The American company DriveSavers began selling hacking services Apple iPhone. Expensive, but completely legal. It seems to be. How serious is this and what consequences can it have on Apple's reputation?
California-based company DriveSavers, which specializes in digital data recovery, said it could open any locked gadgets on the iOS operating system. Naturally, only if the company has confirmation that it is about the legal owner of the device, or its heirs.
Yes, this is the case when “white hackers” put their skills at the service of good ideas.
Apple uses the highest encryption standards, which in 2016 led to the company's conflict with the FBI over the phone terrorist. It is the highest level of data protection in the iPhone and iCloud cloud service is one of the key trumps Apple. Thanks to this, many of the world's powerful today quietly trust the most important secrets to the iPhone and iPad.
And suddenly it turns out that someone is able to hack this protection. Even for good purposes. How will this affect the reputation of the company Tim Cook?
What do hackers promise?
“The first-of-its-kind service is offered exclusively for users who have forgotten the password from their devices, blocked them after several incorrect attempts to enter the password, as well as for those who need to access data from the devices of deceased family members,” the press release said DriveSavers.
The company claims that other experts offer this service only to law enforcement. The DriveSavers service, on the contrary, is unavailable for law enforcement agencies and will not work at the behest of the police or the FBI. But it is quite accessible for ordinary users. Naturally, not poor.
In a comment to The Verge, the company's speaker wrote that hacking an iPhone or iPad costs $ 3,900. Depending on the situation, the service may request a death certificate, a will, court documents, etc.
In other words, the company says it has technology that can circumvent the data protection that Apple uses, but does not intend to use it for dishonest purposes.
DriveSavers does not disclose the details of its technology, but states that their “legal hacking” is successful in 100% of cases.
Responding to questions from the MacRumors edition, a representative of DriveSavers, among other things, said that “hacking” is safe for the device itself, in other words, the user who paid the company for unlocking the iPhone will receive the unlocked device back. In addition, data from the account can be copied to external media.
The buzz around Apple and the protection of personal data has not subsided for more than two years.
In March 2016, Apple challenged the US government by denying security services access to their users' personal data. The FBI, and then other official bodies, could not get Apple access to private data contained in the iPhone 5C Sayed Farouk, known as the "shooter from Bernardino".
The FBI claimed that the iPhone of the deceased terrorist contained photos and correspondence that may help to detain other members of its radical terrorist cell.
The terrorist's smartphone was blocked using a security code (a standard security measure on the iPhone before the appearance of fingerprint scanners and face recognition). Actually, the FBI did not even ask for access to the terrorist’s data, but only required Apple to remove the restriction on the number of input attempts. So that the smartphone does not block after 10 unsuccessful attempts.
However, Tim Cook refused to meet the FBI, stating that the company could not give the FBI a powerful weapon in cracking the iPhone.
He did not change his position even after the FBI took over the Supreme Court, not to mention the public condemnation of the US President Donald Trump.
Independent experts welcomed the decision of the IT giant and even predicted the fall of the United States from the pedestal of the world technological and military leader. It was done, they said, democracy had triumphed so much that the state leading the war for the defense of democracy had become its hostage.
Apple assured that it is always ready to meet law enforcement agencies, and by decision of the court transfers all available data. However, this is not always enough. Indeed, due to the use of end-to-end encryption, in many cases the company itself does not have access to user data.
In the end, the FBI was able to get data from the terrorist’s smartphone thanks to a collaboration with an Israeli computer security company. According to rumors, the FBI paid the Israelis $ 1 million for hacking the terrorist’s phone.
A few months ago, it became known that the US security services and police of several states were buying special devices for hacking the iPhone – GreyKey.
In the investigation of the publication Motherboard indicated that the development of this device was a former engineer Apple.
GreyKey is a box of 10×10 cm with two Lightning cables, and its cost depends on the duration of work: $ 15 thousand are asked for a device that requires an internet connection and can unlock up to 300 iPhones, and $ 30 thousand is a model that works offline with an unlimited number hacks
It is reported that GreyKey can open the iPhone from two hours to several days if the password to unlock has more than 6 characters.
According to the police, access to call history, contacts, messages and media files is necessary, because now most of the crimes are committed through electronic devices.
Apple reacted quite quickly to the news about GreyKey and added a limited USB connection protection mode to iOS 11.4.1.
The function should block unauthorized connection to the iPhone via the Lightning port. The external connector blocks any connection and data transfer an hour after the phone is locked.
USB restriction mode can be found in the latest iOS versions in Settings> Face ID (Touch ID) and Passwords> USB Accessories.
Roughly speaking, Apple gives you the opportunity to make sure that your iPhone (or iPad) can not be hacked, if law enforcement agencies (or intruders, as lucky) did not have access to your device in the first hour after you stopped them to enjoy.
Why is it important?
The network was skeptical of the statements of DriveSavers, because Apple has established itself as a company with an extremely high level of protection of personal data of users.
However, what if the "white hackers" really have the technical capabilities to unlock the iPhone and get access to user data?
Apple CEO Tim Cook has often said that privacy is a basic human right and the company will not allow anyone to enter into the privacy of their customers.
From some point of view, the cost of the service of hacking from DriveSavers, which is several times higher than the price of Apple gadgets, is quite logical, because the company questions the reliability of the most expensive brand in the world.
Can the emergence of such a service affect the global reputation of Apple as a manufacturer of smartphones that can be trusted as its accountant? Probably yes, some experts say.
This may be the reason for a new round of discussions about the security of alternative solutions, for example, Knox from Samsung, which has not yet been compromised.
It is also not clear what will happen if the assistance of DriveSavers in some of the next terrorist’s smartphone case requires the FBI. Or, the government of any country will ask for an “open” iPhone, for example, a human rights activist or an opposition leader.
The fact of having such a solution may indicate that it (or some equivalent) can be used by other companies, whose hacking policy may not be as decent as DriveSavers.
Apple has not yet commented on the news. It is not yet clear whether the security hole found by DriveSavers employees can be closed the next time iOS is updated.
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