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Police In Oklahoma Have Cracked Hundreds of People's Cell Phones (vice.com) 73

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Motherboard: Mobile phone forensic extraction devices have been a law enforcement tool for years now, and the number of agencies using them is only rising. As part of an ongoing investigation, we have finally been able to turn up some usage logs of this equipment, from Tulsa Police Department, and Tucson Police Department. While the logs do not list the cause of the crime or any other notes about why the phone was being searched, it does list the make of the phone, the date, and the type of extraction. First, let's go over what extraction devices are being used here. Tucson PD opted for the brand that is arguably the worldwide leader in mobile device forensics, the Israeli company Cellebrite. Tulsa Police Department however opted for a few different models -- they purchased two different password breakers from Teel Technologies in 2015, and in March 2016 gave about $1,500 to Susteen for their SecureView extraction device (SecureView was the product Susteen created when the FBI requested they create a more advanced extraction device for them). It does its work instantly, and has an incredible reach into a phone's data. They renewed this contract in 2017. In August 2016 they also purchased the Detective extraction device from Oxygen Forensics. Oxygen is much less common than Cellebrite, from what we have found. The kicker really is how often these are being used -- it is simply really hard to believe that out of the 783 times Tulsa Police used their extraction devices, all were for crimes in which it was necessary to look at all of the phone's data. Even for the 316 times Tucson PD used theirs in the last year, it is still a real stretch to think that some low-level non-violent offenders weren't on the receiving end. There are some days where the devices were used multiple times -- Tulsa used theirs eight times on February 28th of this year, eight again on April 3rd, and a whopping 14 times on May 10th 2016. That is a whole lot of data that Tulsa was able to tap into, and we aren't even able to understand the why.
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Police In Oklahoma Have Cracked Hundreds of People's Cell Phones

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    I agree, this is unnecessary. There are better ways to protect us from terror than cracking people's phones after they commit violent acts. Let's implement a real Muslim ban, unlike the watered down stuff to try to get through the courts. Once we do that, it won't be necessary to crack phones. And the recent terror attacks in the UK prove that a Muslim ban is, indeed, necessary.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 06, 2017 @05:35PM (#54563575)

      Yes, a Muslim ban would be a good start - but it should be quickly followed by a ban on Christians and Jews entering the country. In fact, the only people we should be allowing into the country are Atheists. Lesbian Atheists. And not the butch ones, just the "lipstick" ones. It's the only way to be sure.

    • by tsqr ( 808554 )

      I doubt if more than a paltry few (if any) of these extractions were connected in any way with terrorism-related cases. Much more likely your garden-variety domestic felonies such as homicide and drug trafficking.

    • The fallacy here is "protect us from terror". Maybe we should also be protected from lightning strikes and slipping in the tub.
      • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )

        Maybe we should also be protected from lightning strikes and slipping in the tub.

        And papercuts! Don't forget the notorious papercuts!

        • Maybe we should also be protected from lightning strikes and slipping in the tub.

          And papercuts! Don't forget the notorious papercuts!

          And don't forget the TSA's mandate; protecting us from accidentally sitting down on a toilet that had its lid left up.

    • "Let's implement a real Muslim ban, unlike the watered down stuff to try to get through the courts."

      Religious bans are illegal

  • The motherboard report: https://motherboard.vice.com/e... [vice.com]

    (2nd last link in an article with 11 links. Really?!)

    • Now that I've read the article, it looks like the phone searches either were done with consent or with a warrant, and in most cases, a warrant was used. Hard to feel outraged about that.

      It is eye-opening to see the nice tools the police have to search through phones, though. A pretty UI, it's more than just grep.
      • by Holi ( 250190 )
        They state: "One "preview sheet" we received from Tucson had a column for whether they received a warrant to crack into the phone", that hardly supports the claim of "most cases". That "preview sheet" lists 14 uses.
        • If they're doing it without a warrant, then maybe we have something to worry about.
          • They state: "One "preview sheet" we received from Tucson had a column for whether they received a warrant to crack into the phone", that hardly supports the claim of "most cases". That "preview sheet" lists 14 uses.

            Tucson used it 316 times. I would consider 302 out of 316 "most cases".

            If they're doing it without a warrant, then maybe we have something to worry about.

            Didn't you say that it was with a warrant or consent? If they were given consent, that could explain the 14 part.

    • by Holi ( 250190 )
      I don't get how consent would require the use of a device to crack the phone, wouldn't they just tell them the password?
  • I'd even settle for why Microsoft is good at this point. Give it a rest SlashOverlords.
  • by GrEp ( 89884 ) <crb002.gmail@com> on Tuesday June 06, 2017 @05:33PM (#54563557) Homepage Journal

    Not surprising. Police still need a warrant.

    Androids have become a lot more secure. IPhones are crackable but it takes a special rig, https://arxiv.org/abs/1609.043... [arxiv.org] .

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )
      Yet another reason for me to hold onto the N900. Not getting it's data copied if I get a speeding ticket.
  • - it is simply really hard to believe that out of the 783 times Tulsa Police used their extraction devices, all were for crimes in which it was necessary to look at all of the phone's data.

    No it's not. It's very simple. It's 2017 how do you think drug deals work? Smoke signals?

    • No it's not. It's very simple. It's 2017 how do you think drug deals work? Smoke signals?

      No.
      SMS.
      Which basically have the same level of privacy/intrusion prevention as post-cards. Or smoke signals.

      There's a reason why your low-ranking street-trotting drug dealer is exactly that.
      If he had a little bit more brain and could understand all the intricacies of cryptography and data security,
      he would have enough brain to actually land a better paying job.

      Lots of the information critical to investigate small fry drug dealer can easily be eavesdropped without even needed access to the culprit's phone.

      Of

      • by jon3k ( 691256 )
        That's exactly my point. How do you think they get the contents of those SMS?

        Lots of the information critical to investigate small fry drug dealer can easily be eavesdropped without even needed access to the culprit's phone.

        That's far more complex. Much easier to just catch him with drugs, unlock his phone, read his texts.

        • That's exactly my point. How do you think they get the contents of those SMS?

          Lots of the information critical to investigate small fry drug dealer can easily be eavesdropped without even needed access to the culprit's phone.

          That's far more complex. Much easier to just catch him with drugs, unlock his phone, read his texts.

          In fact to intercept those cleartext SMS's still requires a wiretap auth IIRC, while once part of a search pursuant to arrest for cause the phone search is relatively simple to justify.

        • by dbIII ( 701233 )

          exactly my point. How do you think they get the contents of those SMS?

          See a Judge and then the phone company - it happens a lot every day.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        What I found really funny a few months back is the drug dealer who would stand out in the middle of a park in the middle of the night with multiple phones, all turned on and on the network, setting up his deals. I think it was six phones, and nobody else within 200 yards. The location data did him in because one of the phones was in his real name with his real address. He didn't use that phone for his deals, but it was in his pocket telling the network where he was when he was doing the deals.
        There was p
      • by DarkOx ( 621550 )

        I suspect one of the problems drug dealers face they guys actually selling to the public anyway is the same every other business has: customers.

        The same reason your still does a lot of business over e-mail, plain old telephone, easily tampered paper letters, that they probably should not is simple. Its because a significant number of the clients insist on doing business that way, can't be arsed to learn anything more secure, and practically start shouting 'lalalalala' if you try to educate them as to why t

  • How many times were these done without a warrant?
  • Think of it this way, if they are cracking phones than chances are they are doing so via warrants.

    The privacy issue isn't cops using warrants, the issue is cops performing surveillance without warrants via IMSI catchers (AKA stingrays). One of these involves a singular target with a warrant, the other inevitably gathers data on people where the is no warrant.

    Sounds like they are doing the right thing.

  • Supporting each of approximately 8,000 homeless persons in San Francisco costs about $30,000 or $250 million total; presumably other cities' costs are similar. (Source: homeless censuses and San Francisco budgetary estimates, not including emergency medical services.)

    Either government human services are not cheap -- or Harvard is.

  • How many believed the many stories that some of the older bands had really powerful protection that always worked and that was beyond the funding any city, state or federal contractor could work with per case?
    It was like Enigma, quick, easy and connected.
    The face database is also interesting https://www.muckrock.com/news/... [muckrock.com]
    ".... larger database of between one million, twenty million, or potentially a billion faces to instantly identify in the field"
  • and can guarantee that TPD has no idea why their actually doing it either. But one poster hit it on the head; this is most likely in relationship to busting drug dealers. SWIM once told me that even though many dealers use burners, those burners are still filled with people's numbers, texts, etc that can be used to create a web of information. Motherboard mentions "protesters and activists"; as a Red state we really don't have much of either and it hasn't escalated to the point of arrest in many years. I'v
  • What the hell is so impressive about that? I cracked my own phone last week. It was extremely easy to do and I even did it by mistake.

    I dropped it on the sidewalk and the screen cracked in about three places.

  • It's all those old discarded iphones 3 and 3+ lying in the junk boxes of stoned teenagers that they use as an excuse for calling them 'dealers'.

  • ... on my $20 BLU Tank-II T193 cheapie.

One person's error is another person's data.

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