The US Justice Department has decided to drop efforts to force Apple to break iPhone security for them as they discovered they no longer need their help in unlocking the devices. This after having broken into at least one locked iPhone that we know of.
Most security professionals, amateurs, and armchair commentators pointed out at the beginning of the Justice Department’s Apple fiasco that the device could probably be cracked in a weekend by any party capable of coming up with a hacking group name, a lightning cable, and a couple of sixers of MTN DEW.
I’m not claiming that Apple is inherently insecure or that Android is better here as a note, just that what needed to be done was the modification of the wipe-the-phone procedure and then throw a few thousand unlock codes at the device. All potentially doable with one modification in a weekend, with a brute force app in probably a few hours.
What the Justice Department probably got from their outside team was something better than a simple no-erase loader, and now they’ll use it until Apple patches whatever backdoor or exploit they’re using. At that point we can expect that they’ll start another lawsuit or buy a hacking group some more MTN DEW.
What does this mean for law enforcement? For the most part not too terribly much. Unless someone’s storing unsynced illegal evidence on a smart device, which is not a smart move, unlocking will get them nowhere. Then again, maybe it’ll delay law enforcement long enough for them to get away with their nefarious plans.
Or maybe we’ll catch thousands of pederasts who were using an insecure TOR client that left a local trail on their iPhones. We’ll see.