CIA worked to break Apple encryption: report

Apple announced last year that it was hardening encryption on its devices
Apple announced last year that it was hardening encryption on its devices

The Central Intelligence Agency has been working for years to break encryption on Apple devices, to spy on communications of iPhone and iPad users, a report said Tuesday.

Investigative news site The Intercept, citing leaked secret documents, said the effort began in 2006 as Apple was preparing to launch its first iPhone.

The report said the researchers were based at Sandia National Laboratories and presented their findings at a secret CIA conference, according to documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

The research is consistent with a broader US government program to analyze and break encryption, using a "black budget," as outlined in earlier documents leaked by Snowden.

The report would mean US intelligence services may be able to tap into what has been believed to be secure communications using Apple mobile devices.

Neither Apple not the CIA responded to an AFP request for comment.

Apple and Google both announced last year they were hardening their encryption on devices powered by their mobile software, which would not even give the companies access. That would prevent the government from gaining access even with a legal warrant.

According to The Intercept, the security researchers sought access to the keys used to encrypt data stored on Apple's devices. They aimed to get into the built-in "firmware" to gain secret access, according to the report.

The did not reveal how successful the spy efforts were but they suggest a long effort to thwart to keep data private.

The report said NSA personnel also participated in the 2012 conference where findings were presented.

US officials have in the past said intelligence efforts are aimed at thwarting terror plots, and that privacy safeguards are in place for US nationals.


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© 2015 AFP

Citation: CIA worked to break Apple encryption: report (2015, March 10) retrieved 13 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2015-03-cia-apple-encryption.html
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Mar 10, 2015
Two problems with the title of this article. One, the CIA doesn't work, they use criminal techniques to get others to commit treason in their country, which is also why they do so little of it (HUMINT is tough work). Second, CIA wouldn't know a one time pad from their grandmother's exercise pad. By law and budget, all crypto expertise is the province of the National Security Agency. CIA has no comment, because as usual, they really don't know anything about it. Try asking people at Fort George G. Meade, if you can get in the gate. BTW, breaking the encryption is usually not the way to go. Protocols, key management, and sloppy users break more encryption than all brute force techniques combined. Why doesn't Apple use open source protocols? Because then we would know how bad their security actually is. See https://www.black...m/us-14/

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