Is the data on your mobile phone safe?

Leave a comment

He's so dreamy!

Justin Bieber, Esq.! A real lawyer with the same name. Saw the ad on the subway tonight.

I promised to update my previous post on prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pa., asking a judge to make a local school administrator surrender the password to his mobile phone (I’m not saying cell phone anymore) in a criminal sexting case. A specialist in Information Security, or InfoSec, from the University of Pennsylvania, offered a solid read on the situation in my comments section:

If the contents of the cell phone are encrypted (depending on the type of device this can be easy or impossible) then law enforcement has no way to recover data off of the device. They require the password so they can access any data (such as saved SMS messages). There is some argument that the Fifth Amendment protects against such disclosure to the courts. The reality is that we’ve finally reached an era where consumer grade encryption is good enough to foil most law enforcement. It’s why entire countries now forbid Blackberry encryption.

Sounds about right, especially the part about countries, such as India, trying to deal with BlackBerry privacy. Thank you to Justin Klein Keane for providing that conclusive response.

Prosecutors want cell phone password in sexting case


Who is Esperanza Spalding?

This former middle school vice principal with the Justin Bieber haircut (!) is accused of “sexting” two 13-year-old boys about masturbation. Prosecutors in Montgomery County, Pa., have his cell phone, but don’t have his password and have asked a judge to order Charles Hurst, 37, to surrender his password or provide an unencrypted copy of the phone’s data. He claims his cell phone was infected by the “Cabir worm” and wants his own forensic expert to analyze the phone to prove it. Prosecutors says Hurst’s phone was not susceptible to the virus, so his claim is bogus. Anyway, I’m surprised the prosecutors are asking for the password. I just assume that law enforcement is capable of getting data from a phone without a password, but maybe I’m wrong. Or there could be a legal reason why the prosecutors are asking and not a technical one. I don’t have an answer, but I’m meeting some information security types and I’ll ask. In the meantime, here’s a video of Brett Favre getting hit in the groin with a football: