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Encryption Iphone Government

iPhone Encryption Hampers Investigation of Texas Shooter, Says FBI (chron.com) 240

"FBI officials said Tuesday they have been stymied in their efforts to unlock the cellphone of the man who shot and killed at least 26 people at a church here on Sunday," reports the Houston Chronicle. Slashdot reader Anon E. Muss writes: The police obtained a search warrant for the phone, but so far they've been unable to unlock it. The phone has been sent to the FBI, in the hope that they can break in... If it is secure, and the FBI can't open it, expect all hell to break loose. The usual idiots (e.g. politicians) will soon be ranting hysterically about the evil tech industry, and how they're refusing to help law enforcement.
FBI special agent Christopher Combs complained to the Chronicle that "law enforcement increasingly cannot get in to these phones."

A law professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology argues there's other sources of information besides a phone, and police officers might recognize this with better training. As just one example, Apple says the FBI could've simply just used the dead shooter's fingerprint to open his iPhone. But after 48 hours, the iPhone's fingerprint ID stops working.

iPhone Encryption Hampers Investigation of Texas Shooter, Says FBI

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Does Face ID work with corpses? Do you have to have eyes open?

  • by sunyjim ( 977424 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @07:39PM (#55532947)
    If only there was some sort of Police Work that could be done to solve these crimes without taking away everyone rights of privacy...
    • Crickets as to whether the Las Vegas shooter had a phone as well.
    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @08:21PM (#55533089)

      I think they whole reason FBI is whining is for political purposes. They want the laws to allow them to search more with fewer impediments. Thus they don't ask Apple for help since that removes the ability to whine about it.

      That said, why the 48 hour time? Does that mean living people must use the fingerprint sensor every 2 days or they're locked out?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 11, 2017 @08:34PM (#55533131)

        Not locked out, but after 48 hours you have to input the password.

      • by TheGratefulNet ( 143330 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @09:59PM (#55533381)

        basically, the FBI, CIA, NSA all are just a bunch of cron jobs.

        every 'n' days, they wake up, cry about not being able to stroll thru ALL our communications, find some trendy 'scare' story of the day and bind to it so that they can emotionally keep attacking our personal freedoms and privacy.

        every fucking time, that cron job fires, we try to silence it. but its persistent and as some have said, they're playing a long-game, here. they will KEEP trying until they find an emotional weakness and get an 'open' to create even more restrictive anti-privacy laws.

        many of us see this. but it does not matter. those that see it are not in a position to stop it. and those that can stop it,do not EVER want to stop it. they are addicts on a power trip and there's no cure for their hunger ;(

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          every fucking time, that cron job fires, we try to silence it. but its persistent and as some have said, they're playing a long-game, here

          While I agree with what you say, the long-term survival of our personal freedoms and the government's repeated appeals to emotion to erode them are mutually exclusive. Considering the stakes, is there any way at all to stop the cron job once and for all, or do we have to repeatedly quash it?

          • by Agripa ( 139780 )

            While I agree with what you say, the long-term survival of our personal freedoms and the government's repeated appeals to emotion to erode them are mutually exclusive. Considering the stakes, is there any way at all to stop the cron job once and for all, or do we have to repeatedly quash it?

            It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt." – John Philpot Curran

      • by Paradise Pete ( 33184 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @10:18PM (#55533445) Journal

        hus they don't ask Apple for help since that removes the ability to whine about it.

        Not only didn't they ask for help, but Apple reached out to them immediately and they refused the help [theverge.com] . Perhaps because they had been waiting for an opportunity to complain about encryption.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <slashdot@worf . n et> on Sunday November 12, 2017 @05:30AM (#55534475)

        I think they whole reason FBI is whining is for political purposes. They want the laws to allow them to search more with fewer impediments. Thus they don't ask Apple for help since that removes the ability to whine about it.

        That said, why the 48 hour time? Does that mean living people must use the fingerprint sensor every 2 days or they're locked out?

        Oh, it's political all right. Apple offered the FBI help to unlock the phone [engadget.com]. In fact, Apple reached out to the FBI for this - presuming the killer used Touch ID, it would be easy to unlock the phone! (Remember, there are a few ways to bypass a fingerprint sensor using fake fingerprints).

        But the FBI stalled and stalled until the window closed. You can bet it's on purpose - Apple was offering, pre-emptively, to help them (probably conjuring up a fake finger to fool the sensor). Hell, I'm sure the FBI has access to PLENTY of labs that can do this, too!

        So no, the FBI has INTENTIONALLY refused Apple's help. Why? Because the phone is not important at all. The FBI couldn't care less about the phone's contents. The political fight to remove encryption is the real target

        The phone's data is unimportant. There is no evidence on the phone the FBI wants, guaranteed. Because if there was, why else would they refuse Apple's help? This is an emotional plea to get the public saying the evil phone companies are keeping them from doing their jobs.

        Apple offered to help. The FBI deliberately ignored them. The FBI is who should account for the loss of evidence - they are the ones who deliberately destroyed it.

        • by Creepy ( 93888 )

          TFA said the police had it first and handed it to the FBI when they couldn't get into it. There isn't a timeline, so it is possible the FBI was locked out already when they got the phone. Also the article said Texas police were FLYING the phone to Quantico to be cracked, so apparently the FBI doesn't even have the phone yet and they were just called in to consult on cracking it. Even if they drove it to a regional office, there's no telling if there's a competent person there that could help them. The FBI e

    • by rmdingler ( 1955220 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @09:37PM (#55533303) Journal

      If only there was some sort of Police Work that could be done to solve these crimes without taking away everyone rights of privacy...

      For instance, a detailed record of all the calls & text messages you've made and received is available from the cellphone company with your righteous subpoena.

      Why do you need into the phone again?

      • by Etcetera ( 14711 )

        If only there was some sort of Police Work that could be done to solve these crimes without taking away everyone rights of privacy...

        For instance, a detailed record of all the calls & text messages you've made and received is available from the cellphone company with your righteous subpoena.

        Why do you need into the phone again?

        That would have been fine until about 2011. Nowadays, even a novice user can end up "accidentally" using over-the-top services whether they even really intended to or not, let alone someone who was half-way competent and intending to cover their tracks. It's not about getting into their POTS and SMS interfaces, it's about getting into the other data records present on the portable computer system they kept on them 24 hours a day.

      • by sootman ( 158191 )

        FaceTime voice or video calls are not routed through the phone company, nor are messages sent through iMessage.

        Not that I'm saying the FBI should have a backdoor into all of our phones -- I'm just pointing out that what you said isn't entirely true.

    • If only there was some sort of Police Work that could be done to solve these crimes

      Worse than that, the crime is essentially solved already - the name and whereabouts of the perpetrator are not in question. This would seem to be part of the same desperate search that played out in Las Vegas to "find a motive" and the only apparent reason why they would be doing that is to somehow prove that there is something more to mass killings than the fact that an individual with a grudge has access to an unlimited supply of weaponary.

    • They already have his call records (phone company) and his texts and emails (nsa). What else do they need?
    • This is the standard answer here on /. is posting it early in the conversation is a guaranteed ticket to a +5, but it certainly seems outdated. There was a time when planning/committing crimes involved actual human interaction. Meetings in back rooms, things like that. Now you can do all of the planning via your phone and, in many cases (i.e financial fraud) carry the whole thing out electronically. So there is way less physical evidence these days than there used to be. Obviously with a shooting you h
  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @07:42PM (#55532953)
    Guy busted his kid's skull. Guy took weapons on base. Guy spent a year in the brig. Guy got dogs off Craigslist to shoot for target practice.

    Guy was a major asshole with huge red flags over his head who should have been found and neutralized years ago. If only the Air Force had followed existing laws that would have prevented him from buying guns. But no, we need more gun control and backdoor encryption.

    The phone? The fibbies knew there was a 48 hour timeout on the fingerprint thing. The fibbies knew without that they didn't stand a chance of getting into the phone (or they have a way in they don't want us to know about).

    This is just the government narrative of "we have to have backdoor encryption cuz this dude".
    • This.

      The FBI did not want to get its hands dirty.

      Look at your phone.

      It has email addresses, phone numbers, voicemails, text messages, location information, etc. THAT ARE NOT YOURS!

      Also, the FBI has all it needs in this matter to close the case.

      Apple is in a familiar spot: Looking at the FBI and then looking at the consumers.

      Guess which interested party gives money to Apple?

      If Apple were to provide open phones, whichever company provided a secure phone would grab market share as iPhone owners tossed theirs i

    • Or, y'know, if the dems hadn't filibustered the Cruz-Grassley bill in 2013 which would have forced govt agencies to forward the available paperwork to NICS or face penalties.

    • by swb ( 14022 )

      I think it's in the nature of the all-volunteer military that they wind up doing the equivalent of HR sanitation work, sifting through a ton of no-other-options people and winding up with some heavy rejects.

      I think the military just want these people out and off their cost structures. Reporting them, labeling them and dealing with the inevitable claims that result from anything other than cutting them loose and closing their files would cost them money. Inevitably many would claim their problems were made

      • +1 mod.
        Well... I'd have to say this could sadly be the case. While certain military aspects are done to the T (funerals, general healthcare), others fall to the wayside.

  • by fermion ( 181285 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @07:49PM (#55532981) Homepage Journal
    A weak pathetic white guy who liked to beat his wife and crack his infants skull went in a shot a lot of people. It happens often enough? What else do we need to know.

    We know the USAF gave him a minimum sentence for cracking his babies skull, did not give him a dishonorable discharge, and chose to protect this baby beater by not entering his information into the criminal database. If there is anything to investigate, it is whey the USAF protect wife and kid heaters. The USAF, in fact, could have put him in jail for fiver years, given him a dishonorable discharge, and made his crime public record. The reason that dozens of people are dead is because they chose not to.

    The iPhone thing is just another effort to continue to erode our rights to privacy. It is not going to bring the dead back. It is not going to prevent the air force from releasing another trained killer, maybe this time a baby killer, back into society to murder even more people.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's obvious. There is some retarded theory going around that you can find "triggers". Once you find these triggers, you can eliminate them and these problems won't happen anymore. Everyone wants to know "What set him off?" It's really the height of stupidity to believe that you can find a single, simple reason for something like this.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by fermion ( 181285 )
        The most reliable precursor is a white male who beats their wife and kids, triggered by some sort of martial problem. The mother in law attended the church in question. We already know this.
      • by nbauman ( 624611 )

        One of the most common triggers is poverty. Eliminate poverty and you've eliminated a lot of family violence.
         

    • by dog77 ( 1005249 )
      What does the color of his skin have to do with anything? You used "white guy" together with negative adjectives.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    And we have the right to keep and bear arms. So sayeth the Fourth Amendment.

    So the FBI better come up with a different strategy than needing to be able to unlock everyone's phones. What do they think is on that phone anyway? I rather doubt Kelley kept anything interesting on his phone; maybe his Contact list? Then subpoena his call records from his phone company. If it was an iPhone it was probably sync'ed to the cloud; subpoena it from Apple.

    FBI agents swore an oath to uphold the Constitution. Maybe they n

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The reaction of the right bothers me greatly when these incidents happen. It's incredibly illogical and harmful.

    The fact is, the shooter managed to buy guns because he didn't disclose information for the background check, and that information wasn't otherwise available. He should have been unable to purchase guns on the basis that he had mental health issues, had escaped from a mental health facility, and had a history of violent behavior. Universal background checks are partly about requiring all firearm t

    • ...that a well-regulated militia would have denied this stone-bonker a gun.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 11, 2017 @08:38PM (#55533141)

        Here is the 2nd Amendment:

        A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

        Back in the day, the word "well regulated" mean "well equipped". The revolutionaries had just finished fending off the well equipped military of the King of England, and they did so because men of fighting age had arms.

        In order to keep the new American State free, it's necessary to protect the State's freedom with a well equipped group of fighters. Thus, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed, because not only is that an inalienable right endowed by the Creator (as indicated in the Declaration of Independence), but keeping and bearing arms allows The People to be ready to fight for their freedom—especially against a distant, intractable, Tyrannical power, as the Federal government increasingly seems to be.

        Look, the American theory of government is that rights existed before the government; it is not the government that grants rights, but rather the "Creator" (i.e., rights are an inherent aspect of sentient beings). A government gets its authority from the fact that The People collectively agree to delegate some of their own authorities to the Government; yet, the founders thought that the right to bear arms is so fundamental and important to a Free society, that they decided to enshrine that right explicitly in the 2nd Amendment (rather than leave it as one of the implicit, "unenumerated" rights), and in doing so, the founders forbade the government from even accepting from The People any delegation of the associated authority—as the Constitution is currently written, it's not even possible for The People to delegate away their right to keep and bear arms.

        If the governments of the United States ever did get rid of the Second Amended, there would be a lot of people who would cry "Tyranny!"; those people would deny ever having legitimately delegated their right away, and there would be—without any doubt—a second Civil War.

        • by thomn8r ( 635504 )

          Back in the day, the word "well regulated" mean "well equipped".

          *citation needed

      • a well-regulated militia would have denied this stone-bonker a gun.

        One [af.mil] did.

    • > He shouldm't have been unable to purchase guns on the basis that ...and had a history of violent behavior.

      > expand the data used in conducting these checks. Those on the right complain loudly that this somehow violates their second amendment rights

      You're totally unaware that you're advocating for exactly the same things the NRA is saying. Under existing federal law, his attempts to purchase should have been blocked because he had plead guilty to intentionally attacking his toddler stepson so bad

      • Passing and ignoring laws shows a tyrannical government. There was a saying in the USSR - "give us the person, we will find a law that he broke". You may be doing the smae things as everybody else, but if you piss of someone with a bit of power, they will get you, because some things everyone is doing are actually illegal, just not enforced. But they will make an exception for you and enforce the law.

  • Uh huh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vegan Cyclist ( 1650427 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @08:32PM (#55533123) Homepage

    Phone encryption is the problem here, not how easy it is for any lunatic to get a gun in the US. Sounds like just another distraction from the real issue.

  • by bobstreo ( 1320787 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @08:40PM (#55533151)

    Maybe a 48 hour cooling off period and a criminal background check should be required before you are able to buy an iPhone.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday November 11, 2017 @09:05PM (#55533225)
    what exactly are they hoping to learn? This sort of thing has been going on for ages and we've done fuck all about it. No sign of gun control since it's a complete losing issue politically. No expansion of mental health services. Hell, this guy was kicked out of the church by the pastor.

    There's nothing to investigate here. A depressed loon ball with access to high power killing equipment who'd been shit on a bit too much said 'fuck it'. Case closed. What, you think you're gonna find the illuminati are behind it all? This is just another excuse to get decryption keys and back doors from manufactures. Fortunately it'll go nowhere since the more we discuss it the more we have to bring up universal medical care (which nobody wants to pay for) or gun control (which is DOA).
    • what exactly are they hoping to learn? This sort of thing has been going on for ages and we've done fuck all about it.

      Exactly. The Onion is supposed to be satire, but sometimes it is disturbingly close to real news.

      https://www.theonion.com/natio... [theonion.com]

    • http://www.motherjones.com/pol... [motherjones.com]

      Compiled stats on mass gun shootings in US for a few decades. I haven't verified they are 100% accurate, but they do have references.

      You can try to look for patterns. One of the things I noticed is the vast majority of the guns were obtained illegally, whatever that means in each case. One thing that was very common was there were a lot of military people involved. There were also a lot of unhappy workers involved shooting up their old places of work. Plenty of mental health

  • Instead of handing over the encryption keys to the government why not just employ some simple investigation instead? If they need to know what calls were made from the phone find out which carrier was used and get that info from them. If they want to see what emails were sent that can be found out too.

    The FBI and the cops don't want to do this because it means having to get one of those pesky warrants. And that requires just cause, etc. No, they would rather just invade our privacy and trample on our 4th am

  • Does anyone know if the FBI considered the acoustic analysis [youtube.com] that was offered in response to their pleas for help to the public?

    It's worth the 30 minutes, the analysis presented some compelling information, was well explained and reasoned.

  • Why would the FBI be all panicky about being unable to get into the murderer's phone? Are they looking for signs of involvement with ISIS or the Russians? Who helped him get the guns? Well, other than the Air Farce, in failing to inform the NCIC of his court martial or his Bad Conduct Discharge or his conviction for domestic violence. Had the Air Force done that, then we wouldn't be having this discussion. On the other hand, most law enforcement agencies can't be bothered to actually arrest and prosecute cr

  • The guy is dead and wont be shooting anyone else and if he wasn't, they would have more enough physical evidence to send the guy to Huntsville for lethal injection.

    What exactly are they hoping to find by getting into this guy's phone that they cant get through physical evidence at the crime scene?

    • The FBI assumes there is some kind of dark web of solo spree killers.

      • by jonwil ( 467024 )

        Thinking about it some more, it does make some sense. The FBI probably wants to know if he was a criminal (who shot the place up for his own reasons) or a terrorist (who shot the place up because Islamic State or whoever told him to go commit violence in the name god).

        If he was a terrorist then they need to find out how his mind got warped to the point where he decided to go shoot up a church so they can take further action in an attempt to stop other people from having their mind similarly warped and reduc

  • ... Ineptitude Hampers Investigation of Texas Shooter, Says Common Sense.

  • Those pesky laws, constitutions, and amendments, we should just do away with them since they're interfering with investigations, right? Bring back the Writ of Assistance too I suppose?

    Methinks they're just lazy, they need to relearn how to do investigations without relying on the crutch of stealing all our rights away to make their jobs easier. This is just a technological barrier, and has done far less to "interfere" with their work than has the constitution. If every time they ran into an investigative

    • Those pesky laws, constitutions, and amendments, we should just do away with them since they're interfering with investigations, right? Bring back the Writ of Assistance too I suppose?

      Already done. It's called a National Security Letter, and it's even better than a Writ of Assistance. When you receive it, you can't tell anyone you have.

  • I'm pretty sure I read it in a few places when Touch ID was new -- it needs a life finger to work. It won't work with a cadaver.

  • How did the FBI investigate cases when most people didn't carry small computers on them all the time? I'm not really that concerned about what is effectively a blip of about 20 years where where personal devices were valuable evidence. We still solved crimes before this and we'll still solve crimes after this.

    The alternative to encrypting every phone is rampant identity theft, and given that the government is happy to bail out credit agencies and banks but not help your average taxpaying victim has already

    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      Two agents (one to be a witness for the other) would drive around the USA and interview in person everyone connected to the interesting person.
      The interviews would take as long as needed and very repetitive. Lots of rephrased questions about politics, books, reading... politics..
      All past education, mil, friends, past neighbors, places of work. Then a look at books, other reading material, music, art, all contacts with people outside the USA.
      Local court, state, medical and federal court paper files and
  • Ten years ago, that shooter would have had a Nokia phone. With no information stored on it. I can't remember the FBI complaining that phones didn't store enough information, and were hindering their efforts back then?
  • For someone with resources of a Nation state or the FBI, it is totally possible to get into an encrypted Android or iPhone. All one has to do is desolder the SOC and brute force the password, which is likely a crappy one easily found using a rainbow table. Even a 16 char random password can be brute forced in a few days with modern cracking rigs.

    This whole process was illustrated by a contractor the last time this was in the news.

  • Really, I know people need work but isn't it enough to simply say that a person with a severe emotional problem murdered a bunch of people. One can investigate the purple, flying Jesus out of it all and in the end it will come down to a mentally ill man acting out with great rage and hatred. Do we really need to spend millions to come to that conclusion?
  • I am sorry, but I simply do not care. No real purpose is served in finding out the motives of these men.

  • I hate to say this but we have to modify metal detectors to sense that someone is carrying big weapons in any buildings. Maybe have door locks automatically trapping the suspect in the foyer. Have small windows so he can't shoot his way out. Even if you don't want to stop them. Keep the dam cameras on them at the very least! Then you will know their locations. Churches and Schools almost have to have sharp shooters above since the EN ARE EH can't keep their hands off of big weapon money! ..White House updat

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