If you were purchasing a safe for your home to store important things in, would you care if law enforcement had a problem accessing the safe? I’m going to bet that you’d understand that it’d be a higher quality safe if anyone had difficulty opening it. And if the police complained to you or the company that made it that they had a hard time opening that model up when criminals owned them, you’d ask, “And that’s my problem - how?”
That’s happening right now with smart phones. And more specifically that’s happening right now with Apple’s iPhones. Sometime earlier this year a company called Grayshift started selling a box called GrayKey to law enforcement that had the ability to circumvent the rate limiting lock out on an iPhone’s password.
However, as Apple, like any responsible technology company with a modicum of focus on the security of their products and privacy of their customers is made aware of a security issue - and fixes it.
- BBC - iPhone security loophole used by police closed by Apple
- MacRumors - Apple Confirms Plans to Disable Law Enforcement Access to iPhone via Tools Like GrayKey Box
- Schneier on Security - New iPhone May Include Device-Unlocking Security
It’s a simple fix, after the phone has not been unlocked for awhile, the USB port stops doing business with data, only power. This means that the GreyKey unit will have to be utilized and successful within 60 minutes of a phone being taken from its used, presuming they had just locked the phone as it was snatched from their hands. The probability of this is close to zero.
Some write ups have made it clear that law enforcement is not happy about this. And I can’t blame them for that, because everyone wants their job to be easier. But I don’t sympathize with them at all. I share the mindset of Mr. Moxie Marlinspike who said at a RSA conference that law enforcement should be hard. Everyone should have something to hide and everyone should have a right to hide it. The powers that be only become more powerful by removing our liberty from their power.
Add this to the list of reasons my next phone will probably be another iPhone.