Apple’s investments in iOS security are starting to pay off. A recent report from MIT’s Technology Review said that Apple’s security measures in iOS have “crossed a significant threshold.” iOS is so locked down, in fact, that it’s hard for law enforcement agencies to dig through an iPhone that has been seized from a criminal. This isn’t great news for law enforcement, which can often use that data as evidence against a criminal, but it is good news for consumers.
“I can tell you from the Department of Justice perspective, if that drive is encrypted, you’re done,” said Ovie Carroll, the Department of Justice’s director of the cyber-crime lab at the Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section of the agency. “When conducting criminal investigations, if you pull the power on a drive that is whole-disk encrypted you have lost any chance of recovering that data.”
That wasn’t always the case with the iPhone, however. In fact, the first device that launched in 2007 was so insecure that every single application had root access to the phone’s operating system. As a result, hackers could infiltrate the phone and control it against a user’s will. Apple fixed that problem in 2008, Technology Review explained, and has since prevented applications from accessing iOS as a whole by “sandboxing” them.
“Apple’s security architecture is so sturdy, and so tightly woven into its hardware and software, that it is both easy for consumers to use encryption on their phones and very difficult for someone else to steal the encrypted information,” Technology Review said. Apple uses an Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) key in iOS that is protected further when users decide to activate the phone’s PIN password lock option. A user who implements an eight digit pin would take investigators 15 years to crack, for example, MIT said. iOS encrypts all of the data on an iPhone, unlike Android, which only encrypts part of the data. It also, reportedly, doesn’t take advantage of hardware encryption like iOS does.
Of course, RIM’s BlackBerry operating system is also known for its security, but Technology Review said that it’s not as consumer friendly as iOS.
[via Technology Review]