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Apple document attempts to explain alleged backdoors in iOS

updated 09:22 am EDT, Wed July 23, 2014

Tools intended strictly for diagnostics, file capture, company says

In another step to address concerns of possible backdoors in iOS, Apple has published a newdocument explaining what three services are intended to do. The first, com.apple.mobile.pcapd, is said to support "diagnostic packet capture from an iOS device to a trusted computer," something useful for "troubleshooting and diagnosing issues with apps on the device as well as enterprise VPN connections." Another, com.apple.mobile.file_relay, "supports limited copying of diagnostic data from a device."

The company adds that file_relay is "separate from user-generated backups, does not have access to all data on the device, and respects iOS Data Protection. Apple engineering uses file_relay on internal devices to qualify customer configurations. AppleCare, with user consent, can also use this tool to gather relevant diagnostic data from users' devices."

Lastly, com.apple.mobile.house_arrest is "used by iTunes to transfer documents to and from an iOS device for apps that support this functionality. This is also used by Xcode to assist in the transfer of test data to a device while an app is in development."

Whether or not this will calm concerns remains to be seen. Forensic software firms are reportedly using the services to help law enforcement, and it's possible that organizations like the NSA are more deeply exploiting the services without Apple's consent. The document may reduce suspicions that Apple has willingly opened up iOS to spying.



By Electronista Staff
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Comments

  1. Inkling

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: 07-25-06

    There's nothing wrong with building in diagnostic backdoors during development. But once development is complete, those backdoors should be removed. That's where Apple's failure lies.

  1. BLAZE_MkIV

    Professional Poster

    Joined: 02-23-00

    Originally Posted by InklingView Post

    There's nothing wrong with building in diagnostic backdoors during development. But once development is complete, those backdoors should be removed. That's where Apple's failure lies.



    Who's development, Apple's or all the people developing software for iOS using actually phones? Its been a long time since any computer was complete when shipped.

  1. DiabloConQueso

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: 06-11-08

    Calling these processes "backdoors" is sensationalism. It's using a loaded word in order to evoke an emotional response rather than usind a word that more aptly describes the actual function. It's similar to calling a simple ear piercing "flesh mutilation" or a friendly punch on the shoulder "intentional and deliberate assault."

    "Backdoor" insinuates that the process or functionality can be used to gain access to the device outside the bounds of what the process is supposed to be limited to do. It also carries with it the idea that the processes have an intentional goal of allowing unauthorized or secret access to a device.

    Call them "exploitable processes" if you want -- it's more accurate.

    Just for kicks Apple should rename some of the music playing processes things like "crack_password" and "secret_analyzer" and "NSAauth_only" and watch the uninformed and ignorant world crap its pants and whip itself up into a frenzy only paralleled by the sensationalism and misinformation surrounding things like the Illuminati, 9/11 truthers, and moon landing deniers.

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