Wikimedia CommonsEncryption used in Apple’s iMessage chat service has stymied attempts by federal drug enforcement agents to eavesdrop on suspects’ conversations, an internal government document reveals.

An internal Drug Enforcement Administration document discusses a February 2013 criminal investigation and warns that because of the use of encryption, “it is impossible to intercept iMessages between two Apple devices” even with a court order approved by a federal judge.

The DEA’s warning, marked “law enforcement sensitive,” is the most detailed example to date of the technological obstacles — FBI director Robert Mueller has called it the “Going Dark” problem — that police face when attempting to conduct court-authorized surveillance on non-traditional forms of communication.

Apple has disclosed little about how iMessage works, but a partial analysis sheds some light on the protocol. Matthew Green, a cryptographer and research professor at Johns Hopkins Univ., has written that because iMessage has “lots of moving parts,” there are plenty of places where things could go wrong. Green said that Apple “may be able to substantially undercut the security of the protocol” — by, perhaps, taking advantage of its position during the creation of the secure channel to copy a duplicate set of messages for law enforcement.

Apple’s iMessage Encryption Trips Up Surveillance | DFI News.

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