22
Oct 13

Apple’s evil plot to invade our privacy

Last week a company named QuarksLab made news with its revelation that iMessage isn’t as secure as Apple claims.

It claims that although iMessage features “end-to-end encryption,” it is technically feasible for Apple to view messages if it ever wanted to.

Of course, this story radiated across the internet as quickly as any Apple-damaging story would. To the point where NBC News decided it was legitimate news.

Shocker: this isn’t a story at all.

First, take a look at who QuarksLab is. As it describes itself in paragraph one on its home page: “QUARKSLAB is a research company specialized in cutting edge solutions to complex security problems. We provide innovative, efficient and practical solutions based on profound knowledge and years of experience in the field.”

This is a phenomenon we’ve seen countless times over the years: Technology security company drums up new business by using its “profound knowledge” to expose Apple security flaw. I’ve yet to see any of these flaws amount to anything.

Second, what QuarksLab has “exposed” through its in-depth research is what every human being should instinctively know. Your personal information is accessible by the people or companies you give it to.

Your credit card company maintains records of every purchase. Your phone company holds records of every call. Your doctor has files you’d want no one to see, as does your attorney. Somebody owns the servers that hold your most intimate email.

The bottom line is, whoever holds your data has the power to retrieve it. There is a thing in this world called “trust.” It’s not something we give out lightly, but it is something we give out — on a daily basis.

It’s up to each of us to do business with the companies most likely to value our trust and continue earning it.

Yes, Apple could peer into our iMessages if it was determined to do so. It also keeps our credit card information on file. We hold Apple responsible for these things, and so far it’s done pretty darn well.

Is Apple infallible? Nope. Is it possible that Apple will one day yield our information to government investigators who come armed with warrants, or lose it to evildoers? Of course it is.

But again, we choose to do business with companies we trust. We associate with companies that share our values. And I’ve yet to see anything from Apple that indicates my data is in jeopardy. Quite the opposite. Its behavior and public statements indicate that it places the highest value on data integrity.

But beware: QuarksLab wants you to know that it’s possible for Apple to turn evil if it wanted to.

Can’t argue that. Then again, your best friend might sell you down the river one day too. Best to end that relationship now, before things get ugly.

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  • SuperMatt

    Actually, with the current implementation, Apple cannot look at your messages. The researchers said in a system like Apple’s, the messages could be looked at. It has uncovered no evidence that it can be done with the currently set-up system, and Apple says it does not have the capability. Basically, the setup allows for this to be implemented, but Apple would have to shut down and recreate the system to put in such a “backdoor” and it’s not in the current implementation.

  • dr.no

    It doesn’t matter what Apple says as long
    as Government can demand private encryption keys
    and also put Apple in gag order.
    Just like when original Snowden revelations were
    out. Apple and the rest gave a generic press release
    which was deemed to be false.

    Whether it is architect to spy or Apple’s wish not to spy is
    irrelevant.

  • Chris

    The problem I see with your position is that Apple explicitely claims security which it can not provide in the end. From the Apple “Commitment to Customer Privacy” page: “[iMessages]
    are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender and
    receiver can see or read them. Apple cannot decrypt that data.”

    So Apple claims I don’t actually give them my data when I send my iMessages. That is the difference I see to Facebook, where it’s absolutely clear that all my content ends up stored on their servers and is accessible to various agencies. Apple tries to give its users a warm fuzzy security feeling while actually leaving them vulnerable.

    The story made the splash it did is because of Apple’s deliberate lying in its privacy statement and preferring to give users a false sense of security instead of bothering them with the slightly more complex truth. So a more realistic statement might be “[iMessages] are protected by end-to-end encryption so no one but the sender, receiver, the NSA and potentially Apple can see or read them”.

    One further point is that Apple knew about this beforehand. They made a deliberate decision when building iMessages. It was designed to be this way, built to be secure against average hackers but not against Apple itself or government agencies (that can use the other attack vectors outlined in the Quarklabs presentation). Food for thought.

  • Yosef ben Israel

    Nice paper, so true. I like particularly this sentence “There is a thing in this world called “trust.” It’s not something we give out lightly, but it is something we give out — on a daily basis.”

  • Nameless Coward

    No warrents needed due to that similar like Reichstag event on 911 where Adolf Hitler set it on fire himself blaming the opposition and you the muslims. Weird how that turned out where not just towers fell in a way they should not have but also like dominos youve lost your freedoms progressively. Weird in how quite the opposite happend where a threat to you is made and then the government actually goes through with the threat taking away liberty freedom and privacy. So who stood to gain here.

    I like Apples. But truth be told they could pay the workers a good wage if theyd raise the prise of say an iPhone 20 bucks, or take .5 percent less profit. But isnted of lsitening, no they are bulding and army of robots…

  • Nameless Coward

    On record the NSA developed all mayor encryption tech or had a huge hand in them. On record they build in back doors.

    Echalon and Carnivore have on large scale been data mining world wide sinds the 90s. It even came out that under Clinton the USA used this system to favor their top lobbyist companys for unfair trade and business advantages. That is what we inow of.

    AT&T and other are all subsidiaries of the CIA. Even Facebook mentiond it for a while they were on their sites footer. Just like Google, Apple was founded with money form clandestine intelligence agencies. Look it up.

    Do not be naive. The best and most brightest Nazis under project paperclip were brought tothe USA after the war. Thats why your daddy of the space program was named Werner von Braun. And thats just one.

    They learned to talk with npr voices act liberal and not scare you like the well dressed Hugo Boss Nazis

  • Nameless Coward

    One more thing.. Trust no one!

  • yet another steve

    This story was a great disservice to users.
    It was based on what Apple could do–engineering wise–in the future. That is, Apple could rearchitect iMessage. Doh.

    But people are going to takeaway that Apple, google, all the same. In fact, Apple has deliberately architected iMessage so it can’t read the messages. There is no key that would allow the NSA to do so. It would have to be re-engineered. While a court can order existing information to be turned over (anything), I’m not aware of any legal device that would force Apple to spend millions to re-architect, code and test a system so that the NSA or law enforcement can read the messages. We’re not there yet.

    Information has to exist to be subpoenaed. Apple has architected its systems, where possible, to NOT store the information in the first place.

    Contrast with google who’s whole business model is based on being able to scan that information. Which means it exists, and can be requested/required by the government.

    The whole premise of this report is “Apple could change its mind and change its software.” But look at all the commenters who think there’s a magic key that would unlock it. The point is that there isn’t. There’s nothing for the government to request.

    Great for google to blur these very fundamentally opposite levels of privacy.

    See daringfireball.com for what Gruber has been told secretly from Apple people: they’re instructed to, whenever possible, make sure there’s nothing for the government to request.

    Sure Apple could change this. But why would they? They make money selling devices, not creeping on us. They have the most loyal customers in the world and the #1 brand. And they’re not stupid.

  • Nameless Coward

    The Plot Thickens..

    Link to patent:

    http://appft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.html&r=13&p=1&f=G&l=50&d=PG01&S1=(382%2F103.CCLS.+AND+20131024.PD.)&OS=ccl/382/103+and+pd/10/24/2013&RS=(CCL/382/103+AND+PD/20131024)

    Excerpt:

    For example, a user may … play an adult-rated movie, halt playing of the movie when a child walks in the room, and perform many other actions using the device depending on the circumstances. .. ..

    Thus Apple will become a peeping Tom like Google and the USA Gov. It’s all for your own safety and good of course. It’s liberal.

    All these machine will more and more decide what’s good for us. Especially if it’s liberal.

    You weren’t sick at home, NO you were at the beach!! (getting fresh air to heal) CAR will now drive you to the Police station. Afterwards NEST detects an invalid ID and will not let you into your home.

    Minority Report is real. It will come. For those in the know it is called predictive programming so as to acclimatise us for what is coming. We think it is all natural progression and humane a la Apple like. Film is the best advertising tool. Most Holy Wood flicks the days use predictive programming.

    You see these first movies about robots taking over our lives were meant to be laughed at. Jokes, laughter and joy are the best way to transform an audience without them knowing what it does. Take an average Democrat. They lololol and thus yee are wrong. Lololol

    Apple will become the Orwellian 1984 machine. Marks my words. They will be killer.

    Disclaimer: I am surrounded by all Apple electronics. If Apple does it. I have it.

  • Dan

    I hope Ken will post about the keynote and the new iPad Air. I look forward to a review of the ad and the name.

  • Dan

    I also want to hear what Ken thinks about all these recruitments. The recruitment of Burberry’s CEO and Tesla’s recruitment of Doug Field. Also, I wonder what Ken’s opinion of Tesla is.

  • ksegall

    Angela Ahrendts appears to be a very good hire, as her values match up well with Apple’s. After the Browett error, it’s hard to imagine Tim Cook making another mistake in this area.

    I’m less up to speed on the Doug Field. His experience seems to mesh well with Tesla’s.

    Finding great talent is one of the most difficult things to do. It is what Steve Jobs thought was one of his most important jobs. Yet I once saw him hire someone he billed as “the smartest person I’ve ever hired” — and that person was gone within a year.

  • qka

    The first intelligent thing you posted here.