Expert: iPhone 3GS crypto is easily crackable

Corporations should think twice about using the iPhone 3GS, says expert who shows how easy it is to crack the encryption on the device.

Elinor Mills Former Staff Writer
Elinor Mills covers Internet security and privacy. She joined CNET News in 2005 after working as a foreign correspondent for Reuters in Portugal and writing for The Industry Standard, the IDG News Service and the Associated Press.
Elinor Mills

The encryption functionality of the iPhone 3GS is so easy to crack that it is essentially "broken" as far as protecting sensitive personal data like credit card and social security numbers, according to a forensics expert and iPhone developer.

"I don't think any of us [developers] have ever seen encryption implemented so poorly before, which is why it's hard to describe why it's such a big threat to security," Jonathan Zdziarski told Wired.

With physical access to a 3GS iPhone and some free software data can be extracted within two minutes and an image of the entire raw disk in about 45 minutes, he said. The iPhone decrypts the data on its own once the extraction has begun, he explains in a video demonstration.

Apple has been touting the encryption and other features to entice corporate users to the device. And it seems to be working. Nearly 20 percent of Fortune 100 companies have purchased 10,000 or more iPhones per company, the company said on its financial results conference call on Tuesday.