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India has developed 'tool' to beat iPhone encryption
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MacNN Staff
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May 9, 2016, 06:33 AM
The Indian government says despite Apple's efforts to lock down its iPhone, it has the means to access sensitive user data, as the encryption debate spreads internationally. India's telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has told the media that his government's security agency has developed what it calls a 'mobile forensics tool' that can be used by law enforcement to by-pass iPhone encryption, reports Times of India. As with the US government, in the case of the FBI's demands that Apple to give it special access to the San Bernadino shooter's iPhone 5c, the Indian government has firmly sided with its law enforcement agencies, prioritizing national security over personal privacy.

"Smartphones including phones by Apple employ strong encryption to secure the data stored and to protect the communication," said India's telecom minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad. "Such Encryption technologies pose challenges to Law Enforcement Agencies throughout the world including India." Shankar continued to add that it's agents had been working continuously to stay on top of smartphone encryption as part of an ongoing program. "As part of this program, a tool for Mobile forensics has been developed, which handles smartphones including Apple phones."

Like the US government, the Indian government has had to deal with domestic terrorist attacks from Muslim extremists who have benefited from smartphone encryption technology. In 2008, the Mumbai terrorist attacks were coordinated through BlackBerry's encrypted BBM messenger service. The government responded by working with BlackBerry (then known as RIM), to gain access to its encrypted service for surveillance reasons. Unlike the US government, however, Prasad said that it was not working on any proposal that would introduce a backdoor or a key to unlock smartphone encryption.
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May 9, 2016, 10:27 AM
More and more, Apple's efforts to make iPhone security an highly public issue seem to have backfired. When Apple began to tout iPhones as secure from government intrusion, they created an incentitive for law enforcement and anti-terrorism agencies around the world to suggest otherwise, lest the bad guys take encouragement from Apple's claims. Even worse, in the murky world of spycraft, we can never know who is telling us the truth.
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Mike Wuerthele
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May 9, 2016, 10:28 AM
Originally Posted by Inkling View Post
we can never know who is telling us the truth.
Well, other than that having ALWAYS been the case with governments, I'm not sure I completely buy India's claims here.
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May 9, 2016, 10:48 AM
The thing is - what is the incentive for the average, honest, law-abiding user? Spouses and friends can't get in, or snoopy people around us. So what do I care if the most powerful agencies in the world can look at my phone? If you want to cry about privacy - they can walk into my house and business right now - confiscate everything in my possession - etc etc. Of course to do this, they have to have cause and a court order - same with the phone.
Charles Martin
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May 9, 2016, 11:48 AM
India's claims could be *both* true *and* intended to mislead. You'll notice the statement was in no way specific about what iPhones, running what OS versions, they were referring to.

I have no doubt that India (and every other industrialized country) can crack open an iPhone 4 running iOS 6. Call me (and the FBI) when they claim they can bypass Touch ID and iOS 9.
Charles Martin
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