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New tool allows the government to unlock your phone

Where do you stand when it comes to law enforcement breaking into a suspect’s gadget? There’s a fine line between security and privacy.

You might remember this was a pretty big issue a couple years ago. That’s when the FBI was trying to force Apple to help break into the iPhone recovered from an alleged shooter in San Bernardino, CA. In that case, the FBI found another way to extract the data they were after from the iPhone.

But the question remains, does law enforcement have the right to break into your gadget without consent? Now, there’s a new tool that would allow the government, or potentially hackers, to unlock your phone even without your consent.

Does this tool put your privacy at risk?

We’re talking about a tool being advertised to law enforcement agencies across the globe by a company called Cellebrite. The company claims to have found a way to unlock all types of gadgets including smartphones, tablets, and smartwatches without needing passwords, or PIN codes.

It even claims that it can unlock iPhones with the tool. That’s especially interesting since Apple has strong security built-in that has prevented the likes of the FBI from breaking into them.

According to Cellebrite, as long as the Apple gadget is running iOS 5 or newer, it can unlock it. The firm claims that in recent months it has developed unlocking techniques for iOS 11 that can break the security of Apple devices and operating systems.

Apple gadgets that are able to be unlocked include the iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPod touch. That is if they’re running iOS 5 to iOS 11.

The company’s sales brochure reads, “Cellebrite advanced unlocking services provide law enforcement agencies with sensitive, cutting-edge abilities directly from the Cellebrite security research labs. These customized services are delivered by digital forensic technology experts through a network of secure Cellebrite forensic labs located around the world.”

If law enforcement were to use this feature, they would have to send the confiscated device to one of Cellebrite’s labs. The company unlocks the gadget in its lab and turns it over to law enforcement so they can inspect the data.

U.S. law enforcement has already used this technology

Apparently, this technology has already been used in the U.S. A Michigan search warrant shows that police there have tried it out.

It was used to investigate a suspect in a weapons trafficking case. No further details are available on that case at this time.

Have a question about privacy or anything dealing with tech? Kim has your answer! Click here to send Kim a question, she may use it and answer it on her radio show.

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In other news, is Amazon’s Echo exposing your kids to explicit music?

Have you joined the trend like many others who are turning their place into a “smart home?” It’s so common now it’s opened up a world of virtual assistants. Instead of tapping an app to play your music, then another app to put on your lights, and yet another to turn down the thermostat, you can just do all that from a single home hub. One of the most popular virtual assistants is Amazon’s Alexa. Unfortunately, there’s an issue with Alexa that could make it unsuitable for kids. Click here to find out why you might want to think twice before letting kids have Alexa play their favorite songs.

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