It’s been a long time coming, but we finally know why the FBI has been using computers to analyze encrypted files for decades.
In a recent blog post, the bureau’s cybercrime division revealed that it had been using a variant of a technique called “zero-day” exploits to break into iPhones for decades without alerting Apple, even though the company is the default data-access method for the device.
The technique, known as “zero day” attacks, is a relatively new form of computer hacking that relies on a flaw in the software that allows an attacker to gain access to the device, bypassing the user’s own protections.
The FBI, the NSA, and the Department of Homeland Security have all employed the same flaw for decades, and it has long been used by foreign governments to gain remote access to sensitive data.
In the early days of the zero-day exploits, there were a few companies that were capable of running the code and intercepting the traffic.
But by the mid-2000s, there was a glut of vendors and vulnerabilities that forced vendors to abandon the technology, leaving the FBI to use a more vulnerable version of the exploit.
“In the mid 2000s, a handful of companies were producing devices that were not as secure as the FBI’s devices,” the bureau wrote.
“For the most part, those devices did not have zero day vulnerabilities.”
As a result, the FBI began using zero-days to bypass Apple’s data-security protections, bypass Apple entirely, and steal data from iPhone backups.
As Ars reported back in 2011, the techniques have been around for at least 10 years.
“The FBI used this flaw in a few devices before the software went out of production in 2013,” according to the bureau.
“After that, they started using a version of this attack that had been around since at least 2007.”
The FBI has long used exploits to bypass data security measures.
The bureau has been the target of several attacks in recent years, including the Sony hack, the Target hack, and a massive breach of the government’s National Security Agency.
In an earlier blog post from 2015, the director of the bureau revealed that the agency has been exploiting vulnerabilities in Apple devices for years.
As a consequence, it has been able to hack into the devices, steal sensitive data, and take screenshots of the devices’ internal data and passwords.
But there’s one exception to the rule: Apple’s software, the Safari browser.
“Apple’s Safari browser has been used for more than a decade by the FBI, NSA, the CIA, and other foreign intelligence services,” the FBI wrote.
And because Apple is the “default data-entry method for most devices,” Apple’s security software is more secure than any other method the FBI can use.
The reason is simple: the Safari operating system can run code that is completely secure from any computer running any software, regardless of the operating system’s software license.
But even though this is true, the attack is so effective that the FBI was able to gain a “backdoor” to the operating systems of Apple devices.
“We have not received any reports of an Apple device being compromised, but based on our experience with the FBI exploits and the way they were being used, we have a pretty good idea that they have been,” the cybercrime section of the FBI explained.
“While it is still unknown what exploits the FBI used, based on the information we have, we know the attack was able gain access from a remote Apple device to all data stored on that device.”
The technique used by the bureau to bypass the data-secure protections on Apple devices, known in the industry as “Zero Day,” was first revealed in a 2015 blog post.
The malware was written by the Chinese company Guccifer 2.0, who claimed responsibility for the breach.
He wrote that he was a hacker working for a government agency and that he had access to Apple devices from a Chinese company called Sesame Technologies.
“My work is to find vulnerabilities in the Apple Operating System,” he wrote.
After the FBI discovered Guccritere 2..0’s exploits, the agency launched an investigation into his work.
According to the report, Guccriter 2.2 was able get inside the devices of two people, including a former FBI agent and a former CIA agent.
In addition to accessing encrypted files, Gucci2.2 used the same technique to hack a device belonging to a contractor in Texas, which allowed the hacker to gain full control of the computer and access to data stored in the device itself.
“This is a technique used to gain unauthorized access to encrypted data in Apple products,” the report stated.
“It exploits a flaw found in Apple software and the default Apple user settings to allow the attacker to execute arbitrary code on the device.”
This attack has been around long enough that it has its own name: the “Zero day” attack.
The report also provided some background on the Zero day exploits, noting that the