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FBI forensic expert calls Apple 'evil genius' for strengthening iPhone encryption

FBI officials continue their attack on Apple's iPhone encryption, with the latest remarks against the company's moves coming from a senior forensics examiner — and only one day after similar remarks were made by the FBI director.

At the International Conference on Cyber Security, the FBI's Stephen Flatley called Apple "jerks" and akin to an "evil genius" with moves that the company has made to secure iPhones for users. In the same interview, Flatley lauded penetration company Cellebrite — known for selling iPhone intrusion tools to law enforcement.

Flatley cited Apple's dramatic increase to hash changes from 10,000 to 10,000,000 which meant that the FBI's password attempt timetable went from 45 tries every second to one every 18 seconds with a brute force attack. Flatley said that crack time "went from two days to two months" as a result of Apple's changes.

Flatley is the New York FBI office's senior forensic examiner. Ostensibly, his talk about about the challenges of proper execution and management of one of the largest forensic labs in the world, and not specifically about Apple's iPhone encryption.

The timing of the remarks collected by Motherboard on Wednesday may not be coincidental. They were made the day after FBI Director Christopher Wray amped up law enforcement's diatribe against smart phone encryption, saying that he believed that secure encryption could still have a back door for law enforcement.

Wray said at the same event that in fiscal year 2017, the FBI was unabel to access the data on 7,775 devices using available tools, like the ones from Cellebrite.

"For many years, we have used encryption to protect our customers' personal data because we believe it's the only way to keep their information safe," Apple has said for almost two years, in the wake of the San Bernardino shooting investigation. "We have even put that data out of our own reach, because we believe the contents of your iPhone are none of our business."