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Police Told Not To Look At iPhone Screens

OCTOBER 15, 2018 – MIKE WOOLSEY

There has been a recent rise in the need for law enforcement to gain access to Apple devices, particularly the iPhone. As of late, Apple has been approached by the courts to order access to these devices, but Apple promptly declined to do so, in order to protect its companies’ image as the #1 secured device on the market. Apple believes a person’s data or information stored on a device should remain private, and has since added new security features to devices to stomp out access.

iPhone has always been known for its security, with features like a passcode, two-step verification, three-step verification, fingerprint reader and most recently, facial recognition in addition to the other previously mentioned security features. With all these stronghold features, Elcomsoft has one more piece of advice for law enforcement…” Stop looking at the iPhone screen.” 

Law enforcement has been trying to find ways into an iPhone without court order, or just in general to aid in their investigations of owners of the devices. However, there is a lot more to it, by looking at the iPhone screen to try and gain access to the device, police are using one of 5 attempts overall to gain access to the device. By using up these attempts, what happens is, eventually this will generate a passcode lock on the device, locking the device down until the owner puts the passcode in. It’s kind of a game of cat and mouse.

As Motherboard reports, “that’s the advice being given to US law enforcement by forensics company Elcomsoft. Slides obtained and since verified as real by Elcomsoft explain how looking at the screen of an iPhone, for example, is ill-advised when the phone is handled. Motherboard also points out that a passcode can be considered as “Testimonial Evidence” and therefore is protected, but the same is not true of fingerprints or faces. At least, it isn’t yet. The law will eventually catch up with the technology and better protect the individual. However, a warrant can still compel a suspect to unlock a device.”

The game of cat and mouse continues, yet at what point does the law win overall? As mentioned above, a passcode can be considered “Testimonial Evidence” it’s harder to extract from a suspect. Too, as I have worked for Apple, the amount of people out there that have forgotten their passcode to unlock their device, once it has been passcode locked is kind of alarming. In this case when it comes to evidence, there is a process that takes place once a device has been passcode locked and the passcode has been forgotten. The process is verifying three security answers to account questions, in addition to having proof of purchase of the device. Once Apple has obtained the proof of purchase and the security questions are answered properly, only then does the SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) allow a device to be unlocked.

Maybe the advice is sound… “Stop looking at the iPhone screen!” I personally am for the security of the iPhone, too I can‘t help but get a chuckle when the question in court or by authorities comes up…

What is the passcode to your device?

I don’t recall…

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