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.

Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Social Media

A Facebook, Instagram bug exposed millions of passwords to its employees

Facebook, Facebook Lite, and Instagram passwords weren't properly encrypted and could be viewed by employees, the company said Thursday. The network estimates millions of users were affected.

Browse safely and securely with Opera’s unlimited VPN on Android

Opera has added a new VPN to its Android browser, offering an easy way to keep your privacy and data locked up solid, and with no limits on usage or cost, you can keep it on all the time.

Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat may be coming soon

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.

Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for and start using with your iPhone

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.

Check out 22 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

The iPhone 7 might be attractive, but it’s not rugged. To keep your device in pristine condition, you really need to think about proper protection. That's why we've rounded up some of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers available.

Apple's iOS 12.2 brings support for Apple News Plus and new AirPlay 2 features

After months of betas, the final version of iOS 12 is here to download. The latest OS comes along with tons of new capabilities, from grouped notifications to Siri Shortcuts. Here are all the features you'll find in iOS 12.