An FBI forensic expert has lashed out at Apple for making the bureau’s job more difficult by strengthening the cryptography standards on its products.
During yesterday’s International Conference on Cyber Security in New York, Stephen Flatley called the company’s security experts “jerks” for making it harder to crack the iPhone and track down criminals and terrorists and bemoaned the fact that “Apple is pretty good at evil genius stuff”.
“At what point is it just trying to one-up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?”, Flatley asked, according to Motherboard.
The FBI official pointed to the fact Apple had increased hash iterations from 10,000 to 100,000, drastically reducing the FBI’s attempts to crack passwords by brute force from 45 attempts per second to one attempt every 18 seconds.
“Your crack time just went from two days to two months,” Flatley said.
This is far from the first time Apple has clashed with the FBI. In 2016, the FBI turned to Apple to decrypt an iPhone 5c recovered from one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple famously refused, leading to a legal standoff that was only resolved when the FBI purchased technology from Cellebrite, an Israeli hacking company, to break into the phone.
“For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers’ personal data because we believe it’s the only way to keep their information safe,” Apple says. “We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business.”
Flatley’s comments came the day after FBI director Christopher Wray amped up rhetorical attacks on encryption standards for hindering his agency.
“In fiscal year 2017, we were unable to access the content of 7,775 devices—using appropriate and available technical tools—even though we had the legal authority to do so,” Wray said in a speech. “Each one of those nearly 7,800 devices is tied to a specific subject, a specific defendant, a specific victim, a specific threat.”