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Protecting Your Privacy in Safari for OS X El Capitan

Every time you visit a website you are sharing information about yourself with the outside world. This article runs through a number of methods you can use to gain more control over what gets shared, and who it gets shared with, whenever you use Apple's Safari browser to access the web on a Mac. It also covers methods you can use to prevent traces of your browsing history from showing up on your computer. While you may trust friends and family not to go searching through your web history, it's possible for them to unintentionally discover what you've been looking at, just by using Safari or performing an innocent search on your Mac. If you're interested in a similar overview covering Safari on iOS, check out this guide. This guide assumes you are using the latest public release of OS X El Capitan (10.11.6 as of initial writing), which you can check by clicking the  symbol in the menu bar at the top left of your screen and selecting "About This Mac". The version number appears beneath the OS X version name. If you're not up to date, you can download and install the latest version of OS X via the Mac App Store located on the Dock or in the Applications folder. Cookies, Location Services, and Tracking Many websites attempt to store cookies and other web page data on computers used to access online content. Cookies are small data files that can include things like your IP address, operating system, web browser version, the date you last visited the site, as well as any personal information you may have provided, such as your name, email address, and any relevant

Protecting Your Privacy in Safari for iOS

Every time you visit a website on your iPhone or iPad, you are sharing information about yourself with the outside world. This guide runs through a number of methods you can use to gain more control over what gets shared, and who it gets shared with, whenever you use Apple's Safari browser to access the web on an iOS device. It also covers some methods you can use to prevent traces of your browsing history from showing up on your iOS devices. While you may trust friends and family not to go searching through your web history, it's possible for them to unintentionally discover what you've been looking at, just by using Safari or performing a simple Spotlight search on your iPhone or iPad. If you're interested in a similar overview covering Safari on OS X, check out this guide. The guide assumes you are using the latest public release of iOS 9.3 (9.3.3 as of initial writing). If your device is running an older version, a message should have appeared on the screen that an update is available. Connect your device to a power source and then tap "Install Now" on the message to download the update over the air, or open the Settings app and tap General -> Software Update, and then tap "Download and Install". Alternatively, connect your device to a computer with an internet connection and with the latest version of iTunes 12 installed. Open iTunes, select your device (a device icon should appear just below the playback controls), click "Summary" in the sidebar, and then click "Check for Update" in the Summary screen. Click "Download and Update" if an update dialog

'privacy' Articles

Mozilla and Tor Warn of Critical Firefox Vulnerability, Urge Users to Update

Mozilla and Tor have published browser updates to patch a critical Firefox vulnerability used to deanonymize users (via ArsTechnica). Privacy tool Tor is based on the open-source Firefox browser developed by Mozilla, which received a copy of the previously unknown JavaScript-based attack code yesterday. Mozilla said in a blog post that the vulnerability had been fixed in a just-released version of Firefox for mainstream users. The code execution flaw was reportedly already being exploited in the wild on Windows systems, but in an advisory published later on Wednesday, Tor officials warned that Mac users were vulnerable to the same hack. "Even though there is currently, to the best of our knowledge, no similar exploit for OS X or Linux users available, the underlying bug affects those platforms as well. Thus we strongly recommend that all users apply the update to their Tor Browser immediately."The exploit is capable of sending the user's IP and MAC address to an attacker-controlled server, and resembles "network investigative techniques" previously used by law-enforcement agencies to unmask Tor users, leading some in the developer community to speculate that the new exploit was developed by the FBI or another government agency and was somehow leaked. Mozilla security official Daniel Veditz stopped short of pointing the finger at the authorities, but underlined the perceived risks involved in attempts to sabotage online privacy. "If this exploit was in fact developed and deployed by a government agency, the fact that it has been published and can now be used by

Facebook Suspends WhatsApp Data Sharing in the U.K. Following Privacy Probe

Facebook has agreed to pause data collection from WhatsApp users in the United Kingdom following a government probe into the company's privacy policy (via Engadget). Back in August, Facebook-owned WhatsApp updated its terms of service and privacy policy to reflect that it would begin sharing select data with the social media network, including the phone number a user verifies during the registration process and the last time a user accessed the service. Facebook argued that the new policy would allow it to better fight spam and abuse, deliver better friend suggestions and more relevant ads. However, the company soon came under fire from European Privacy watchdogs who cited "serious concerns" over the policy change, while the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is now eight weeks into its own probe. The U.K.'s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham explained the reasons for the probe on the ICO website: "I had concerns that consumers weren't being properly protected, and it's fair to say the enquiries my team have made haven't changed that view. I don't think users have been given enough information about what Facebook plans to do with their information, and I don't think WhatsApp has got valid consent from users to share the information. I also believe users should be given ongoing control over how their information is used, not just a 30-day window."ICO said it was "pleased" that Facebook had agreed to pause using data from U.K. WhatsApp users for advertisements or product improvement purposes. As part of the inquiry, the ICO has also asked

Yahoo Secretly Scanned Millions of Customer Emails for U.S. Authorities [Updated]

Yahoo secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers' incoming emails for specific information at the behest of U.S. intelligence authorities, according to people familiar with the matter. Reuters spoke to three former Yahoo employees who revealed the existence of the custom code, apparently written in compliance with a classified U.S. government demand. The program scanned hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts for the NSA or FBI, said the former employees and a fourth person with knowledge of the events. Surveillance experts say the revelation represents the first case to surface of a U.S. internet company agreeing to an intelligence agency's request by searching all arriving messages, as opposed to examining stored messages or scanning a small number of accounts in real time. According to two former employees, Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's decision to obey the directive did not sit well with some senior executives and led to the June 2015 departure of Chief Information Security Officer Alex Stamos. Stamos now holds the top security job at Facebook, which incidentally just completed the rollout of end-to-end encrypted privacy features for its hugely popular Messenger app. "Yahoo is a law abiding company, and complies with the laws of the United States," the company told Reuters in response to the claims, but stopped short of denying them. It declined any further comment. The NSA referred questions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which also declined to comment. According to Andrew Crocker, an

Facebook Completes Rollout of Messenger App End-to-End Encryption

Facebook has announced that the rollout of cryptographic features for its massively popular Messenger chat service has completed, bringing end-to-end encryption to the largest messaging network in existence. Back in July, the social network company said it was testing the privacy feature on a limited basis which would eventually be rolled out to all 900 million users of the app. On Tuesday, Facebook told Wired that rollout had finished. Messenger now implements the same highly regarded cryptographic Signal Protocol that the company's WhatsApp platform uses to encrypt messages, but the Messenger app needs to be updated and the feature turned on for it to work. A new "Secret Conversations" option can now be found at the top-right of the app's New Message screen, provided that users have enabled the option from the Me profile settings screen. The encryption protocol covers one-to-one text chats and stickers used within threads, but does not currently support the use of videos and GIFs. Messenger users who update the app will also get to use a new Snapchat-style option that erases messages after a specified duration. Messenger is free on the App Store [Direct Link] for iPhone, iPad, and Apple

Tim Cook Tells Utah Tech Audience: Encryption 'Makes the Public Safe'

Apple CEO Tim Cook drew cheers from a Salt Lake City audience on Friday as he reiterated the company's unwavering commitment to encryption and privacy protections for its customers, according to local media reports. The comments were made during a Q&A session at the yearly meeting of the Utah Technology Council (UTC), a trade and advocacy group representing more than 5,000 technology and life-sciences companies across the U.S. state. The 55-year-old CEO was invited along with Utah senator Orrin Hatch to take the stage at the Grand America Hotel and field questions from a public audience. Tim Cook in Q&A with senator Orrin Hatch Calling encryption "one of the biggest issues we face," the CEO noted that most iPhone users have more personal data on their phones than in their homes. "Encryption is one of the things that makes the public safe," he said. "We feel we have a responsibility to protect our customers." "We believe the only way to protect both your privacy and safety from a cyberattack is to encrypt," Cook told about 1,400 industry executives, tech workers and Apple fans. "We throw all of ourselves into this and are very much standing on principle in this."Cook was responding to questions regarding the lingering impact of Apple's dispute with the FBI over the agency's demand that it build a "back door" into its software, following the use of a locked iPhone by the primary suspect in the San Bernardino mass shooting last December. Apple refused to comply with the request from the federal agency, which dropped its pursuit of the company when investigators

Apple Tracks Who You Contact on Messages, Stores Logs for 30 Days

Conversations in the Messages app feature end-to-end encryption that makes the content of the messages impossible to decipher, but according to documentation found by The Intercept, Apple tracks who its customers send iMessages to and is able to hand that information over to law enforcement when compelled to do so through a court order. When a text message is sent to someone, the Messages app pings Apple's servers to see if the person has an iPhone or iPad in an effort to determine whether to send a message via iMessage or SMS. Each ping records date, time, number, and IP address, all of which is kept in a log that Apple says it stores for 30 daysApple confirmed to The Intercept that it only retains these logs for a period of 30 days, though court orders of this kind can typically be extended in additional 30-day periods, meaning a series of monthlong log snapshots from Apple could be strung together by police to create a longer list of whose numbers someone has been entering.The data on how Messages works was reportedly obtained by The Intercept from a document entitled "iMessage FAQ for Law Enforcement" that was given to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement's Electronic Surveillance Support Team. While labled "Law Enforcement Sources" and "For Official Use Only," it is not clear who wrote it. Click to enlarge. Image via The Intercept As The Intercept points out, the documentation suggests that each number entered into the Messages app is transmitted to Apple when a new chat is opened, even if a conversation does not end up taking place. An Apple spokesperson

Apple and Others File Support for Microsoft in Fight for Government Data Access Disclosures

Apple and other companies today filed friend-of-the-court briefs to support Microsoft in its legal fight with the U.S. Department of Justice. Microsoft's lawsuit is aimed at striking down a law that prevents companies from telling customers about government data requests, reports Reuters. Apple joined a wide array of companies to support Microsoft, including Fox News, The Washington Post, BP, Delta Airlines, Google, Snapchat, Amazon, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla and more. Microsoft filed its lawsuit against the Justice Department in April, saying that the government is using the authority of the 30-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act to prevent companies from informing customers when they hand over private data stored in the cloud. Microsoft argues that the government is violating the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees the right for people and businesses to know if the government is searching or seizing their property, and the company's First Amendment right to free speech, which it would use to inform customers. The Department of Justice, which filed a motion to dismiss the suit in July, argues that the public has a "compelling interest in keeping criminal investigations confidential" and that Microsoft has no standing to bring on the case. It also contends that there are procedural safeguards to protect constitutional rights. Apple has also been embroiled in a legal fight with the DoJ, asserting that the FBI's use of the All Writs Act to force Apple to unlock the iPhone used by San Bernardino

Apple Touts 'Differential Privacy' Data Gathering Technique in iOS 10

With the announcement of iOS 10 at WWDC on Monday, Apple mentioned its adoption of "Differential Privacy" – a mathematical technique that allows the company to collect user information that helps it enhance its apps and services while keeping the data of individual users private. During the company's keynote address, Senior VP of software engineering Craig Federighi – a vocal advocate of personal privacy – summarized the concept in the following way: We believe you should have great features and great privacy. Differential privacy is a research topic in the areas of statistics and data analytics that uses hashing, subsampling and noise injection to enable…crowdsourced learning while keeping the data of individual users completely private. Apple has been doing some super-important work in this area to enable differential privacy to be deployed at scale.Wired has now published an article on the subject that lays out in clearer detail some of the practical implications and potential pitfalls of Apple's latest statistical data gathering technique. Differential privacy, translated from Apple-speak, is the statistical science of trying to learn as much as possible about a group while learning as little as possible about any individual in it. With differential privacy, Apple can collect and store its users' data in a format that lets it glean useful notions about what people do, say, like and want. But it can't extract anything about a single, specific one of those people that might represent a privacy violation. And neither, in theory, could hackers or intelligence

Apple-Opposed 'Investigatory Powers' Surveillance Bill Moves Closer to Legality in UK

The United Kingdom's House of Commons this week passed the controversial "Investigatory Powers" bill, which gives spy and government agencies the ability to "engage in bulk surveillance and computer hacking," and has met stern opposition from various technology companies, including Apple. In the House of Commons, the bill passed by a vote of 444 to 69 (via Bloomberg). The original wording of the bill required companies to build anti-encryption backdoors into their software -- a point of contention Apple fought over repeatedly against the FBI this year -- and the storing of website records for every UK citizen by web and phone companies. The updated version of the bill passed this week introduced slight alterations to these rules, which could ultimately play in the favor of companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft in the UK. The updated bill clearly states that companies aren't required to install backdoors to get around encryption when a government agency requests it, with one exception: if taking such an action "is technically feasible and not unduly expensive," the company could face the same request the US government gave Apple earlier in the year. Of course, the exact definition of what would be "technically feasible and not unduly expensive" isn't divulged in the bill. If the bill ultimately becomes law, these definitions would be left to the decision-making of a British judge on a case-by-case basis. According to Apple and CEO Tim Cook, if the company would have been required to introduce a workaround to grant unlimited access to terrorist Syed Farook's

Facebook Considering Optional End-to-End Encryption for Messenger

Facebook is planning to introduce an optional end-to-end encryption mode for its Facebook Messenger chat platform, currently used by more than 900 million people, reports The Guardian. Citing sources "close to the project," The Guardian says the encryption will be an opt-in feature because turning it on will impact some of the new machine learning features being built into the Messenger app like chat bots. Google's upcoming "Allo" messaging app also offers an opt-in end-to-end encryption option it calls "incognito mode." Many major technology companies have taken a stronger stance on privacy, embracing end-to-end encryption following Apple's standoff with the FBI. Earlier this year, the FBI demanded Apple unlock the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook by bypassing Apple's own passcode security features. Apple refused, and the FBI eventually found an alternate way to access the iPhone, but the dispute has scared technology companies into bolstering security. Dozens of major technology companies supported Apple during its fight with the FBI, all of whom were concerned about the precedent the FBI's demand could set. Popular Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp enabled full end-to-end encryption in April, and in March, Swiss software developer Proton Technologies released ProtonMail, an email app offering end-to-end encryption. Apple is also rumored to be working on enhanced security measures for its software and hardware, and apps like Telegram Messenger have grown in popularity. It is not clear exactly when Facebook might introduce new

Opera Web Browser for OS X Gains Free Unlimited VPN Feature

Norway-based company Opera Software has integrated a virtual private network (VPN) feature into the latest developer version of its free Opera web browser for OS X. A VPN creates an encrypted tunnel from the user's computer to the VPN server, hiding browsing activity from other users on the local network and enhancing security and privacy online. A VPN shields a user's real IP address, allowing them to bypass firewalls, block tracking cookies, and access geo-restricted content regardless of their true location. VPNs usually come in the form of separate plug-ins or apps that require a paid subscription, making Opera one the first major browsers to include one as standard. The launch of the feature comes after Opera's acquisition of U.S. VPN company SurfEasy last March. Currently Opera's built-in VPN allows users to choose virtual locations in the US, Canada, and Germany. Opera says more countries will be available when the feature makes it to the stable public release of the browser. Mac users can download Opera 38 developer release and give the free, unlimited VPN a try. After installation, simply click "Opera" in the menu bar, select "Preferences" and toggle the VPN switch on. According to Global Web Index, more than half a billion people (24 percent of the world’s online population) have tried or are currently using VPN services. According to the research, the primary reasons people use a VPN are for better access to entertainment content, browser anonymity, and the ability to access sites restricted by their workplace or country. In January,

Siri and iAd Restricted by Apple 'Policy Czars' to Limit Customer Data Collection

As Apple's battle with the FBI and Department of Justice appears to have hit a crescendo, with the Tuesday hearing between the DoJ and Apple having been postponed, Reuters has published a new report outlining how a team of "policy czars" has impacted Apple's data collection policy and restricted Siri and iAd in the process. Unlike Google, Amazon and Facebook, Apple is loathe to use customer data to deliver targeted advertising or personalized recommendations. Indeed, any collection of Apple customer data requires sign-off from a committee of three "privacy czars" and a top executive, according to four former employees who worked on a variety of products that went through privacy vetting. The three "policy czars" are Jane Horvath, a lawyer who served as global policy counsel at Google, Guy Tribble, a member of the original Macintosh team and the vice president of software technology who spends a significant amount of time on privacy, and Erik Neuenschwander, who reviews lines of engineer's code to confirm that they're following policy. Product managers start collaborating with the privacy task force early, steering complicated privacy issues to senior vice presidents or Tim Cook himself when needed. Key principles behind many of the data decisions for Apple's services and products include keeping data on the hardware rather than in the cloud or Apple's servers and isolating data so it cannot be used to form a profile of a customer. However, Apple's privacy stance has resulted in restrictions to products like Siri and iAd. Employees had wanted to use iTunes' user

Rallies Take Place in Over 50 US Cities to Support Apple in FBI Case

Privacy campaigners held organized rallies across the US yesterday to protest the FBI's demands that Apple unlock the iPhone at the center of its San Bernardino shooter investigation. Following on from limited protests in California last week, rallies extended from Albuquerque to Washington DC to support Apple's insistence that complying with the bureau's demands risked compromising the security of millions of users' data. Protestors rally outside an Apple Store (Image: Cult of Mac) Large crowds are reported to have gathered in front of Apple Stores in Boston, Portland, Reno, Seattle and Los Angeles, with protestors wearing T-shirts and brandishing signs with slogans such as "Don't break our phones". One rally at San Francisco's downtown store – the site of last week's protests – drew around 40 protestors and about 20 members of the press, beginning late afternoon and continuing into the evening. "We're concerned that if Apple undermines its security in response to the FBI's request it will set a very dangerous precedent that could be used in any number of cases going forward, both by the US government and by international governments, including authoritarian regimes that might seek to access our information," Rainey Reitman of the Electronic Frontier Foundation told Cult of Mac. "We're also worried that that key, once it's created, could be a honeypot for hackers that might want to seek access to information or could be misused in many diverse ways. We don't think that it's appropriate that the government order a tech company to undermine its own security

Justice Department Wants Apple to Extract Data From 12 Other iPhones

The U.S. Department of Justice is pursuing additional court orders that would force Apple to help federal investigators extract data from twelve other encrypted iPhones that may contain crime-related evidence, according to The Wall Street Journal. The revelation comes nearly one week after a U.S. federal judge ordered Apple to assist the FBI with unlocking an iPhone belonging to suspected San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook. Apple strongly opposed the court order last week in an open letter to customers. The twelve cases are similar to the San Bernardino case in that prosecutors have sought to use the 18th-century All Writs Act to force Apple to comply, but none are related to terrorism charges and most involve older versions of iOS software. In the past, Apple has extracted data from iPhones under lawful court orders, but the company stopped storing encryption keys for devices running iOS 8 or later. As a result of this stronger protection, Apple cannot assist the FBI without circumventing iOS security and putting the privacy and safety of its customers at risk. Apple has acknowledged that creating a "government-ordered backdoor" is technically possible, but CEO Tim Cook said cooperating with the FBI would set a "very dangerous precedent." Apple said it has "done everything that's both within our power and within the law to help in this case," adding that it has "no sympathy for terrorists." The U.S. government previously said that investigators are only seeking access to a single iPhone related to the San Bernardino attacks, but Apple argued that

Bill Gates Says Apple Should Unlock San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone for FBI [Updated]

Shortly after Apple was ordered to help the FBI recover data from the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, Apple quickly said they would oppose the order, garnering the support of other major tech companies like Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft. In a new interview with the Financial Times, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates has instead backed the FBI, denying that they are asking for a back door. “This is a specific case where the government is asking for access to information. They are not asking for some general thing, they are asking for a particular case,” Mr Gates told the Financial Times.While Apple CEO Tim Cook has consistently argued that unlocking one device would set a dangerous precedent, Gates doesn't believe that it would. He argues that Apple has access to the information, but that they are declining to provide access to the information. Gates compares it to when a bank or telephone company is requested to give up records for a particular person. Gates went on to say that there were benefits to governments having some access to information, but that there would have to be rules in place to limit how they can access that information. He says that he hopes people will "have that debate so that safeguards are built and so people do not opt out -- and this will be in country by country -- [to say] it is better that the government does not have access to any information." FBI Director James Comey said in an editorial yesterday that the request was "not trying to set a precedent" and that it was instead about "the victims and justice." However, the FBI

Apple Says Opposing FBI is 'Absolutely Not' a 'Marketing Strategy'

Apple has shared a new Q&A page that explains why the company is opposing a court order to create a unique version of iOS that would bypass security protections and allow the FBI to unlock an iPhone via brute-force attack. Apple says the objection is "absolutely not" based on the company's concern for its "marketing strategy," as the U.S. Department of Justice opined last week, but rather about ensuring "the vast majority of good and law abiding citizens, who rely on iPhone to protect their most personal and important data" are not at risk. Apple admits that creating a "government-ordered backdoor" is technically possible, but says "the technique, once created, could be used over and over again, on any number of devices." The company insists that complying with the court order would have "dangerous implications" for customer privacy and safety, and set a "very dangerous precedent" that would expand the powers of the U.S. government.Law enforcement agents around the country have already said they have hundreds of iPhones they want Apple to unlock if the FBI wins this case. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks. Of course, Apple would do our best to protect that key, but in a world where all of our data is under constant threat, it would be relentlessly attacked by hackers and cybercriminals. As recent attacks on the IRS systems and countless other data breaches have shown, no one is immune to cyberattacks. Again, we strongly believe the only way to guarantee that such a powerful tool

FBI Director 'Not Trying to Set Precedent' With iPhone Unlock Demand

FBI Director James Comey has written an editorial to respond to concerns that the agency's demands of Apple in the ongoing San Bernardino shooter case undermine privacy rights and threaten future security efforts. "The San Bernardino litigation isn't about trying to set a precedent or send any kind of message," Comey said in an op-ed piece that appeared on the Lawfare blog late Sunday. "It is about the victims and justice. Fourteen people were slaughtered and many more had their lives and bodies ruined. We owe them a thorough and professional investigation under law." The editorial comes after Apple CEO Tim Cook vehemently opposed the FBI's demand that the company helps break into the iPhone of one of the shooters, claiming that the order undermined decades of security advancements designed to protect customers. "Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices," Cook wrote in a letter last week. Comey rejects that claim in the article and states that "the particular legal issue is actually quite narrow. The relief we seek is limited and its value increasingly obsolete because the technology continues to evolve." We simply want the chance, with a search warrant, to try to guess the terrorist's passcode without the phone essentially self-destructing and without it taking a decade to guess correctly. That's it. We don't want to break anyone's encryption or set a master key loose on the land.Tellingly however, Comey goes on to say that the case highlights how such "awesome new technology" creates "serious tension" between

FBI Insists Apple Cooperate Despite Resetting iCloud Password on Shooter's iPhone

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that it worked with San Bernardino County government officials to reset the iCloud account password on an iPhone belonging to suspected terrorist Syed Farook, according to a press statement obtained by Re/code. Apple told reporters on Friday that the Apple ID password associated with Farook's iPhone was changed "less than 24 hours" after being in government hands. Had the password not been altered, Apple believes the backup information the government is asking for could have been accessible to Apple engineers. Nevertheless, the FBI insists that the iCloud password reset does not impact Apple's ability to comply with a court order demanding it create a modified iOS version that allows authorities to unlock the shooter's iPhone 5c by way of a brute-force attack. The FBI further stated that "direct data extraction from an iOS device often provides more data than an iCloud backup contains," and said investigators may be able to extract more evidence from the shooter's iPhone with Apple's assistance. Tim Cook and company, however, have thus far refused to cooperate.Even if the password had not been changed and Apple could have turned on the auto-backup and loaded it to the cloud, there might be information on the phone that would not be accessible without Apple’s assistance as required by the All Writs Act order, since the iCloud backup does not contain everything on an iPhone. As the government’s pleadings state, the government’s objective was, and still is, to extract as much evidence as possible from the phone.Co

Apple Says Apple ID Password on Shooter's iPhone Changed in Government Possession, Losing Access to Data

Shortly after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion demanding Apple comply with an order to help it unlock the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, Apple executives shared key information with several reporters, including BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski, about government missteps that may have led to reduced access to the iPhone in question. According to Apple, the Apple ID password on the iPhone was changed "less than 24 hours" after being in government hands. Had the password not been altered, Apple believes the backup information the government is asking for could have been accessible to Apple engineers. The FBI has said it has access to weekly iCloud backups leading up to October 19, but not after that date, and it is seeking later information that could be stored on the device.The executives said the company had been in regular discussions with the government since early January, and that it proposed four different ways to recover the information the government is interested in without building a back door. One of those methods would have involved connecting the phone to a known wifi network. Apple sent engineers to try that method, the executives said, but the experts were unable to do it. It was then that they discovered that the Apple ID passcode associated with the phone had been changed.Apple executives said the entire backdoor demand could have potentially been avoided if the Apple ID password not been changed, as connecting to a known Wi-Fi network would have caused the device to start backing up automatically so long as iCloud backups

Justice Department Calls Apple's Privacy Case Stance a 'Marketing Strategy'

The United States Justice Department today asked a federal judge to compel Apple to comply with the court's original order that would force the company to help the FBI hack into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. In the filing, shared by The New York Times, the DOJ calls Apple's refusal to help "a marketing strategy" that "appears to be based on its concern for its business model." The DOJ bases this assertion on Apple's past cooperation, when it provided data from devices that ran earlier versions of iOS when ordered to do so via search warrant. Prior to iOS 8, Apple had the tools to extract data from locked iOS devices. With the release of iOS 8, Apple stopped storing encryption keys for devices, making it impossible for the company to access data on devices running iOS 8 or later.Based on Apple's recent public statement and other statements by Apple, Apple's current refusal to comply with the Court's Order, despite the technical feasibility of doing so, instead appears to be based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy.The government has demanded Apple create a tool that would allow the FBI to more easily hack into Farook's iPhone 5c through brute forcing the passcode, something that's quite different than the orders that Apple has complied with on pre-iOS 7 devices. Apple has been asked to develop a new version of iOS software that would do the following: - Eliminate the auto-erase function that wipes an iPhone if the wrong passcode is entered 10 times. - Eliminate the delay that locks the FBI out of the iPhone