The Signal application has been broken – end-to-end encryption is interrupted. At least, this is the absurd statement made by the infamous forensic tool provider Cellebrite.
But the old maxim applies: No matter how good your technology is, if your opponent controls your physical device, it is game over.
Signal Moxie Marlinspike (pictured) will not be a happy bunny. In today’s SB Blogwatch, we become physicists.
Your humble blogwatcher has taken care of these blog bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: jazz carols.
What is craic? Omer Benjakob and Oded Yaron report – “Strong claims that it can now enter the encrypted signal application”:
Cellebrite can now enter Signal, an encrypted application considered safe by external espionage, he said. … Cellebrite phone hacking technology is intended for law enforcement agencies. … However, critics have long beaten the company for selling its goods to states with poor human rights records.
Cellebrite’s flagship product is UFED (Universal Forensic Extraction Device), a system that allows authorities to unlock and access the data of any phone in their possession. … The company announced that the analyzer [now] allows customers to decode information and data from Signal.
In an earlier, now deleted version of the blog post, the company went so far as to say, “Decrypting messages and signal attachments has not been an easy task. Extensive research was needed on several different fronts to create new capabilities from scratch. ” [It] included a detailed explanation of how Cellebrite “broke the code”: by reviewing Signal’s own open source protocol and using it against it.
Cellebrite is not currently subject to independent supervision. It conducts its own reviews and maintains its own blacklist of countries to which it is “forbidden” to sell technology, [said] sources with knowledge about the company.
And Nick Farrell adds – “Cellebrite claims it can enter the Signal”:
Signal, owned by Signal Technology Foundation, uses [an] an encryption system called Signal Protocol, which was thought to make it almost impossible for a third party to enter into a conversation or access data shared on the platform. It does this using end-to-end encryption.
According to a Cellebrite announcement last week, “law enforcement agencies are seeing a rapid increase in the adoption of highly encrypted applications, such as Signal, which incorporate capabilities … to stop police from verifying data. … In an earlier, now deleted version of the blog post, the company said: “Decrypting signal messages and attachments has not been easy. Extensive research was needed on several different fronts. “
As? Cellebrite’s Alon Ganor blogged like this before the company broke the juicy pieces – “Cellebrite’s new solution”:
Signal keeps its database encrypted using SqlScipher, so reading it requires a key. We’ve found that purchasing a key requires reading a value from the shared preferences file and decrypting it using a key called “AndroidSecretKey”, which is saved by an Android feature called “Keystore”.
I simply ran SqlCipher on the database with the decrypted key and the values 4096 and 1 for page size and kdf iterations. By doing so, we were able to decrypt the database. … Connecting messages and attachments requires analyzing both the “sms” table and another table called “part”.
After connecting attachment files and messages, we found that attachments are also encrypted. … I searched again in the shared preferences file and found a value under “pref_attachment_encrypted_secret” which has “data” and “iv” fields below. The “data” field contains an encrypted json file, which … contains three keys. … Signal uses AES encryption in CTR mode. We used our AES encryption key in CTR mode and decrypted the attached files.
But to support our brave law enforcement officers, right? Tom McKay and Dhruv Mehrotra expand the story – “Schools buy phone hacking technology”:
These invasive phone hacking tools are not just purchased by police departments. … School districts have been quietly buying these surveillance tools for years.
In March 2020, the Northeast Independent School District, a largely Hispanic district north of San Antonio, wrote a check to Cellebrite for $ 6,695 for “General Supplies.” … Similar accounting records from eight school districts, seven of which are in Texas, [show] that administrators paid $ 11,582 for the controversial surveillance technology. … Together, the districts comprise hundreds of schools, potentially exposing hundreds of thousands of students to invasive mobile phone searches.
Into the  The US Supreme Court has ruled that schools do not necessarily need a warrant to search students, as long as officials have a reasonable belief that a student has violated school law or policy. … Mobile phones are deeply personal items and it is easy to imagine how embarrassing and potentially catastrophic it would be if an administrator or school resource officer used a Cellebrite to download private text messages, photos, social media posts, location history and more. .
Finally, [we] more questions than answers arose. … Who is subject to these searches and who is conducting them? How many students searched for the devices and what were the circumstances? Were students or their parents asked to give any meaningful consent or were phone calls even announced? What to do with the data later?
Will he get people off Signal? Not on nellie, says BAReFO0t:
Make no mistake, Moxie will take care of all this and fix it as soon as possible, if it’s not just a lie for them to break back the Android they run, as everyone else would. … I don’t see how he could have broken the perfect secret before, unless the underlying figure or key exchange had been broken. And that would have far greater implications * than just Signal.
So None Thus puts an unspecified foreign accent:
Welcome to the age of fascism. In fact, you are not guilty of anything, but we will only check your phone to be sure.
Wait. Pause. Ronaldbeal says this is a mountain made of hill:
Codswallop. … Their claim is that if they have access to your unlocked phone, they can break the SQL database in which old messages are stored and read them.
If I or anyone else has access to your unlocked phone, we’ll probably launch the Signal app and be able to see your old messages. No, where do I claim to break messages in transit? A big nothing burger.
What is the old maxim? c1ue tells us in:
To be clear: there is no way to protect something electronically from an attacker with time and money. Phones can be disassembled and the memory of copied SSDs copied – at which point all you need to know is the software architecture and you can run parallel attacks on the cloud against virtual copies.
In the meantime, PPH is confusing:
Why did they announce the capacity? I don’t remember Churchill bragging about breaking the Enigma during World War II.
“So. Damn it. Macabre.”
Trigger warnings: Whirling drummer, half-class, Doctor Who.
Previously on And finally
You read SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Rich organizes the best blog bits, the best forums and the weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail can be directed to @RiCHi or [email protected] Talk to your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E & OE. 30.
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