Alas, the software didn’t match the rigour of the hardware – something that became a motif in my testing. In fact, I uncovered one horrendous security flaw which, if left unfixed, undoes much of the device’s secure enterprise credibility.It goes like this. Unlike an Android phone or an iPhone, an Elite x3 can be configured without a password. After some hours, it may advise you to add one, but bear in mind that by default all it takes is a swipe to unlock the device. Now suppose you want to add a fingerprint. (It isn’t clear where in Settings that lives – but let that pass for now.) You simply go ahead and enrol.By now you may suppose your device is reasonably secure and locked down. But it isn’t. If the Elite x3 thinks you’ve been trying to unlock it using an enrolled fingerprint (and it can reach that conclusion simply from the phone rolling around in your pocket), it will tell you it has locked you out – but in reality it has reverted to swipe-to-unlock. Yes, you read that correctly. Note that one vital step has been omitted from Microsoft’s setup sequence: it doesn’t ask for a fallback PIN to unlock the device… so it “falls back” to swipe-to-unlock.On Sunday night, after a week of sending US elections spinning and Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton tumbling in polls, FBI director Michael Comey backed off and wrote to Congressional committee chairs that after working round the clock to process a large volume of emails found on a laptop seized a month ago from accused *** pest Anthony Weiner, the Fed's geeks quickly failed to find anything new – as The Register predicted two days ago..
We made that assertion after Comey last week wrote to committee chairs saying that he cannot predict how long it will take to complete this. But the FBI failed to point out that of 650,000 emails apparently found on the laptop, a figure offered up to US media, at least 95 per cent could not possibly be relevant as they would be personal material related to Weiner alone.The agency refused to admit to The Register that it was forensically inevitable that the job of finding which mails needed further scrutiny would be trivially easy on modern forensic search systems. We're confident it was probably completed last Monday morning.All week, other FBI voices appear to have been leaking to help along an anti-Clinton agenda, spinning that the checking job would extend well beyond the election of the new President, along with a sheaf of other non-stories.On Saturday, CNN and then Britain's Daily Mail breathlessly revealed that the FBI had indeed found Clinton-related emails in their search. Yes, folks, and that's why the FBI went to court in the first place to get a new search warrant, to replace one that was limited to investigating Weiner.
On Sunday morning CNN and then the Daily Mail had the further (non) shock revelation that FBI sources had told former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani that Clinton-related emails has been found, even before the new warrant was requested. No news there, either.We reviewed all of the communications that were to or from Hillary Clinton while she was Secretary of State (form 2009 to 2013), he said. In consequence, the agency had not changed our conclusions from when the Bureau's year-long investigation of Clinton's use of a private email server wound up last July.The FBI's previous conclusion was that there was no case for criminal proceedings against Hillary Clinton or her staff.Singing to a slightly different tune on Sunday evening, CNN's FBI sources said that the thousands of new emails were mostly personal and duplicates of what had already been seen. The laptop which was found was about a decade old with lots of personal content on it not relevant to the investigation, according to a further one CNN source.The FBI have now played both sides in the election. That's not new. Few in Washington have forgotten the massive secret files on U.S. politicos kept by powerful former FBI director Edgar Hoover . Then President Richard Nixon wanted the files, but they went instead to FBI deputy W. Mark Felt. Two years later, Felt tilted the whole of US politics and helped bring down Nixon down as Bob Woodward's secret source, Deep Throat.
Thirty years later, secret and illegal directives given by President Bush after 9/11 empowered the FBI to dig into and collect American's personal communications of all types. The power of the agency and its secret files then grew exponentially. Forcing the resignation of CIA director David Petraeus five years ago 2012 was the most prominent victim of those new powers.So when Trump spouted last Monday that this was bigger than Watergate, in a sense he might be right. But not Watergate as he meant it. Analysis Since igniting a political firestorm and triggering major changes in US presidential voting intentions by revealing some emails passing through Hillary Clinton's private email server had been found in an unrelated criminal investigation, the FBI has gone to ground.The US criminal investigation bureau has repeatedly refused to answer basic media questions about simple and long-established computer forensic procedures.But the math, based on detailed information previously released by the FBI, points to the conclusion that the agency will have known by Monday morning exactly how many emails found in a laptop computer seized a month ago from disgraced former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner had come from, gone to, or been copied on from the Clinton server, and how many, if any, could contain possibly classified information not already checked.
The agency appears to have pushed a completely misleading number out to US media outlets, suggesting that 650,000 emails had to be checked.Comey told Congress: The FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant. I cannot predict how long it will take to complete this additional work.But the FBI did not point out that of the 650,000 emails mentioned to the US media, 95 per cent could not possibly be relevant.Comey's letter to Congressional leaders, which started the whole debacle, explained that the agency could not officially look at or report on the emails without obtaining a specific new warrant. The letter implicitly acknowledged that the agency already had copies of all the mails on its computer systems (which would normally automatically have been indexed by forensic software), bringing the Clinton connection to light.To find out how many emails on the laptop were relevant would have taken seconds, according to e-discovery software industry experts. To then find out how many of those – if any – the FBI had not seen in its previous investigation would, at most, have taken minutes. Standard methods are to take and match cryptographic hashes of email files (which proves the email files identical, if the hashes match), or to match metadata and then textual content.The FBI's previous, year-long investigation into the private Clinton server finished in July, when director James B Comey reported that: We cannot find a case that would support bringing criminal charges.
As only 110 of 30,490 official emails previously examined by the FBI were found to contain classified government information, the number of previously unseen mails that had strayed onto Weiner's laptop is likely to range from zero to a few tens.The laptop at the heart of the election controversy was seized on October 3 from former Congressman Weiner after a then-15-year-old girl from North Carolina had complained of ***ting. The alleged victim, now 16, has now complained vociferously that Comey had irresponsibly forced her identity into the open, exposed her to continual and continuing media harassment, and caused the abuse to continue.You have assisted him in further victimizing me on every news outlet. I can only assume that you saw an opportunity for political propaganda, she said.Standard forensic procedures for e-discovery in civil and criminal investigations is to make a certifiable digital copy of all media immediately after getting access, and immediately to analyse and index the contents, including buried metadata and email attachments.
The software utilised in these investigations is used to handling and sifting big data, scaling up to tens of millions of files. The global e-discovery market in software systems and services is now worth an estimated $1bn, with many companies offering sophisticated email analysis add-on systems to spot, map, network and visualise chaining, duplicates, and to provide searchable indexes.The FBI have long been leaders in this business. As revealed by Edward Snowden, the FBI has been operating the PRISM and other systems for over ten years from its Digital Intercept Technology Unit (DITU) at its sprawling Quantico, Virginia base. The unit annually ingests and analyses billions of emails intercepted from US optical fibre cables or passed on by telecommunications operators. The critical part of the system's front end, obviously, is to spot email addresses associated with intelligence targets.But when it came to the debate, the agency's computer teams had apparently regressed to the digital stone age. The New York Times reported: The FBI needed custom software to allow them to read Mr Weiner's emails without viewing hers. But building that program took two weeks.
Industry experts used to massive email searches in large civil cases have been scathing about the idea that the FBI's job is difficult with modern tools. Linda Sharp of ZL Technologies said: In the scheme of e-discovery, 60,000 documents is nothing. We're used to seeing documents in the tens of millions of documents, terabytes of data.Journalists have also become users of high-end e-discovery software to handle document dumps in recent high profile reports, such as the Panama Papers and Offshoreleaks investigations (Duncan worked as the data manager for the Offshoreleaks project of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists). In the Offshoreleaks investigation in 2013, two million emails were analysed and catalogued, and made available to international journalism teams on a secure server. To find all emails from a domain takes seconds, once the gruntwork of indexing is complete – which had previously been done for Weiner's computer, to look for ***ting evidence.