iMessage Encryption too Strong for Feds’ Surveillance

imessageiMessage’s end-to-end encryption is so strong that federal agencies are having difficulties snooping over messages sent using the service, as revealed in an intelligence note leaked today.

The leaked intelligence note belongs to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), who complain that intercepting messages between two Apple devices is next to impossible, even with a court order approved by a federal judge.

According to CNET, the DEA became aware of this issue during a criminal investigation in February this year, when the agency’s San Jose, California office learnt that the surveillance data handed over by Verizon was incomplete because some of the text messages were actually sent as iMessages.

This has to be another cause of worry for law enforcement agencies — the seamless integration of iMessage within iOS, without any user action, replaces SMS, a medium that can be wiretapped, with a very secure messaging channel, immune to eavesdropping. Since its launch in 2011, iOS and Mac users have sent more than 300 billion iMessages.

The FBI and other law enforcement agencies have long been gunning for laws that expand their wiretapping capabilities to newer form of communications like social networks, VoIP services, IM and of course email. Even if they don’t get these “backdoors” anytime soon, they can easily subpoena Apple to hand over unencrypted iMessage content.

You can view the “Intelligence Note” by visiting this URL.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=896700356 Igor Rebenko

    Really? Did you even read your own article. The pigs received already encrypted messages because Verizon gets them that way. They didn’t try to decrypt them at all. You title is is misleading.

    • http://www.iphonehacks.com iPhoneHacks

      The data that the Feds received was SMS not iMessages. That’s Apple’s domain.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=896700356 Igor Rebenko

        Even after the fact, your title is still misleading. The Feds never tryed and failed at decrypting iMessage messages.

    • el

      ‘Assumption is the Mother of all Fxxkups’. Quote & unquote – Under Siege 2. :)

    • joke

      This article is a joke. There’s nothing special with imessages, the feds cannot decrypt practically anything. Https, ssl,…

      • http://rounak.me/ Rounak Jain

        The key point was that it replaces an insecure channel with a secure one without a lot of effort from the user’s end.

      • http://www.iphonehacks.com iPhoneHacks

        We all know how encryption works. But to assume that there are no backdoors created for government agencies to eavesdrop on conversations over secure channels would be quite naive.

        It may not be possible to do so with iMessage or other internet based messaging services currently but the FBI is pushing for legislations that would allow them to do so.

        • Alan

          People who call this a joke seem to be oblivious about wiretapping laws.

          The guy with username @454c016d288f73f0fbbc03a77f72f295:disqus is a big joker and @facebook-896700356:disqus understand the article before making smart ass comments.

          • http://twitter.com/db_DESIGN dbDESIGN

            Agreed. There are a bunch of loudmouth little boys here. You fellas need to relax yourselves.

  • Microsoftjunkie

    Lol stupid.

  • Kraken

    Real terrorists are using encryption way stronger than iMessage. The government just wants to snoop on everyone regardless of whether they have probable cause, or whether any crime was committed. Shouldn’t our tax dollars be spent on something more useful than cracking encryption and monitoring all text messages ever sent just to determine whether some teenager smoked a joint?

  • Zangpakto

    Yes, because buying a burn sim is too mainstream isn’t it… :/

    Those that want items hidden, can easily hide it. That is why it is so hard for the feds to even catch those high up in the chains.

    It is the stupid naive idiots that screw up that the feds catch and pretend are huge achievements.

    Everything, there is a way to remain hidden 100%, however, can you guarantee you will be 100% in following absolute everything needed in order to remain hidden at all times? Chances are, unless you know and live it, your not going to. Somewhere you will make a mistake, and those mistakes are what the feds look for.

    They are human after all, and they are for most part a bunch of idiots and script kids.