Apple Flooded with Police Demands to Decrypt iPhones
The iPhone’s encryption is apparently secure enough that even law enforcement agencies are waiting in line to have Apple “crack” the lock and provide data to be used as evidence. According to a report by the folks at CNET
, Apple has the ability to decrypt seized iPhones and has created a waiting list to handle the incoming requests.
At one point last summer, the wait was over seven weeks long and one ATF agent reported that it took his request four months to be processed. The ATF had tried to decrypt the iPhone 4S of a Kentucky man who was accused of distributing drugs and became so frustrated that it contacted Apple for assistance, which is where the wait started.
Those of you who are at all concerned about how secure your personal information is on an iOS device should be relieved at the fact that devices can’t be cracked by federal agents. No one is entirely sure how Apple can decrypt the information for the police. Whether there is a backdoor that only Apple knows about, has custom hardware for decryption of iOS devices, or just has better-trained cryptologists.
There are products that are supposed to help crack codes, such as Elcomsoft’s iOS Forensic Toolkit, which claims to crack a four-digit iOS 4 or iOS 5 passcode in less than 40 minutes. It’s when someone uses a PIN or password with more characters that the decryption time takes a much longer time. The post cites Simson Garfinkel from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, who estimates that cracking a 10-digit PIN could take as long as 25 years using common brute-force methods.
What this really means for the average law-abiding citizen is that a longer passphrase or PIN can keep your iOS data protected. For those engaged in illegal activities, it should be known that Apple knows how to free your data to law enforcement and will do just that.