mar 6, 2009
643
39
1. From the article, these info aggregating daemons are available to Apple, yet are relatively safe against malicious hackers.
2. If court ordered (and maybe without), mobile phone makers are required by law to divulge information about the user(s).
3. Security experts are a paranoid bunch, some are moderate, while others are extreme. All would agree that they want full granular control over all processes called on their devices. Keep dreaming.
4. I'd rather have the scenario in this article, where a relatively-trustable non-government entity has the keys to the information (info which is most likely limited) vs. the government going through much more covert pathways that gather up much more material.
5. You probably divulge more information through your Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and Instagram accounts than these back doors ever would.
 
Comment

TallManNY

macrumors 601
Nov 5, 2007
4,377
1,238
I don't understand why people get so worked up about this sort of thing.

Those backdoors are there for your protection. They are put there for the exclusive use of the governments who we democratically elected. i.e.: the good guys.

We should all stop being so suspicious, and learn to fully trust the NSA and GCHQ. These guys are serious, trained professionals - not spotty nerds who are out to steal credit card numbers or pictures of your girlfriend!

As long as these backdoors are secure (and surely they are!), then we have nothing to fear.

I believe you needed to add the sarcasm font.

Funny thing is that according to Snowden, when they did stumble across pictures of a lewd nature, they would definitely pass them around or at least call folks over to take a gander.
 
Comment

xero9

macrumors 6502a
Nov 7, 2006
860
483
I don't understand why people get so worked up about this sort of thing.

Those backdoors are there for your protection. They are put there for the exclusive use of the governments who we democratically elected. i.e.: the good guys.

We should all stop being so suspicious, and learn to fully trust the NSA and GCHQ. These guys are serious, trained professionals - not spotty nerds who are out to steal credit card numbers or pictures of your girlfriend!

As long as these backdoors are secure (and surely they are!), then we have nothing to fear.

I really hope you forgot the /s at the end of your post.
 
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TheHateMachine

macrumors 6502a
Sep 18, 2012
845
1,335
I hate all the 'wouldn't happen under Jobs' comments that get thrown around on these boards, but in this circumstance I think they may actually have some truth. Having read Jobs' biography (as an aside, if you haven't, then you definitely should - great book) he was very much against this kind of thing.

I can imagine him telling Obama exactly where to go at any meeting where he may have suggested iOS backdoors. Even if he had to back down for legal obligations, you know he'd have fought hard against it. For some reason, I can't imagine Tim having as much vigour, though I have no hard evidence to base that opinion on and I hope I'm wrong.

CarrierIQ was removed from iOS 5 and it is likely it was in each revision of iOS prior to that. It was most likely replaced with something in house and more convert (what they mention in this article) since CarrierIQ has such a horrid reputation. So secret behind the scenes data collection certainly "happened under Jobs".

https://www.macrumors.com/2011/12/0...q-in-ios-5-complete-removal-coming-in-future/
 
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cmichaelb

macrumors 68020
Aug 6, 2008
2,249
686
Italy
There is no reason to believe Apple would ever do anything to deliberately compromise the security of our data. Apple is the one company that strives to do everything to protect us and our privacy from prying eyes.

Steve Jobs did- he wouldn't allow anyone to have any backdoor into Apple software.

6 months after he died, Apple joined the PRISM program. The new Apple is not like the old Apple.
 
Comment

rdas7

macrumors regular
Nov 17, 2002
165
22
London, England
Looking forward to Apple's reply on this. Hopefully they will be as forthcoming as they were in response to ChinaTV.
 
Comment

JGIGS

macrumors 65816
Jan 1, 2008
1,417
1,315
CANADA!
Wow talk about double standards. Apple fanboys criticize Google for this all the time when it now looks like Apple is just as bad an offender if not worse the sentiment is it's ok?
 
Comment

Jsameds

Suspended
Apr 22, 2008
3,525
7,986
If the information from this article is true, it's actually quite scary.
It's like selling a TV with a built-in, hidden webcam that can peer into your private life without you knowing it.

Well LG came close to that a while back. They collected data about your viewing habits and sent them back to one of their servers secretly. They even gathered filename info on what you'd been watching via external drive/memory stick too :eek:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25018225
 
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macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
11,414
15,540
Central U.S.
If this is true, then this sucks, but what can we honestly do about it? Switch to Android? Oh sure, I bet Android is so much more secure. Yeah right. I'm starting to think it's time to make another revolution. I've got a garage, a background in design, and I'm an a**hole who is bold enough to think that I can change the world. Any hardware engineers and software developers care to join me? Nothing will change until we make it happen. If Apple turns into the new IBM then we're all screwed. It's far better to be proactive than to sit around and hope that things get better. That's what Steve did, and I'll be damned if I'll sit around while his vision gets bastardized.
 
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