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 newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
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

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?