Apple’s iPhone has passed a key security threshold

“In its efforts to make its devices more secure, Apple has crossed a significant threshold. Technologies the company has adopted protect Apple customers’ content so well that in many situations it’s impossible for law enforcement to perform forensic examinations of devices seized from criminals,” Simson Garfinkel reports for Technology Review. “Most significant is the increasing use of encryption, which is beginning to cause problems for law enforcement agencies when they encounter systems with encrypted drives.”

“”I can tell you from the Department of Justice perspective, if that drive is encrypted, you’re done,” Ovie Carroll, director of the cyber-crime lab at the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section in the Department of Justice, said during his keynote address at the DFRWS computer forensics conference in Washington, D.C., last Monday,” Garfinkel reports. “‘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,’ [Carroll said.]”

Garfinkel reports, “At the heart of Apple’s security architecture is the Advanced Encryption Standard algorithm (AES), a data-scrambling system published in 1998 and adopted as a U.S. government standard in 2001. After more than a decade of exhaustive analysis, AES is widely regarded as unbreakable. The algorithm is so strong that no computer imaginable for the foreseeable future—even a quantum computer—would be able to crack a truly random 256-bit AES key. The National Security Agency has approved AES-256 for storing top-secret data.”

Much more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. “The National Security Agency has approved AES-256 for storing top-secret data.”

    Top Secret data is also routinely stored on paper — with no encryption!

    1. obviously you are not considering the bureaucratic language style which encrypts things so well that even the original author cannot figure out what was written.

    2. But those papers are stored in secured locations. Did you think they printed top secret documents in invisible ink or some sort of super cypher?
      You apple haters are either desperate or clueless. (or both)

      1. Tessellator, YOU are effing clueless.

        I’ve been a user on Macs, iPods, iPhones and iPads since their respective launches. If you want to see if I’m an Apple hater, why don’t you read my other posts here on MDN. One you get through 10 years worth of my opinions you should have enough to make up your mind.

        1. Oh that wasn’t en effort to minimize the iPhone’s passing a key top secret security threshold.
          Oh I see…
          You trolls, hanging out on a site who’s products you hate, posting nonsense are the ones with clue?

          Gee thanks, “disposableidentity” for clearing that up for me.

          1. “Oh that wasn’t en effort to minimize the iPhone’s passing a key top secret security threshold.”

            That’s right. It wasn’t.

            I thought it was funny. I thought people would see the irony that any medium can be used to STORE Top Secret information (provided safeguards are taken with access and transportation/transmission).

            1. Sure it was. I believe you. Really… Im not kidding.

              You do get that (99% of the time) the only people who talk about how many and how long they have had and used Apple products are the trolls don’t you?

              At best it was a stupid statement, top secret (printed) documents ARE secured by locking them up and making unauthorized access nearly impossible. The same is required of portable electronics, that unauthorized access is nearly impossible. It is an achievement for IOS to be declared to have virtually unbreakable security.
              A BEST yours was a stupid dismissive statement, however I think it more likely a troll.

            2. Tessellator,

              I’m not sure what bug bit you today, but I can’t understand how can you be so off regarding disposable‘s statement.

              What he said (and what most of us easily understood) was:

              Here we have an iPhone that has unbreakable cypher that cannot be decoded; meanwhile, highly confidential data is STILL being put on paper (no cypher, no encryption, nothing).

              Now, obviously (to me, and likely, most others here), this was a joke; you don’t have to be a genius to know that when paper is used to “store” confidential information, it is handled in a special way (restricted physical access, locks, safes, etc). This was clearly a very light-hearted joke, which, for some reason, you didn’t get.

              And lastly, knowing disposableidentity from this forum for many years, I can tell you that he can be many things, but anti-Apple “hater” or “troll” he certainly ain’t.

        1. Oh don’t worry your buddy “disposableidentity” has already explained how it wasn’t actually an effort to minimize the iPhone’s passing a key top secret security threshold, it just looked like one.

          You can reset your fellow troll defense alert back to DEFCON 5

  2. I heard a great analogy for AES the other day:

    Saying AES is like saying curry. There are many different kinds.

    There are multiple possible modes of AES and there are literally thousands of possible hash implementations consistent with the standard.

    Just because the NSA has approved the use of one specific implementation of AES for one specific use with regard to Top Secret information does not mean the NSA has approved all possible implementations or that they have approved even one implementation for all uses with regard to TS material — they have done neither.

    Additionally, no one — literally no one — in the cryptanalysis world thinks AES in unbreakable. Those that make that claim are 100% clueless and don’t operate in the real world.

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