More proof that iPhone backdoors are a stupid idea: Massive cache of law enforcement personnel data leaks

“A data breach at a federally funded active shooter training center has exposed the personal data of thousands of US law enforcement officials, ZDNet has learned,” Zack Whittaker reports for ZDNet. “The cache of data contained identifiable information on local and state police officers, and federal agents, who sought out or underwent active shooter response training in the past few years. The backend database powers the website of Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training — known as ALERRT — at Texas State University.”

“The database dates back to April 2017 and was uploaded a year later to a web server, believed to be owned by the organization, with no password protection,” Whittaker reports. “ZDNet obtained a copy of the database, which was first found by a New Zealand-based data breach hunter, who goes by the pseudonym Flash Gordon.”

“‘In the wrong hands this data could be detrimental or even deadly for the first responders who put their lives on the line every day,’ said John Wethington, a security researcher, who reviewed a portion of the data for ZDNet,” Whittaker reports. “The database contained thousands of personal data records, including law enforcement officer’s work contact information, with many of the records listing personal email addresses, work addresses, and cell numbers. Officials from the FBI, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and the US Border Patrol were listed in the database. In another table, some 65,000 officers who had taken an ALERRT course and provided feedback had their full name and zip code exposed.”

Read more in the full article here.

In a related article, Whittaker reports that U.S. Homeland Security served Twitter with a subpoena, demanding the account information of the data breach finder, Flash Gordon.

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: More proof that iPhone backdoors are a stupid idea.

Again, encryption is binary; it’s either on or off. You cannot have both. You either have privacy via full encryption or you don’t by forcing back doors upon Apple or anybody else. It’s all or nothing. — MacDailyNews, March 8, 2017

There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a backdoor in, that backdoor’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

This is not about this phone. This is about the future. And so I do see it as a precedent that should not be done in this country or in any country. This is about civil liberties and is about people’s abilities to protect themselves. If we take encryption away… the only people that would be affected are the good people, not the bad people. Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption is readily available in every country in the world, as a matter of fact, the U.S. government sponsors and funs encryption in many cases. And so, if we limit it in some way, the people that we’ll hurt are the good people, not the bad people; they will find it anyway. — Apple CEO Tim Cook, February 2016

Bipartisan ‘Secure Data Act’ would make it illegal for U.S. government to demand backdoors – May 11, 2018
Bill Gates thinks Apple should unlock iPhones at the government’s request – February 13, 2018
FBI Director Wray calls inability to access electronic devices an ‘urgent public safety issue’ – January 9, 2018
Tim Cook’s refusal to create iPhone backdoor for FBI vindicated by ‘WannaCry’ ransomware attack on Windows PCs – May 15, 2017
The Microsoft Tax: Leaked NSA malware hijacks Windows PCs worldwide; Macintosh unaffected – May 13, 2017
Bungling Microsoft singlehandedly proves that ‘back doors’ are a stupid idea – August 10, 2016
U.S. Congressman Ted Lieu says strong encryption without backdoors is a ‘national security priority’ – April 29, 2016
iPhone backdoors would pose a threat, French privacy chief warns – April 8, 2016
The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time – March 14, 2016
Obama pushes for iPhone back door; Congressman Issa blasts Obama’s ‘fundamental lack of understanding’ – March 12, 2016
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch backs U.S. government overreach on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert – March 11, 2016
Former CIA Director: FBI wants to dictate iPhone’s operating system – March 11, 2016
FBI warns it could demand Apple’s iPhone code and secret electronic signature – March 10, 2016
California Democrat Diane Feinstein backs U.S. government overreach over Apple – March 10, 2016
Snowden: U.S. government’s claim it can’t unlock San Bernardino iPhone is ‘bullshit’ – March 10, 2016
Apple could easily lock rights-trampling governments out of future iPhones – February 20, 2016
Apple CEO Tim Cook lashes out at Obama administration over encryption, bemoans White House lack of leadership – January 13, 2016
Obama administration demands master encryption keys from firms in order to conduct electronic surveillance against Internet users – July 24, 2013<


  1. More proof that a backdoor for any digital device is a stupid idea.

    I have the notion, however, that those who advocate for such backdoors have the idea that they are somehow going to be exempt from them.

    1. You give them a tremendous and undeserved compliment by implying that they have an “idea,” when in fact the very concept of ideas is foreign to them.

    2. I have a bit of a conundrum and I’m hoping MDN will allow me a pass on using MDN to find help.

      Does anyone know of any Mac centric sites with forums where Mac users can seek help from forum members? Many of the sites I used to frequent appear to not be around anymore or those that do no longer have forums.

      Something has popped up on the Mini my wife uses that I’ve never seen before. A dialog box asking if the user wants to shut down the Mac. With a Restart, Sleep, Cancel and a default highlighted Shut Down button, it doesn’t look like a typical Apple shutdown dialog.

      We always hit Cancel, but it will pop up again within a few moments and continue reappearing several times. Also, it does appear to only pop up in Safari.

      One other thing, when we hit the Cancel button and the box disappears, the TV screen goes black for a few moments saying its lost the signal.

      Online searches turn up nothing.

        1. Doh! Cue gigantic face palm…

          Thanks! Don’t know what I was thinking. Guess I wasn’t.

          I can only put it off to the fact that for years I was so used to going to those (now non-existent) Mac-centric sites that I forgot I could go to Apple. Back in those days Apple wasn’t my first go-to place when it came to finding a quick solution to a Mac/OS problem.

  2. Great take MDN that is why back doors on Apple devices for Apple’s home nation are so appropriate. It come right from the top.

    “Because we are so stupid.”
    Donald Trump

      1. The original headlines of the articles are “A massive cache of law enforcement personnel data has leaked” and “Homeland Security subpoenas Twitter for data breach finder’s account”.

        MDN is the one that added stupid to their headling.
        MDN is the one that added stupid to their MDN take.
        It’s the president of Apple’s home nation that made the comment about stupidity.

        I’m simply agreeing with those statements, out of sadness and pity for a once great civilized nation, not the emotion you try to assign to me again and again.

        1. simply simpleton out of sadness and pity for you we are a great civilized nation nothing you obsess and post over and over will not change a thing please get a life

        2. If you believe that great civilized nations torture and invade other nations on a whim you should consider not only getting a life but to stop removing lives from others.

          That’s just a suggestion, far be it for me to be as arrogant as to tell you what you should do. Do what you wish, it’s your free will.

          Now that I’ve dispensed with the ad hominem attack and the off topic remarks I’ll address your comments on the issue at hand. Oh wait you did not make any, typical for someone from Apple’s home nation.

        3. Now that I’ve dispensed with the ad hominem attack and the off topic remarks

          you have dispensed nothing and don’t recognize your own folly mr. double standard. your repeated ad hominem attacks on my nation and my president are the topic. you can be self righteous all you want and refuse to acknowledge your own folly which is so typical

        4. Warrior, I agree with GoeB. How dare you think you have any right to criticize the petulant, traitorous, sliding into senility man-baby!

        5. Gee John, I was agreeing with MDN’s take on it. I guess some people are so obsessed with attacking me, they forgo any guidance from MDN “if you’re an off-topic poster or just issuing ad hominem attacks, you will be moderated and your posts will be removed. If you continue, you will be banned and your screen name will become unusable, so you’ll be forfeiting your identity, too.” to the point where they will actually believe they are above this recommendation and believe that an ad hominem attack is possible on an entire nation when by definition ad hominem attack is a personal attack (Latin for “to the man” or “to the person”).

          So I’m not attacking any one person in particular and I’m agreeing with MDN’s take on the topic at hand, that iPhone backdoors are a stupid idea and stupid is as stupid does. I do hope that the cache leaks doesn’t lead to any serious trouble for anyone but the odds are that it could.

        6. Your consistent mime tone deaf is “ad hominem attacks” on over 300 million people in the USA. But in addition to being tone deaf and clueless and arrogant self righteous, because all you care about is yourself and your feelings, as well as sucking up to fellow leftists and throwing a WHINING PARTY.

          “They won’t stop, so we won’t stop.”
          Jack Kehoe (Sean Connery), Molly Maguires, 1968

  3. “…reports that U.S. Homeland Security served Twitter with a subpoena, demanding the account information of the data breach finder, Flash Gordon.”
    Gee thanks for the breach heads up, but we’re going to shoot the messenger anyway!
    Yeah, that really helps.

  4. If the government gets its way and has back doors in iPhones and computers, it is going to force a wholesale set of new separate SSD storage devices which are separate from the iPhones and Macs which will hold all data.

    That would be a pain.

    1. Why would owning your own data be a pain? Setting up a home server is easier than ever. You don’t need to rent anybody’s stupid insecure cloud and blindly trust their claims of security.

      1. There are multiple ways to lose data and the “Cloud Storage” is only one of them.

        The Feds want to backdoor your phone and maybe your computer, too.

  5. Regardless of what side one is on the 4th Amendment, considering the sensitive information it pertains to the people of law enforcement, there was no password protection or no security in place whatsoever? Whoever was in charge – nice one dumb@$$!

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