WhatsApp encryption is affecting FBI’s work in ‘huge ways’

james comey encryption war far from over apple vs fbi
If you thought Apple won the encryption war against the FBI — think again. FBI Director James Comey says we can expect more litigation from the U.S. government, as it tries to access more and more encrypted devices.

Comey, who spoke to a room of reporters, says encryption is “essential tradecraft” of terrorists like the Islamic State, according to Reuters. A boon to terrorists, encrypted phones hinder law enforcement’s ability to gain access — access that could potentially provide crucial information for investigations.

It’s what happened in the San Bernardino case. One of the shooters, Syed Farook, left behind a locked iPhone 5C. Apple initially complied with the investigation, but when the company received a court order demanding it create a tool that would provide backdoor access into the iPhone, Apple refused.

The iPhone maker believed the tool could fall into the wrong hands, and would then jeopardize the security and privacy of all its customers.

More and more services and devices are being encrypted by default, and the government believes it deserves to have access in case one such device is used by a terrorist or a criminal. But opening access solely for the government is unrealistic — doing so would likely weaken the security to allow anyone to break in.

The FBI eventually dropped the San Bernardino case, and a similar but unrelated New York iPhone case. A team of anonymous hackers managed to break into the device, and the FBI paid them for the technique. Comey says he has an inkling of the identity of the contractor, but he can’t provide “people’s names.”

The director says none of the 500 phones the FBI has had in its possession since October have the same model or operating system version as the iPhone used by Farook, but the Bureau is still trying to find a way to use the technique it bought to crack them.

He singled out WhatsApp, an app that recently turned on encrypted calling and messaging for more than a billion users. That new feature is “affecting the criminal work (of the FBI) in huge ways,” Comey said. But that doesn’t mean the FBI is ready to target the Facebook-owned messaging service yet.

At the end of the day, the FBI is still unlocking phones — of the 4,000 examined since October, only the 500 mentioned earlier have not been unlocked.

Mobile

Mad U.K. retailer slashes 99% off Google Pixel 3a price for a few lucky buyers

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL.
Mobile

T-Mobile One is being rebranded to Magenta, new users get to keep discounts

T-Mobile offers a number of plans for you and your family, but how do you know which one is best for you and your situation? Here, we break down the specifics of each plan to help you decide.
Mobile

Leaked cases show off the new iPhone's squared camera module

The last iPhones just launched, but rumors about the next iPhone are already surfacing. Apple's 2019 flagship could include a variety of upgrades ranging from a new design to enhanced features.
News

Kwikset’s second-generation deadbolts get smarter and safer

Kwikset introduced the second generation of its Signature Series Deadbolt with Home Connect locks, which feature a more compact design and an improved chipset that offers over-the-air security updates.
Deals

Apple Watches get steep smartwatch discounts for Memorial Day

If you've been thinking about picking up a new wearable, an Apple Watch is one of the best smartwatches you can buy. With Memorial Day sales from Walmart and Amazon springing up all over the place, now is a great time to save.
Deals

Best Memorial Day sales 2019: Best Buy, Walmart, and Home Depot drop discounts

If you're looking to save big on some shiny new stuff for Memorial Day 2019, we've gathered everything you need to know into one place. Find out where to save the most money before the summer hits its stride.
Mobile

Amazon Japan may be stopping sales of the P30 in response to U.S. Huawei ban

The U.S. Commerce Department has added Huawei to its "Entity List." Google, Intel, and ARM are all confirmed or rumored to be ceasing business with the company, which may have disastrous effects on Huawei.
Mobile

The world can be your oyster with a little help from the best travel apps around

Traveling doesn't need to be a time-consuming nuisance. Our handpicked selection of the best travel apps will keep things simple, whether you need cost comparisons for hotels or directions to renowned eateries.
Mobile

Hey Google, let’s order out: Food delivery comes to Search, Maps, and Assistant

If you love your takeout, then Google's new online food ordering system is sure to bring a smile to your lips. You can now order takeout from Google Search results, Google Maps, or by using Google Assistant and pick your delivery service.
Mobile

Honor 20 Series is Google certified, says Honor; 20 Pro release date coming soon

Honor has launched the Honor 20 Pro and the Honor 20 at an event that took place in London. The new smartphone is surprisingly compact, with an impressive four-lens camera for taking stunning shots, day or night.
Mobile

Google Duplex sounds a lot like a human — and sometimes it is one

Google Duplex was originally launched as a way to make bookings at restaurants and other locations. The service was hailed for sounding like a human, but according to a new report, the reason for that might be that sometimes it is a human.
Social Media

Vertical video haters win the war — Instagram’s IGTV has a horizontal view

Not yet sold on the idea of vertical video? The traditional horizontal aspect ratio is headed to Instagram's IGTV, thanks to today's update. The change allows horizontal images to fill the screen with the device rotated.
Mobile

Your OnePlus 7 Pro is awesome out of the box, but there's more to discover

You've got your awesome new OnePlus 7 Pro in your hand, and you want to make sure it's set up correctly. Here's our complete guide to the settings you should change, and features you must know about, on the OnePlus 7 Pro.
Mobile

Amazon is reportedly building a wearable that can track your emotions

Amazon may be looking to enter the wearable space. According to a new report, Amazon is looking into building a wearable device that can track a user's emotions, which would be a first for a fitness-tracking device.