DEA claims encryption makes it impossible to intercept iMessages

By on April 4, 2013, 2:30 PM

An internal government document has revealed that encryption used in Apple’s iMessage chat service has prevented Drug Enforcement Administration officials from spying on suspects’ conversations. The document, seen by CNET, cites a February 2013 criminal investigation where officials said it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices regardless of service provider, even with a court order.

The DEA just recently became aware of the service despite the fact that iMessage launched in October 2011. According to the report, the task force noticed that not all text messages were being captured from data supplied by Verizon Wireless. It soon became evident that the suspect was using iMessage to communicate with some associates.

Apple’s iMessage, which sends messages over the Internet instead of as a traditional SMS, is the most popular encrypted chat program in history. As of last fall, the service had sent more than 300 billion messages. The free service prompted a number of wireless carriers to adjust their text messaging plans to make up for lost revenue.

Apple didn’t specifically design iMessage to circumvent government surveillance, according to senior policy analyst Christopher Soghoian from the American Civil Liberties Union. He said the government would need to perform what’s described as an active man-in-the-middle attack to intercept data. Soghoian goes on to say that the real issue is why phone companies in 2013 are still delivering unencrypted audio and text services to their users. “It’s disgraceful,” as he puts it.




User Comments: 14

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Guest said:

Probaly just saying this so more users will use it.

Lurker101 said:

Either this is a clever ruse, or this statement is really going to bite the DEA in the rump.

We all know that once you state that anything is unbreakable/unhackable/unintercepable/unanythingelseable, all you have to do is sit back and wait a few days for the inevitable slew of "I cracked/broked/hacked/intercepted it."s.

Guest said:

I think Skype also is also said to be another communication medium where its encryption can't be broken (supposedly)

JC713 JC713 said:

Probaly just saying this so more users will use it.

It probably can be cracked easily lol

wastedkill said:

Now we will see a increase in terrorists and murderers getting Iphones just for this good going apple good going.... Contributing to the worlds problem of finding terrorists and murderers

VitalyT VitalyT said:

I think Skype also is also said to be another communication medium where its encryption can't be broken (supposedly)

The question is - will Skype give up decryption keys under a court order or not. Same goes for any other online media company that claims to be unbreakable.

Guest said:

ATTENTION!! TO ALL LORDS OF DRUGS ATTENTION!!

DEA has your encrypted messages and is trying to make someone crack it because they cant

please flush your drugs down the toilet NOW!

VitalyT VitalyT said:

ATTENTION!! TO ALL LORDS OF DRUGS ATTENTION!!

DEA has your encrypted messages and is trying to make someone crack it because they cant

please flush your drugs down the toilet NOW!

Like it was in movie Lord of War - "It is not lord of war, it is warlord", or "It is not bath of blood, it is bloodbath". Same for you - it is not lords of drugs, it is drug-lords, who also produce tons of drugs, and just because they are such big a$$holes, doesn't mean they got toilets big enough to dump their whole supply, would be embarrassing to call a plumber after - hello, Houston!

Guest said:

"Probaly just saying this so more users will use it."

You are wise my young Padawan... The force is strong with you.

Guest said:

This story does not pass the 'snif test.' Why would any law enforcement agency publicly state their limitations? The phrase 'honey pot' comes to mind.

Sphynx Sphynx said:

Good.

That it will take the DEA longer to conclude some drug cases, and that they may miss conviction on some is a cost I'm happy to bear for the benefit of not having all my communications an open book to the feds.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This story does not pass the 'snif test.' Why would any law enforcement agency publicly state their limitations? The phrase 'honey pot' comes to mind.

Publicly admitting their incompetence will quickly lead to a solution. Quite brilliant when using the press to flush out a hacking solution.

Guest said:

DEA claims it's impossible, doesn't mean NSA can't..

captaincranky captaincranky, TechSpot Addict, said:

This just in! Federal authorities have raised the national FUD alert level to yellowish, maybe sort of orangey, possibly bordering on a chartreuse....

Beings as I don't own a cellphone, my own DILLIGAF alert system remains on low.

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