“A year ago we couldn’t get into iPhones, but we could get into all the Androids. Now we can’t get into a lot of the Androids.” That’s the statement of a detective who conducts digital forensic examinations for the Fort Worth Police Department in Texas, USA. This is an extract from a conversation between the detective and VICE’s Motherboard.
The conversation was about how the US government has been able over the past years to access data from iPhones without needing backdoors.
For a long while now, the US government has been pressuring Apple to develop a backdoor to their devices to allow easy access of data that they argue may help with prosecuting cases.
However, creating a backdoor is akin to having a crack to water-tight wall. Once there’s a crack, with a little pressure anyone will be able to get in. Having a backdoor defeats the whole concept of encryption. Apple has not bowed in to the pressure.
A new report suggests the US government has been able to access the needed data without getting that backdoor.
Cellebrite, one of the companies governments use to access smartphone data, recently announced a premium tool that could crack any iOS devices and top-end Android phones. According to the article, in a test the tool is able to extract GPS data, messages, call logs, contacts, from the iPhone X and most previous iPhone models.
However, the report says, the tool was less successful with phones running Android and other operating systems. In a test, it failed to extract data from devices like the Google Pixel 2 and Samsung Galaxy S9. It also couldn’t access messages and call logs from the Ellipsis 8 and Galaxy Tab S2 tablets. On the Huawei P20 Pro, it got absolutely nothing.
Of course the company will be working even harder to make their tool able to access data from all devices. This information doesn’t mean that your phone is now completely access proof. It just means, such agencies need more time, and more resources to try and extract data from it. The good thing though is with data from this report, Android users can boast of better security.
The bigger picture though is this: the constant and direct Google Security Patches for Android seem to be doing a good job in ensuring the safety and security of data on Android devices. Keep updating your phone whenever you see the patches.
Source: VICE via XDA Developers