Apple Says iMessage Interception Would Require Re-Engineering Systems, Has No Interest in Doing So

ios_7_messages_iconYesterday, researchers made a presentation at the Hack in the Box conference arguing that Apple's iMessage system could theoretically allow Apple or another party to intercept the encrypted messages. The concern stems in part from Apple's use of a private server for storing users' public keys used to encrypt messages, meaning that senders have no way of knowing whether a potentially false key has been inserted in order to intercept messages intended for a different recipient.

In a statement to AllThingsD, Apple once again denies that it can read iMessages, noting that it would require the service's systems to be re-engineered and that the company has no interest in doing so.

Apple says that QuarksLab’s theory is just that — a theory, and one that would require a rearchitecting of iMessage for it ever to be a threat in the real world.

“iMessage is not architected to allow Apple to read messages,” said Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said in a statement 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's statement does not actually refute the original claim, simply confirming that as the service is currently configured it is impossible for Apple to intercept iMessages. The researchers' argument rests on the observation that changes could be made to Apple's systems to allow for iMessages to be intercepted without users being aware of the changes.

The result is that Apple is arguing users should trust that the company has no interest in making such changes, and if users take Apple at its word, the researchers' concerns remain merely theoretical. But some users may remained concerned that Apple could be quietly compelled to make changes by government security agencies, compromising Apple's touted "secure end-to-end encryption" for iMessage.

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Top Rated Comments

mattymo Avatar
138 months ago
One should reasonably assess that anything transmitted as data over the air or online could be seen by someone somewhere and that a user should have some bit of trust or hope that no one is reading their stuff. If you don't, then you should wax seal letters and mail or deliver them to your recipient yourself.

Personally, I don't care if an Apple employee knows that I'm iMessaging my wife that I'm on my way home from work.
Score: 32 Votes (Like | Disagree)
bbeagle Avatar
138 months ago
ANY data which is transmitted across the internet may be intercepted by someone. Nothing is safe - you MUST trust companies/people.

Why this Apple-centric bashing?

Facebook employes can read your posts, Citibank employees can see your bank transactions, Google employees can know what all your searches are.

This is no less secure than anything else done on the internet.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
LV426 Avatar
138 months ago
Ah, the dreaded message read by some mystery organization! LMAO! Oh how people love drama! My belief is that, if you are doing nothing wrong, then you have nothing to worry about.

There is always a simple retort to a statement like this from the "Nothing to hide" brigade.

Do you have curtains in your home?
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Solver Avatar
138 months ago
Apple has no plans or intentions to re-engineer the iMessage system, unless Home Land Security "requests" it.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheRainKing Avatar
138 months ago
Big companies never lie, I see no reason not to trust them. :D

At least it's not Google!
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jamesnajera Avatar
138 months ago
Once again... APPLE DOES NOT CARE ABOUT YOU, JUST YOUR MONEY. They don't care about your texts. Obviously there is some way that they can view, but you'll never know. They can easily lie to you.

I think Apple truly does care about our security. Look at all the trouble Apple went to for storing Touch ID fingerprints in ARM's Secure Enclave. Do you think HTC does that with there new HTC ONE with fingerprint slide recognition? To act like AAPL does not make a real attempt to protect our information is wrong. Do you see ads in your Apple email? Meanwhile GOOG will whore out your information as fast as they can and throw ads constantly in your face (even more aggressively now, due to the lowering profit margins from ads).
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)