Federal agents ask Facebook to install a backdoor in Messenger

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According to media reports, FBI backdoor search has reached the Facebook service

Cyber security organization experts have spoken about the pressure exerted by federal authorities over developers about making their software accessible to intelligence agencies in criminal cases investigation. “No one said police work would be easy. Undermining the security of hundreds of millions of users to investigate a few cases is ridiculous”, said Brad Smith, cyber security specialist.

This statement refers to a lawsuit by the Department of Justice against Apple that sought to force the tech company to build a background version of their iOS mobile operating system, to help FBI research on San Bernardino shootings. Shortly thereafter, the FBI left the case, after an external contractor helped them unlock an iPhone 5c used by one of the deceased shooters.

Since then, the legal battle and the questions related to the case have been unresolved.

Anyways, new evidence suggests that the Justice Department has continued its attempts to force technology vendors to build backdoors on their products and services.

The latest of these attempts, according to cyber security organization experts from the International Institute of Cyber Security, comes from a case presented by the Department of Justice against Facebook in the Federal Court of California, which aims to force Facebook to create a specially crafted version of its Messenger app, so the FBI can listen to a suspect’s voice conversations.

Although the documents relating to the case remain sealed, three sources have mentioned that Facebook would have come to court to block the government’s request. On Tuesday, international media reported that the Government has requested that Facebook be accused of contempt for the FBI request. This seems to be related to a research on the Mara Salvatrucha group.

This street gang with international presence has around 10K members in the US, where it remains an unresolved issue. Trump’s administration regularly refers to this group in its quest to implement more severe immigration policies.

This case is a sign that the Justice Department is still looking for ways to monitor end-to-end encrypted messaging services. If the US government were favored, this case could be used in future scenarios to force other companies to moderate the encryption of their messaging services.

Meanwhile, the FBI continues to argue that it should be granted with access to any device, as long as it has a legal order. In January, for example, FBI cyber security organization teams argued that manufacturers should include backdoors in devices launched to sale.

Cyber security organization expert William H. Murray accused the FBI of hiding its true motives. “This is a source of evidence that didn’t even exist 10 years ago”, he said about smartphones. For the cybersecurity expert, while backdoors exclusively designed for government- use area good idea, just in theory. In practice, this means that any system would be weakened and vulnerable for attacks.