Apple's tough iPhone security causes problems for law enforcement - report

A new report suggests that Apple's security architecture could be making life easier for criminals

Apple's iOS is so secure that it's causing problems for law enforcement in criminal investigations.

That's according to MIT's Technology Review, which reports that the US Department of Justice struggles to perform examinations of iPhones and iPads seized from suspects because of the increasing use of encryption.

"I can tell you from the Department of Justice perspective if that drive is encrypted, you're done," Ovie Caroll, director of Department of Justice's cyber-crime lab, said during his keynote address at the 2012 Digital Forensics Research Conference. "When conducting criminal investigations, if you pull the power on a drive that is whole-disk encrypted you have lost any chance of recovering that data."

MIT said that Apple's security architecture makes it easy for consumers to use encryption, and difficult for someone else to steal the encrypted data. Apple uses AES-256 to encrypt data, the same algorithm uses by the National Security Agency to encrypt Top Secret data.

It's also difficult to crack the PIN code on iOS devices. Investigators have to try every possible PIN using a brute-force attack with special software to ensure that the iPhone doesn't wipe itself when the wrong PIN is entered too many times. A six digit PIN could take up to 22 hours, says MIT, a nine-digit PIN would take two and a half years, and a 10-digit pin could take 25 years. "That's good enough for most corporate secrets - and probably good enough for most criminals as well," reads the report.

"There are a lot of issues when it comes to extracting data from iOS devices," Amber Schroader, CEO of Paraben, a supplier of forensic software, hardware, and services for smartphones, told MIT. "We have had many civil cases we have not been able to process for discovery because of encryption blocking us."

See also:

Apple security guru lays out iPad, iPhone crypto architecture at Black Hat Apple publishes iOS security guide Apple's AuthenTec buy shows needed focus on mobile security

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ashleigh Allsopp

Macworld U.K.
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?