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Mobile 'Remote Wipe' Thwarts Secret Service

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the cry-them-a-river dept.

Security 383

bennyboy64 writes "Smartphones that offer the ability to 'remote wipe' are great for when your device goes missing and you want to delete your data so that someone else can't look at it, but not so great for the United States Secret Service, ZDNet reports. The ability to 'remote wipe' some smartphones such as BlackBerry and iPhone was causing havoc for law enforcement agencies, according to USSS special agent Andy Kearns, speaking on mobile phone forensics at a security conference in Australia."

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Aww.. (5, Insightful)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32252956)

My heart bleeds for these guys. Really, it does.

Re:Aww.. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253026)

Seriously, if they're too stoopid to turn off the phone, how do they expect to catch a master kriminal?

Re:Aww.. (4, Funny)

h00manist (800926) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253084)

My heart bleeds for these guys. Really, it does.

Your free flight to a remote dark room is on its way.

Re:Aww.. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253118)

Bleh, whatever.

Re:Aww.. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253164)

Cool, I love photography!

Re:Aww.. (3, Funny)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253762)

the OTHER kind of darkroom.

Re:Aww.. (1, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253270)

It should, actually. The S.S. isn't your average cop, they're for counterfeiting and protecting the President of the US, (and foreign and domestic dignitaries) so if they are unable to gain access to these phones before they're remotely wiped, that's a bad thing.

I don't understand why people think this is a good thing.

It's not.

Re:Aww.. (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253344)

Umm... Because it suggests that the phones (though not the networks) aren't backdoored?

The fact that the Secret Service, who ought to be a bit sharper than Joe Beat Cop, haven't mastered the art of "turning the phone off before it gets wiped" doesn't strike me as a good thing. However, the fact that "wipe" means "wipe" not "Wipe, unless the state says otherwise" does.

Re:Aww.. (2, Funny)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253434)


The fact that the Secret Service, who ought to be a bit sharper than Joe Beat Cop, haven't mastered the art of "turning the phone off before it gets wiped" doesn't strike me as a good thing. However, the fact that "wipe" means "wipe" not "Wipe, unless the state says otherwise" does.

Right, because the S.S. never works with local law enforcement,etc, etc.

Frankly, I give a shit if the S.S. can read the information on my phone if they detain me. First, in order for me to be detained by the S.S., I'd have to be in a pretty precarious situation in the first place.

I'm waiting for the "first they came for the _____" responses. The reality is, the S.S. doesn't give a damn about the average person. They're concerned with counterfeiters and threats to dignitaries and the President. If having the information off the phone helps them capture counterfeiters and helps to uncover terroristic plots against US dignitaries, fine by me.

Re:Aww.. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253492)

The nigger got involved with the mafiaa.

The nigger deserves to be shot.

Re:Aww.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253496)

...First, in order for me to be detained by the S.S., I'd have to be in a pretty precarious situation in the first place.

I'm waiting for the "first they came for the _____" responses. The reality is, the S.S. doesn't give a damn about the average person. They're concerned with counterfeiters and threats to dignitaries and the President. If having the information off the phone helps them capture counterfeiters and helps to uncover terroristic plots against US dignitaries, fine by me.

That's a mighty big assumption to make. What if your finger print partially matches a fingerprint found at a crime scene (like Brandon Mayfield)? If that scene was an attempted attack on the president, you might have a different impression. And that was just caused by simple incompetence. If there's real malice, things get even hairier.

Re:Aww.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253512)

you are an idiot

Re:Aww.. (4, Insightful)

Mister Whirly (964219) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253570)

Right, becasue everyone knows that mistakes are never made by law enforcement.

I mean if you don't have anything to hide, why should anyone be worried?

Re:Aww.. (2, Interesting)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253576)

Except the S.S. aren't the only one who could benefit from this information. I'm sorry for them but the reality is that the function is performing as advertised. The S.S. having a backdoor is just that much easier for crackers to get in your phone. Remote wipe is an important feature now that our phones hold much more info then they used to.

Re:Aww.. (2, Funny)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253660)

I'm waiting for the "first they came for the _____" responses. The reality is, the S.S. doesn't give a damn about the average person. They're concerned with counterfeiters and threats to dignitaries and the President. If having the information off the phone helps them capture counterfeiters and helps to uncover terroristic plots against US dignitaries, fine by me.

OH RIGHT!!! I forgot about dem darn tooten turrists! Thanks for reminding me!

Seriously though, you are in idiot. If you want to trust the government like that then fine, but you are a minority in this respect.

Re:Aww.. (1)

dwillden (521345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253630)

Because they want to keep it in an unchanged state until it can be handed to the forensics techs. Turning off the power will wipe anything in the ram. Now they have to make the decision to kill the power or risk a remote wipe.

And the Forensic techs now need to make sure they power the device up in a signal free area, so a latent wipe command can't be sitting on the network waiting for the device to log in and receive the command.

The Service will now need to ensure it's agents always have an exploitation kit at hand, to immidiately clone all data on any seized phone right there on the spot. They'd prefer to have techs do it in a controled environment, but this threat means they don't have time to wait for the device to get to the techs.

Re:Aww.. (2, Informative)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253732)

Because they want to keep it in an unchanged state until it can be handed to the forensics techs. Turning off the power will wipe anything in the ram. Now they have to make the decision to kill the power or risk a remote wipe.

Or they can have Faraday cage boxes made up and pop the phone into a box as part of the standard procedure of picking it up. Putting the phone into a locked box as soon as it's picked up is good for the evidence chain anyways.

Re:Aww.. (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253376)

Yes, Obama should be so scared of my president-lethal ringtones!

Re:Aww.. (5, Insightful)

daid303 (843777) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253378)

I might have been playing to much Commandos, The Saboteur, Wolvenstein and Day of Defeat. But when you say S.S. I think about a whole different kind of 'cop'.

Scary enough, you see them the same way as the original S.S. was seen by the public many years ago.

Re:Aww.. (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253420)

I don't feel sorry for them if they aren't bright enough to turn the damn thing off.

Re:Aww.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253454)

So, I'm betting you're worried 24/7 because the secret service can't decrypt private-key-based ciphers?

Hey Mr. Spook, I'm so sorry we're making your job hard. We'll discontinue all encryption that can't be reasonably broken by you.
Signed, The American People.

Re:Aww.. (3, Interesting)

KingSkippus (799657) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253462)

...if they are unable to gain access to these phones before they're remotely wiped, that's a bad thing. I don't understand why people think this is a good thing.

Because if they are able to gain access to these phones before they're remotely wiped, then other people can gain access to your phone before it can be remotely wiped. 99.999% of those people do not have your best interest at heart. Probably 99.9% of them are thieves and criminals trying to screw you over. 0.099% of them are law enforcement officials overstepping the bounds of what is allowed by law. (But it would cost you tens or hundreds of thousands in legal fees to prove it in court, and you'd risk the chance that you get an idiot judge who sets a bad precedent for everyone else.)

If we're lucky, 0.001% of them have anything to do with the president or counterfeiters, but really, I think that's being generous.

Re:Aww.. (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253522)

No, they're for counterfeiting and reporting back to the treasury department on the Presidents actions/physically threatening the president, because the treasury really runs this country. /Or some crazy conspiracy theory, I can't remember which. //As conspiracy theories goes, it is one of the better ones.

Re:Aww.. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253610)

It protects our privacy..

That is a good thing. Our freedoms are much more important than the life of a politician, king, or anybody else. Like Bary Goldwater, I take a very hard line. "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice..."

Re:Aww.. (1)

asdfghjklqwertyuiop (649296) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253712)

The S.S. isn't your average cop, they're for counterfeiting and protecting the President of the US, (and foreign and domestic dignitaries)

You sure about that? [2600.com]

Re:Aww.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253350)

hey, are you on Twitter?

Re:Aww.. (2, Insightful)

palegray.net (1195047) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253410)

It's okay. Hopefully they'll still have plenty of information from tapping phone calls that were already placed.

Re:Aww.. (1)

pelrun (25021) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253518)

Watch out - remember they've almost figured out how to detect sarcasm in forum posts now!

http://science.slashdot.org/story/10/05/17/1541236/Software-Recognizes-Sarcastic-Tweets

Remote Wipe More Danagerous Than You Thought (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253560)

Inclusion of this feature will likely cause cell phones to be banned in public places, since it will make it possible for terrorist cells to randomly set explosives and remotely detonate by phone without leaving a trace? If the terrorists can up the ratio of kills 100's:1, then they stand a very good chance of winning. Soon we will need to play a little smarter.

Re:Aww.. (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253694)

To me it highlights how much bumbling idiots these guys are. If you have a phone that you NEED the evidence inside it, the second you get it you wrap that thing in several layers of tinfoil and take it directly to a faraday cage workspace to start the process. Honestly, this should have been standard practice for ANY phone over the past 10 years.

Dont they teach these guys anything?

Secure wipes? (2, Interesting)

Infiniti2000 (1720222) | more than 4 years ago | (#32252994)

Are they secure wipes or can data still be gleaned?

Re:Secure wipes? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253172)

Are they secure wipes or can data still be gleaned?

I don't know about iphone, but blackberry wipes securely. The blackberry platform has been tested, audited & certified by many government & private agencies:

http://na.blackberry.com/eng/ataglance/security/certifications.jsp [blackberry.com]

The iphone has been tested, audited & certified by... nobody.

But there is one advantage to the iphone - since you can't take out the battery, it remains on the network for a longer time to receive the wipe signal.

Re:Secure wipes? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253408)

iPhone 3GS with OS4 will be secure, it will wipe the key immediately and then clean the datastore in the background. This change was made because the old phones took forever to wipe their fairly large flash storage space.

Re:Secure wipes? (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253422)

Were I in law enforcement, I would institute a policy where electronic devices were put into a signal inhibiting box (Faraday cage) upon acquisition. Said box could then be taken to a room for analysis. It won't necessarily prevent the wipe, but it will help a lot. Would also help in situations where the bad guys were doing something with the phone signal (like trying to locate where the cops were staked out).

Re:Secure wipes? (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253664)

Had you RTFA, you'd know that this is already in place. It's just that the occasional agent here and there has forgotten to follow it and has sent a device off to the lab without removing the battery and/or putting it in the shielded envelope.

The entire FA is a big fuss about nothing, AFAICT. Even the lab admitted that it happens occasionally but it's not a huge problem.

Re:Secure wipes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253724)

Were I a bad guy I'd encrypt the storage and have the key wiped if a code isn't entered every 15 minutes. The key would preferably be in the most volatile location possible.

Re:Secure wipes? (4, Informative)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253228)

Depends on the phone model, I suspect.

My understanding is that the accepted "proper" way to do it is to have all the user-relevant data on the phone stored in encrypted form, with a stored key making it transparently accessible. That way, when the "wipe" command comes, you just have to nuke the key, which takes mere moments, rather than a potentially quite large block of Flash, possibly hiding behind one or more controller chips that are abstracting things, and remapping, and doing other stuff that interferes with your ability to wipe the data hard enough to resist an adversary willing to physically inspect the memory chips, or even a raw dump of their contents.

If a phone implements that correctly, any three-letter-agency without a magic quantum computer stolen from the Greys isn't going to be able to do much about it. If there is some nasty flaw in their implementation, or if they use an inferior system of some sort, it is quite possible that fairly trivial attacks will reveal most or all of the information.

Re:Secure wipes? (1)

OzPeter (195038) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253672)

any three-letter-agency without a magic quantum computer stolen from the Greys isn't going to be able to do much about it.

I call you a liar .. CSI is a 3 letter agency and they surely won't need some imaginary computer stolen from some imaginary space peoples in order to recover the photo that the victim took of their attacker just moments before they died.

Re:Secure wipes? (1)

Stick32 (975497) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253742)

My understanding is that the accepted "proper" way to do it is to have all the user-relevant data on the phone stored in encrypted form, with a stored key making it transparently accessible. That way, when the "wipe" command comes, you just have to nuke the key, which takes mere moments...

This is how the 3GS does it, and it takes under 2 minutes. Older model iPhones do it by actually nuking the data which can take hours. Once the wipe is initiated on the older models, though, it can't be stopped outside of putting the iPhone into recovery mode. Also, the remote wipe option on iPhone also requires having a MobleMe account enabled on your iPhone beforehand.... Yay for lockin....

Re:Secure wipes? (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253252)

Usually (as in the case with the iPhone and Blackberry), all data is encrypted by default and the remote wipe deletes the encryption key a couple of times. This makes all data unreadable and unrecoverable - even if you could read the data it would still be worthless.

Re:Secure wipes? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253364)

The real question is - are they secure, sanitary wipes?

Hm (3, Insightful)

pudge (3605) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253000)

The Secret Service just need a Faraday Cage Fanny Pack.

Re:Hm (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253040)

Or just put the phone into 'airplane mode'. I would have thought that would be what they did anyway, do they just leave them connected to the network all the time when they're working on them or what?

Not enough (0, Troll)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253248)

Some phones never truly turn off, and have the ability to be turned on remotely. The government was pushing for this feature, and now it has turned around and bit them. The only way to be certain that the black box you are carrying cannot communicate with the outside world is to remove the battery or stick it in a Faraday cage. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.

Re:Not enough (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253468)

Some phones never truly turn off, and have the ability to be turned on remotely. The government was pushing for this feature, and now it has turned around and bit them. The only way to be certain that the black box you are carrying cannot communicate with the outside world is to remove the battery or stick it in a Faraday cage. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages.

What's the disadvantage of a Faraday cage? Metal rooms get hot?

Also would a cell jammer not work?

Re:Not enough (1)

pavon (30274) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253764)

I can't think of any disadvantages to a faraday cage for a normal unrigged phone, other than the fact that you have to have one with you. The first cop on the scene probably won't, and will have to wait for the crime scene folks to show up. The phone could be remote wiped in that time. The disadvantages of removing the battery are that there may be info that is lost upon removing power and that not all phones have removable batteries.

A phone could be rigged to clear itself on boot and/or in the case of being without service for a certain period of time. Since you won't know which is the case then there really isn't much point in factoring it into your decision, though.

Re:Hm (1)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253324)

Or just put the phone into 'airplane mode'.

That would require every police officer to know how to navigate the menu system and do that on every smartphone ever made. Even just turning off a phone you've never seen before isn't necessarily obvious.

What isn't clear to me is exactly what evidence they're expecting to find. A log of every phone call made or received, and every text sent or received, is already available from the service provider. If a criminal is smart enough to know about and deploy a remote-erase feature, aren't they smart enough to just not store incriminating evidence in the phone to begin with?

Re:Hm (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253046)

Or... you know... turn the thing off until you get it into a secure place.

Re:Hm (3, Interesting)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253056)

They have one, apparently.

"Hopefully our officers are putting the cell phones in a Faraday bag that is shielded, pulling the battery [out] and turning them off [before] getting them into the shielded laboratory."

Re:Hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253194)

What about devices like the iPhone that don't have an easily removable battery?

Re:Hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253258)

Sue apple for making a terrorist friendly communication device

Re:Hm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253224)

"Hopefully our officers are putting the cell phones in a Faraday bag that is shielded, pulling the battery [out] and turning them off [before] getting them into the shielded laboratory."

Deep below the earths crust where an army of techie-like-gremlins work tirelessly in a labrinthy maze of dusty, dirty laboratories consisting of ancient testing equipment made before the dawn of man. Only Down here, where only the flicker of overhead lamps shine shadows into the darkness, is justice done.

Re:Hm (1)

RaceProUK (1137575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253382)

There's one problem with that - it requires thinking.

Re:Hm (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253730)

No it doesn't. It requires a simple, mindless process: supply all agents with shielded bags for mobile phones, instruct them that the process for mobile phone evidence is it goes in the special bag and does not come out before it gets to the lab.

And if there's one thing most law enforcement agencies worldwide are extremely good at, it's simple mindless processes.

Re:Hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253706)

They pull out the battery and THEN turn it off?!

Re:Hm (1)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253242)

Good luck explaining a scientific concept to the average Secret Service agent. That's like trying to tell a CIA analyst that psychics don't exist in real life.

Re:Hm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253626)

Didn't work for you either, eh?

Turn them off? (1)

Vectorman0 (795415) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253032)

They seriously can't turn them off temporarily before they stash the mobile devices out of range of service?

Re:Turn them off? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253178)

but then maybe the bad guy had turned on the evil "ask for pin" feature which would surely lock them out of the phone forever
so you see the US SS has to disable all features that may prevent them from immediately being able to look at the data on the phone

Gist of the story (5, Insightful)

thesaurus (1220706) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253034)

If officers don't follow evidence procedures correctly, evidence gets screwed up. And it doesn't happen very often.

"Sometimes you'll get a cellphone that comes in that is wiped, [but] it's not all that common," he said. Agents were trained to incapacitate devices, but Kearns cautioned that not all enforcement agencies had the same knowledge.

Re:Gist of the story (4, Insightful)

oldspewey (1303305) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253192)

So basically, this is crime scene preservation training 101. If an officer stumbles around a physical murder scene, eating hot chicken wings, randomly picking up pieces of evidence, and leaving delicious buffalo sauce all over everything, he will destroy the physical evidence before it can be expertly analyzed. But hopefully with adequate training, he learns how to take adequate precautions.

Re:Gist of the story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253416)

Why am I suddenly ordering Domino's hot wings?

Re:Gist of the story (2, Insightful)

torgis (840592) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253600)

Sounds like a sinfully delicious crime.

Just pull the battery out! (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253054)

I wouldn't waste a moment waiting on the phone to power down on its own.

Re:Just pull the battery out! (1)

Pamplona Slowpoke (1130755) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253128)

Aren't we talking about iPhones here?

Re:Just pull the battery out! (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253200)

Sure, why not? You think the flash chip will be erased by a little sledgehammer force? But seriously, it does take forever to turn an iPhone/iPod Touch off the proper way. It's holding down two buttons for 10 full seconds before it even responds to the request. Airplane mode would be quicker on an iPhone.

Re:Just pull the battery out! (1)

nneonneo (911150) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253456)

No, to turn off an iPhone/iPod touch the proper way, you hold down the sleep button for five seconds, and slide to power off. It's really not that hard.

Re:Just pull the battery out! (1)

omnichad (1198475) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253564)

Sorry. Last time I powered off it was because the OS froze. A hard power off is holding the home and sleep button for 10 seconds.

Re:Just pull the battery out! (1)

stephentyrone (664894) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253482)

One button for 3 seconds. Details, details.

Re:Just pull the battery out! (1)

zill (1690130) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253150)

Especially on phones running Android, where anyone proficient in Java can make a fake "Power off" button that zeros out the entire device.

Re:Just pull the battery out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253246)

An even better idea is to have a service that runs and periodically asks for a passcode. If you don't respond after a certain amount of time, wipe the device.

Re:Just pull the battery out! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253658)

So if I leave my phone at my desk when I go to drop a deuce I could return to find my phone wiped cleaner than I am? No Thanks!

Re:Just pull the battery out! (1)

nneonneo (911150) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253484)

Most Android phones also have a battery cover, so in these cases you just pull the battery: problem solved.

Can't (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253562)

Can't with the iPhone

How would you do remote wipe on a laptop? (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253112)

Seems to be that the gating factor with a laptop is that it has to be online in order to get a poison pill. A smart phone, well that's easy to send a poison pill because it's still online even after the point you lose control of the device. A laptop, however, can be left turned off and the disk duplicated before anyone actually turns the power on the drive.

Disk encryption helps to the extent that it prevent an unauthorized people from accessing the drive but that's not the same as a remote wipe, since you can still use rubber hose cryptanalysis or a supoena to get the passphrase. What's needed is some kind of pc hardware that can take instructions to do a remote wipe from a pre-boot phase to delete the encryption key itself (not just the passphrase), and secure enough so that some hacker can't remote wipe your pc for you.

Re:How would you do remote wipe on a laptop? (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253264)

My understanding is that this very feature is either available or available-real-soon-now in certain corporate models with integrated cellular broadband cards(since, effectively, if the PC has a cell card with BIOS integration, doing just about anything a smartphone could do under the circumstances is just a matter of implementation).

Re:How would you do remote wipe on a laptop? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253298)

Seems to be that the gating factor with a laptop is that it has to be online in order to get a poison pill. A smart phone, well that's easy to send a poison pill because it's still online even after the point you lose control of the device. A laptop, however, can be left turned off and the disk duplicated before anyone actually turns the power on the drive.

There are laptops with built-in cellular data cards (Dell, HP and others sell them). Some of them also offer remote tracking & wipe capability.

Reverse the process... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253310)

Don't have it waiting for the poison pill - have it waiting for the antidote.
Which is administered manually or via internet.

24 hours without the "antidote" - it locks up.
Turn it on after that without the "antidote" - it gets wiped out completely.

Re:How would you do remote wipe on a laptop? (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253700)

Remote wipe is super easy on a laptop. Use full-disk encryption and don't leave your laptop powered on. If they can't guess your passphrase, it's equivalent to what happens when an iPhone is remote-wiped -- with the exception that you could be convinced to give them your passphrase eventually.

Great! (1)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253120)

Sounds like it's working then.

from the cry-them-a-river dept. (5, Insightful)

syrinx (106469) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253156)

So the Slashdot groupthink's anti-law enforcement stance has extended to the Secret Service now? Which part are we in favor of: counterfeiting money or assassinating the president? Personally I'll go ahead and take a bold anti-counterfeiting/anti-assassination position and say that this is a bad thing.

Re:from the cry-them-a-river dept. (1)

chill (34294) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253240)

Personally, I'll bet it is the counterfeiting that irritates them most. The gov't hates competition.

From the article:

The problem is that accomplices can remotely wipe the phones if the agencies don't remember to remove the battery or turn off smartphones before sending them off to the forensics laboratory, he said.

Fortunately, the person in the article isn't wanting anything done about it other than agents remembering to do this. Nothing to this article, other than the guy saying "sometimes we forget to do this and it is a pain. Don't forget."

Re:from the cry-them-a-river dept. (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253262)

I'm a counterfeiter, you insensitive clod!

The money just wants to be free!

Re:from the cry-them-a-river dept. (-1, Flamebait)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253368)

Not flamebait, asshole moderator.

The above is though. Feel free to mod it as such.

(When the hell did "I disagree with your opinion" become the reason for modding someone flamebait or troll? Get your shit together, stupid moderators.)

Re:from the cry-them-a-river dept. (1)

inpher (1788434) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253402)

No one should per default have access to any of your personal items or information, nor should anyone have any kind of back door that makes it easy to gain access to another persons items or information. It is as simple as that. Some part of me is sorry that the police (and more shady agencies) will not automatically get access to everything you are and own on the mere suspicion of a crime the other part of me acknowledges that they already have the possibility to use legal tools such as subpoenas, search warrants et.c. to get access to relevant items and information when you are a suspect of a crime.

Re:from the cry-them-a-river dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253506)

I'm in favor of privacy and due diligence.

if they have the proof I've done something wrong, they won't need my phone.
if they don't have any proof of wrongdoing, why in hell they are searching my property?

Re:from the cry-them-a-river dept. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253546)

Yes, you are absolutely right. We all think the same, have the same opinions, and watch the same fetish pr0n. Now excuse us, we all need to go back to the site with racy photos of short red heads with acne problems, who like cockroaches, wear converse sneakers, and have a penchant for oral sex with armadillos. mmmmm.

In Other Words: The Mobile Phone Network (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253168)

is a botnet !

Thanks in advance.

Yours In Smolensk,
K. Trout

Airplane mode ftw. (1)

Mekkah (1651935) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253174)

Airplane mode F T W.

The general case (1)

Sloppy (14984) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253300)

If a device serves the interest of a particular user, then that device is less useful to people whose interests conflict with that user.

Not much of a story or revelation when you phrase it that way, huh?

Let's not forget that law enforcement is just one entry on a long, long list of entities whose interests may conflict with the owner of a phone, and most of those people happen to also be law enforcement's opponents. So it's not like you can "fix" the "problem" of devices serving their users, without taking a largely pro-crime stance. Yes, largely, because the efforts of law enforcement are pretty much small time and comparatively rare events, compared to the constant daily barrage of crackers, thieves and other unknowns.

Imagine: someone's phone may go missing, and that's all you know ahead of time. Just what are the chances that it's missing because law enforcement took it? You can practically ignore the possibility. Wipe it, and defend all users' ability to encrypt and remote-wipe their devices. Don't let them turn this into some kind of excuse to remove devices' capability to serve their users, because it really will be disingenuous. If someone tries to do that, they are not trying to protect their citizens from crime.

Battery (1)

LuminaireX (949185) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253414)

I'd be pretty cross if they pulled the battery out of my iPhone. They'll void my warranty!

Fuck da po-lice! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32253486)

You heard me. Fuck 'em!

Who cares? (0, Troll)

olddotter (638430) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253550)

Really, your telling me there are plans for the Death Star on the phone and you can't get them any other way if it gets wiped?

Call history will be with the phone company, get a warrant. So you loose self incriminating video they took of themselves committing the crime, probably to post on youtube later...

Faraday cage (1)

laughing_badger (628416) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253618)

Why on earth do agents not have metalised bags to drop phones to be used as evidence into? Not to be opened until in a secure location with no network signal?

Remote wipe requires remote signal, yes? (4, Informative)

DdJ (10790) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253636)

As I understand it, doing any of the following should be able to prevent a remote wipe from happening:

* put it into "airplane mode"
* remove the SIM (assuming GSM with no wifi)
* remove the battery

If you need the SIM or battery to get the data off the device, you can then take it to a faraday cage and put the SIM or battery back in once you're sure no signal can get to the phone. Yes?

Anything that protected against these "attacks" would also make it so the phone's user couldn't access their data when the signal strength was sufficiently poor. Which some folks might choose as their configuration, but then they're open to a new kind of denial-of-service attack.

Remote wipe is useful when you want to prevent a random schlub (eg. pickpocket, guy at bar) from getting data off a randomly-acquired phone (eg. "iPhone HD"). I do not think it's useful for preventing a professional with intent from getting data off a phone they're targeting specifically because of its data. Am I wrong?

Counter-countermeasure (1)

Georules (655379) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253686)

I would set my phone to wipe-on-battery-pull. Most phones have a latch you have to pull before the battery actually comes out. That could be the trigger. Or, wipe-on-out-of-range-from-me, which would require another piece of hardware, possibly implanted. Then when they turn it on in the lab, it wipes because I'm not there.

Just use the usual solution: (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253710)

Plant some “evidence”.

There. Done.

Change paper so you can't destroy it? (1)

Shugart (598491) | more than 4 years ago | (#32253748)

I wonder if they want to change paper so it can't be destroyed. That way it would be easier to investigate a paper trail.
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