FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Apple’s iPhone: the Backdoor Is Already There

shutterstock_217604671 (1)

The media is erupting over the FBI’s demand that Apple help it decrypt an iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, one of the attackers involved in the assault in San Bernardino this past December. Originally Apple wanted the FBI to keep things on the down low, asking the Feds to present their application for access under seal. But for whatever reason the FBI decided to go public. Apple then put on a big show of resistance and now there are legislators threatening to change the law in favor of the FBI. Yet concealed amid this unfolding drama is a vital fact that very few outlets are paying attention to.

Tim Cook protests that Apple is being asked to create “a new version of the iPhone operating system.” This glib talking point distracts attention from the reality that there’s essentially a backdoor on every new iPhone that ships around the world: the ability to load and execute modified firmware without user intervention.

Ostensibly software patches were intended to fix bugs. But they can just as easily install code that compromises sensitive data. I repeat: without user intervention. Apple isn’t alone in this regard. Has anyone noticed that the auto-update feature deployed with certain versions of Windows 10 is impossible to turn off using existing user controls?

Update features, it would seem, are a bullseye for spies. And rightly so because they represent a novel way to quietly execute malicious software. This past September the Washington Post published a leaked memo from the White House which proposed that intelligence agencies leverage “provider-enabled remote access to encrypted devices through current update procedures.” Yep, the same update procedures that are marketed as helping to keep users safe. And it would appear that the spies are making progress. There’s news from Bloomberg of a secret memo that tasked spymasters with estimating the budgetary requirements needed to develop “encryption workarounds.”

And, finally, please notice throughout this whole ordeal how the Director of the NSA, unlike the vociferous FBI director, has been relatively silent. With a budget on the order of $10 billion at its disposal the NSA almost certainly has something equivalent to what the courts have asked Apple to create. The NSA probably doesn’t want to give its bypass tool to the FBI and blow its operational advantage. After all, the NSA is well versed in the art of firmware-level manipulation. Experts have opined that for a few million (a drop in the bucket for a spy outfit like the NSA or CIA) this capability could be implemented. NSA whistleblower William Binney tends to agree. When asked what users could do to protect themselves from the Deep State’s prying eyes Binney replied:

“Use smoke signals! With NSA’s budget of over $10bill a year, they have more resources to acquire your data than you can ever hope to defend against.

This has to be addressed in law and legislation. Call your local governmental representative and complain, otherwise, if you sit and do nothing… you are fucked!!!”

So while Apple manufactures the perception that it’s fighting for user privacy, keep in mind that the media’s Manichean narrative of “good vs. evil” doesn’t necessarily explain what’s transpiring. Despite cheerleading by Ed Snowden and others Apple is not the company that it would have us believe it is. Apple has a long history of helping the government crack iPhones and security researchers have already unearthed any number of hidden services lurking below the iPhones surface.

The public record over the past several decades informs that ersatz public opposition often conceals private collusion. And Apple, dear reader, is no stranger when it comes to clandestine government programs. The sad truth is that government spies and corporate data hoarders assemble in the corridors of the American Deep State protected by a veil of official secrecy and sophisticated propaganda.

More articles by:

Bill Blunden is a journalist whose current areas of inquiry include information security, anti-forensics, and institutional analysis. He is the author of several books, including “The Rootkit Arsenal” andBehold a Pale Farce: Cyberwar, Threat Inflation, and the Malware-Industrial Complex.” Bill is the lead investigator at Below Gotham Labs and a member of the California State University Employees Union, Chapter 305.

November 12, 2018
Kerron Ó Luain
Poppy Fascism and the English Education System
Conn Hallinan
Nuclear Treaties: Unwrapping Armageddon
Robert Hunziker
Tropical Trump Declares War on Amazonia
John W. Whitehead
Badge of Shame: the Government’s War on Military Veterans
Will Griffin
Military “Service” Serves the Ruling Class
John Eskow
Harold Pinter’s America: Hard Truths and Easy Targets
Rob Okun
Activists Looking Beyond Midterm Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Mid-Term Divisions: The Trump Take
Dean Baker
Short-Term Health Insurance Plans Destroy Insurance Pools
George Wuerthner
Saving the Buffalohorn/Porcupine: the Lamar Valley of the Gallatin Range
Patrick Howlett-Martin
A Note on the Paris Peace Forum
Joseph G. Ramsey
Does America Have a “Gun Problem”…Or a White Supremacy Capitalist Empire Problem?
Weekend Edition
November 09, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Why Democrats Are So Okay With Losing
Andrew Levine
What Now?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Chuck and Nancy’s House of Cards
Brian Cloughley
The Malevolent Hypocrisy of Selective Sanctions
Marc Levy
Welcome, Class of ‘70
David Archuleta Jr.
Facebook Allows Governments to Decide What to Censor
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Zika Scare: a Political and Commercial Maneuver of the Chemical Poisons Industry
Nick Pemberton
When It Comes To Stone Throwing, Democrats Live In A Glass House
Ron Jacobs
Impeach!
Lawrence Davidson
A Tale of Two Massacres
José Tirado
A World Off Balance
Jonah Raskin
Something Has Gone Very Wrong: An Interview With Ecuadoran Author Gabriela Alemán
J.P. Linstroth
Myths on Race and Invasion of the ‘Caravan Horde’
Dean Baker
Good News, the Stock Market is Plunging: Thoughts on Wealth
David Rosen
It’s Time to Decriminalize Sex Work
Dan Glazebrook
US Calls for a Yemen Ceasefire is a Cynical Piece of Political Theatre
Jérôme Duval
Forced Marriage Between Argentina and the IMF Turns into a Fiasco
Jill Richardson
Getting Past Gingrich
Dave Lindorff
Not a Blue Wave, But Perhaps a Foreshock
Martha Rosenberg
Dangerous, Expensive Drugs Aggressively Pushed? You Have These Medical Conflicts of Interest to Thank
Will Solomon
Not Much of a Wave
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Yemeni War Deaths are Five Times Higher Than You’ve Been Led to Believe
Jim Goodman
We call BS! Now, Will You Please Get Over This Partisanship?
Josh Hoxie
How Aristocracies are Born
Faisal Khan
The Weaponization of Social Media
James Munson
The Left Has Better Things to Do Than Watch Liberals Scratch Their Heads
Kenneth Culton
The Political Is Personal
Graham Peebles
Fracking in the UK
Alycee Lane
The Colonial Logic of Geoengineering’s “Last Resort”
Kevin Basl
How Veterans Changed the Military and Rebuilt the Middle Class
Thomas Knapp
Election 2018: The More Things Don’t Change, the More They Stay the Same
Gary Leupp
Europe and Secondary Iran Sanctions: Where Do We Go Now?
Saurav Sarkar
An Honest Look at Poverty in the Heartland
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail