October 19, 2013
Quakslab, a presenter at the Hack in the Box conference (HBC) published a white paper that showed the iMessage feature has some major security flaws with Apple’s encryption codes which leaves the message vulnerable to being seen by the corporation itself or a directed 3rd party.
Quarkslab states: “As Apple claims, there is end-to-end encryption. The weakness is in the key infrastructure as it is controlled by Apple: They can change a key anytime they want, thus read the content of our iMessages.”
At the HBC, presenters showed a simple man-in-the-middle attack could lead to interception of iMessages.
Using this technique, the message can even be altered by the 3rd party before it arrives to the recipient. And no one will know that this occurred.
This stream and interception is easily preformed, as evidenced by this demonstration.
To maintain Apple’s reputation, Trudy Miller, spokesperson for Apple, said: “iMessage is not architected to allow Apple to read messages. The research discussed theoretical vulnerabilities that would require Apple to re-engineer the iMessage system to exploit it, and Apple has no plans or intentions to do so.”
Several months ago, Apple asserted that iMessages “are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and receiver can see or read them” and “Apple cannot decrypt that data.”
Quarkslab maintains : “Apple’s claim that they can’t read end-to-end encrypted iMessage[s] is definitely not true. As everyone suspected: yes they can!”
They added: “Basically, nearly all current Apple products: iMac, Mac Pro, MacBook Pro, MacBook Pro Retina, iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad. We will release a tweak for jailbroken iOS devices and an application for OS X just after the presentation.”
The NSA according to whistleblower Edward Snowden, has been analyzing social media sites to connect Americans to other persons through friends in their networks.
This “policy” was devised to “’discover and track’ connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States.”
A memorandum provided by Snowden reveals that they conducted “’large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness’ of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier.”
Profile information is comprised of:
• Public data
• Retail behaviors
• Banking transactions
• Insurance information
• Facebook profile(s)
• Travel manifests
• Voter registration
• GPS location data
• Property records
• Tax information from IRS
The NSA did not indicate that all persons being tracked were identified as having been involved in illegal activity. In the documents, it is clear that the “contact chain” created by the NSA through profiling data was aimed at tying any person to any organization through separation degrees or by direct contact.
The NSA is empowered by the 2001 US Patriot Act , Sec. 215 (50 U.S.C. § 1861), that states the federal government can collect data on Americans if there is a claim of national security compromise.
Metadata was syphoned under this clause for nearly a decade (that we know of).
That innocuous metadata that the NSA has been collecting includes trunk identifiers which are used to gather the metadata.
In fact, when hacking into a call, a trunk identifier can be used to not only gather information about the call, but to listen in on the conversation from both the caller and receiver.
Trunking is the way that the police can change their signal when on the radio every few seconds so that it cannot be syphoned by hackers. It is used by cell phone towers to encrypt the signal for a secure line.
Trunking follows the sender and receiver when they change channels so that GPS-like surveillance is conducted.
This allows the surveillance apparatus to have a continues stream regardless of when the channel changes every few seconds, which in turn allow those listening in to have a steady signal without breaks. Effectively, they can listen to the entire conversation and follow the signal as it changes.
Russ Tice, former NSA intelligence analyst turned whistleblower has recently revealed that the BUNSC is currently operational amid claims by the NSA to the contrary.
Tice remarked that “the recent NSA scandal only scratches the surface of a massive surveillance apparatus.”
The BUNSC will be able to store either yotabytes or zetabytes of information (depending on which MSM outlet is quoted) which would necessitate 10,000 racks of servers, assuming that one rack is 10 square feet.
Under this estimation, the BUNSC could actually contain exabytes of information. This is an unprecedented amount of data. However, attention on this one facility has over-shadowed the fact that the NSA has other locations of storage space in Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii and Texas – including as well Australia and Britain.