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Apple: We Can’t Read Your iMessages

by Todd Haselton | October 18, 2013October 18, 2013 8:00 am PDT

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A recent research report from QuarkLabs suggested that Apple can choose to read iMessages at will, or if the government asks it to do so, and now Apple is firing back at those claims.

The report is particularly noteworthy because Apple recently provided an update to its customers following the NSA scandal with Edward Snowden. In that update, Apple said that it doesn’t read iMessages or share that content with the government, though it would be possible to share smaller pieces of data, like who is contacting who. QuarkLabs doesn’t think that’s true, and has found that Apple can read iMessages.

“The weakness is in the key infrastructure as it is controlled by Apple: they can change a key anytime they want, thus read the content of our iMessages,” QuarkLabs said in its report. Apple, however, said that it isn’t so simple and that, actually, iMessage would have to be totally rebuilt in order for it to operate the way QuarkLabs suggests.

“iMessage is not architected to allow Apple to read messages,” Apple explained to AllThingsD. “The research discussed theoretical vulnerabilities that would require Apple to re-engineer the iMessage system to exploit it, and Apple has no plans or intentions to do so.”

Apple might not have plans to do so, but what happens if it’s asked to implement a feature that would allow easier monitoring? Would Apple update its privacy terms?


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...

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