Tag Archives: FBI

Texas Rangers Issue Order for Apple to Unlock iPhone SE Owned by Texas Church Shooter

This might be a photo of a Texas Ranger or FBI agent. Or it’s a child who doesn’t understand what they’re doing. I can’t tell the difference anymore.

Hey, I’m not making a mockery of American justice, that’s the job of FBI agents and Texas Rangers, apparently. Despite knowing that the shooter in the Texas church shooting acted alone from his history of such violence, had no ties to terrorist or militia groups, and was only able to get a gun due to the Air Force’s lax enforcement of gun control laws in response to domestic abuse, the FBI and Texas Rangers want to get into the shooter’s iPhone. They know nothing’s there, it’s the principle of the matter. No, really, they’re using a case that stirs up strong emotions to try to set a precedent. This way, they’ll be able to get into future phones.

Beyond the fact that there’s nothing on this phone, and ignoring the fact that the phone could have been unlocked if the FBI and police didn’t sit on it for two days straight, there’s something these bumbling law enforcement organizations seem to be missing: Apple didn’t make the iPhone SE as insecurely as the iPhone 5c in the San Bernardino case was. That means they likely can’t unlock it either now. They definitely can’t unlock the LG phone the Rangers also asked Apple to unlock.

I’ll shout that a little louder for the guys in the back eating their boogers:

Even if you didn’t royally screw up, the phone has nothing, and now Apple can’t unlock it, even if they wanted to.

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Texas Gunman’s Locked Phone Reignites Encryption Debate

Another locked smartphone, another garbage reason for demanding access, and another FBI screwup that made this all possible. Either the FBI is woefully incompetent, incapable of getting into a phone (let alone protecting this country from domestic threats), or they’re intentionally screwing up in order to create demand for a precedence that would let them destroy personal security. In the past, the FBI has stated that they’re more interested in setting up a precedence than getting into these devices.

Let’s back up, what are we talking about here? We’ll start by going back to December 2nd, 2015. That’s the date of the San Bernadino attack where 14 people were killed and 22 injured. This started a long and frustrating attack on personal privacy and even free speech from the FBI. The FBI was trying to get into the shooter’s work phone—an older iPhone 5c with reduced security—despite evidence that the phone had nothing of use for them on it. They botched their attempts to log in, preventing Apple from helping them to bypass the encryption by doing a backup to their servers, which they could then decrypt. After locking the phone themselves, the FBI then laid the blame on Apple, saying they should be forced to make a backdoor through encryption for law enforcement. However, this is a multifaceted problem. 1) Creating such a back door would destroy security on all smartphones, through precedence to force other manufacturers to create these backdoors and through leaks. The lack of encryption would put people in the U.S. in danger of having their phones stolen or hacked, would put people living under an authoritarian regime in trouble, women and minorities, especially, and it would hamper our ability to secure devices for politicians, diplomats, and other targets for hacking from foreign entities. (Of course, after Comey’s attack on Hillary Clinton during the election, maybe he was pro-Russian hacking all along.) 2) Forcing Apple to write software would be a violation of the company’s employees’ right to free speech. Software is protected free speech, and this would be the government forcing a company to create a worse product, something that should have horrified “small government” Republicans. It did—for the most part—not upset them, but, as the party leans more authoritarian than traditionally conservative, and with a few allies on the Democrat’s side, like Barrack Obama, such intrusions on individual rights are becoming more common.

In Texas, a man who shouldn’t have been able to buy a gun was able to do just that, skirting gun control laws due to Air Force’s refusal to enforce necessary gun control through accurate reporting. The shooter then took that gun and went to his mother-in-law’s church, killing many people inside. The FBI got ahold of his phone, botched entry again, and, despite knowing that the man was a domestic abuser with a history of violent and loosely targeted attacks, not a terrorist with a network or help, the FBI is still insisting that the just need to get into the phone.

The FBI’s starting to sound like a child begging for an expensive toy they’ll likely break on Christmas Day: “But please, U.S. citizens, can we please violate your constitutional rights and privacy?”

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The FBI Botched the Gamergate Investigation. Incompetence or Indifference?

Death threats, bomb threats, shooting threats, swatting, doxing, and stalking… with no arrests? Either someone very rich hired a team of incredible lawyers, or we’re talking about the FBI’s botched investigation into sexual harassment, misogyny, and violent threats against women’s lives, AKA: Gamergate. Obviously, it’s the latter. The FBI released redacted and unclassified documents pertaining to their Gamergate investigation, which seemed to revolve around the harassment of two women involved with the gaming industry, Anita Sarkeesian, of Feminist Frequency, and Brianna Wu, game developer and congress hopeful. Though the FBI was able to track down people who doxxed Wu, threatened a college campus, and engaged in other illegal activities, but no charges were pressed. The FBI sent a clear message to misogynists everywhere: we don’t care if you harass women.

Fair warning: below are some screenshots from the report. They include emails sent by harassers. Harsh language is included. 
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Hacker Steals and Releases Tools FBI Used to Hack San Bernardino Shooter’s Phone

A few months ago, the FBI worked tirelessly to force Apple to create an easily hacked version of iOS. They went so far as to sue for the right to force Apple employees to create software they didn’t want to create, a clear violation of their first amendment rights. One of the largest complaints Apple had about the measure was that there would be no way to secure iOS devices if anyone had access to these tools, because eventually that hacked version of iOS would leak out, and hackers and governments all over the world would be able to compromise the security of older iPhone devices. They also didn’t want to set a precedent that would allow the U.S. government to force people to work against their will and create backdoors in future operating systems for them. 

In the end, an Israeli company, Cellebrite, was able to hack into the iPhone 5c in question for the FBI. The FBI dropped its case against Apple, and ceased involvement in other cases so they would not have to reveal how they were able to get into the iPhone 5c. But, just as technology experts and Apple warned them, these tools never stay private.
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Microsoft Proved Why a Master Key is a Bad Thing

A portion of the “Golden Key”

When the FBI was suing Apple to create an easily hacked version of iOS, everyone in the tech community was baffled. The FBI was working hard to violate the rights of Apple employees as well as risk the security of everyone with a mobile device. We all pointed out that the software would leak, either accidentally or intentionally, and that would compromise everyone’s security. The FBI balked at the idea, but the NSA agreed, creating operating systems with backdoor security holes is a terrible idea. Despite everyone pointing out that the FBI was wrong, they held on until it was obvious they could not win a trial. Now, Microsoft has helped prove we were right all along, by accidentally leaking a vital key that allows Windows devices to be compromised. The so-called “Golden Key” was leaked accidentally by a Microsoft developer, which was used during development. Microsoft is unable to close every security flaw they created by leaking this key, and they’ve only proven that a master key is a very risky thing to create. 
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FBI Spent Over $1 Million Unlocking a Phone

It's not just Apple vs the FBI anymore, is it?

How much would you spend for an unlocked phone that has nothing of value on it? Nothing? $1? $5? How about a cool $1.34 million? No? Does that sound like too much taxpayer money to waste on a phone that everyone agreed would be useless? If you're the FBI, who was willing to take first amendment rights from U.S. citizens, as well as security and privacy from people all over the world, potentially endangering hundreds of millions, why would you care about a few millions? After all, what's a few million among firends? We are still friends, right, FBI?

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Important Update from the FBI Regarding the San Bernardino Shooter’s Phone

Here's everything they have:_________

Oh, wait, no, they still have nothing. Weeks of fighting Apple, trying to strip away free speech rights of all Americans, and the security and privacy of all smartphone owners in the world, all for a phone that has nothing on it. They've had nearly three weeks to go through the device, and still have nothing. Way to protect the American people and instill confidence in the organization, guys.