How iCloud helped cvince Paul Manafort

The former manager of the Trump has made a deal to plead guilty to federal charges, to cooperate and to avoid a secd lawsuit. How the years of political fixer abuse of Apple's products and services, and poor operatial security, has helped bring about his downfall.

Paul Manafort, the old political advisor who was president of President Dald Trump in 2016, agreed last week with a plea with Robert S. Mueller, the firm's special lawyer.

Manafort, who was cvicted in August for charges of bank and tax fraud, has agreed to be guilty of e count of cspiracy against the US and a censure of cspiracy to impede justice, CNN reported, referring to court documents.

The agreement means Manafort will avoid a secd trial, which should start this mth, and at the same time agree with Mueller's investigati into Russian interference with the 2016 electis. It also means that Manafort has agreed to withdraw $ 46 milli. To be in different accounts, an amount that up to now is more than the total costs of the Mueller probe itself.

The number of obstacles is mainly due to an unlikely source, the poor operatial security of Manafort with regard to his iCloud account. But that is ly e way that the enthusiasm of Manafort for Apple products has emerged in the business.

"20 Apple devices"

According to a moti submitted by the lawyers of Manafort, when federal agents invaded Manafort's apartment building in July 2017, they grabbed a large amount of electric devices, including at least 7 iPods.

The document mentied that the robbery csisted of seven iPods, four iPhes, e MacBook Air, e iMac (including e Solid State Drive (SSD) and e hard drive (HDD)), two iPads and several iPods and iPhes, which are mentied separately . The moti argued that certain devices were not used properly and that the Special Counsel promised not to introduce any evidence from the iPod's & # 39; s in this case.

The natial security journalist, Marcy Wheeler, noted a semantic incsistency that the counsel's office had agreed not to use the iPod evidence "in this case," while he made no other promise.

Now that Manafort has agreed to work "fully, truthfully, completely and openly" and agrees to transfer all relevant documents and materials, we can very well find out exactly what exactly was those iPods.

However, it is Manafort's use of iCloud that has probably brought him even more problems.

The ibloud-backup blunder

In June, after Manafort had been indicted several times and released bail while awaiting the first of two planned trials, he was jailed after being beaten with additial accusatis of testimy. Manafort, according to prosecutors, had wrgly ctacted two potential witnesses via WhatsApp. That Manafort had de that was discovered by the FBI through an unlikely source: his iCloud account. It turned out that Manafort had backed up his encrypted WhatsApp messages to an unencrypted iCloud account, which had given researchers a court order to review.

Now we know that Manafort has paid the price. The census of witnesses, which he pleaded Friday, was directly cnected with his iCloud blunder.

Most of the coverage in the technical press showed how untidy Manafort had been with its operatial security, and seemed to commit crimes easily found through unencrypted communicatis.

"What about San Bernardino?"

But in the following mths, an alternative point of discussi arose: that Apple had de something inappropriate by giving the FBI and Mueller probe access to Manafort's iCloud account. Furthermore, it was argued that Apple is guilty of hypocrisy, in the sense that they refused in a famous way to create a back door for unlocking the iPhe that belged to e of the shooters in the terrorist attack of San Bernardino.

This visi was most clearly expressed in a Fox news segment of commentator Steve Hilt, aired August 10.

In that show Hilt drove a cspiracy theory that Apple's Tim Cook – as part of "the sw" – helped Mueller to "screw" Paul Manafort, and thus the president. Proof? Mueller previously worked for a law firm that represented Apple. And Apple had refused in 2016 to unlock the iPhe that belged to e of the accused San Bernardino terrorists.

"Another of [Mueller’s] -FBI customers were Apple, & Hilt said. & # 39; Which, amg other things, diligently mitors its reputati for mitoring the privacy of users. The pompous, hypocritical and hypocritical CEO Tim Cook said that privacy is a human right, it is a civil freedom. "

Hilt ctinued to ignore Apple for refusing to comply with the order to open the iPhe in the San Bernardino case and to accuse them with hypocrisy for complying with a court order in the Manafort case.

"[Mueller] Apple asks for private informati from its iCloud service, informati regarding e Paul Manafort. So what does Mr. Privacy, Tim Cook? Certainly Robert, we will hand it over. The Apple iCloud data directly led to criminal charges against Paul Manafort. That's how it works – for Apple, for Mueller, for all these sw-beings. "

This theory might ctain a lot of holes.

"No collusi"

The lawful order, signed by a judge, for Paul Manafort's iCloud data was not an excessive catch or violati of civil rights. It was a completely incspicuous legal maneuver, e that provided clear evidence of a federal crime to which Manafort has now pleaded guilty, algside other crimes of which he has been cvicted. Nor does it appear that the Manafort legal team has ever challenged the legality or legitimacy of the iCloud order.

When a customer signs up for iCloud, they agree that law enforcement agencies can get an informati order there. It is here in the iCloud Terms of Service, to which Manafort and every other iCloud user agree:

"You acknowledge and agree that Apple may, without liability to you, csult, use, store and / or disclose your account informati and ctent to law enforcement agencies, government officials and / or any third party, to Apple believe that this is reasably necessary or appropriate if legally required to do so or if Apple believes in good faith that such access, use, disclosure or storage is reasably necessary to: (a) comply with a legal process or request. "

Apple has specific policies for compliance with subpoenas for iCloud data. In this case, as in most comparable countries, the Mueller team requested a court order to gain access to a customer's iCloud data. When that happens, getting the data from Apple is not a matter of a special favor – they are legally required to comply. It is completely routine and not something that requires a special interventi from Robert Mueller to Tim Cook. It is no different than that a local police department has a possible reas to search a search warrant for drugs or illegal weaps and then find them.

Mueller indeed worked for Wilmer Hale, the law firm that Apple has been representing for many years, especially in cnecti with his lengthy patent litigati with Samsung. But it is unclear whether Mueller ever did persal work for Apple and Mueller's name has certainly never been closely linked to a lawsuit, trial or other important legal dispute involving the company.

As far as the comparis with San Bernardino is ccerned, that case csisted of an entirely different set of circumstances and problems. In that case, Apple was asked to develop a soluti to allow law enforcement agencies to unlock a locked iPhe. An extraordinary measure to bypass its own security to circumvent an encrypted phe is certainly very different from a request for unencrypted iCloud data.

There is another, rather big, incsistency in Steve Hilt's argument about Manafort and iCloud. August 10, the same night that that segment was broadcast, Cook was in New Jersey – a dinner with President Trump and the first lady. In fact, in the last few years, Cook has almost certainly spent more time with the president where he is said to be cspiring than ever with Robert Mueller.

Lesss of autumn

There are several lesss that ordinary users of iCloud learn from what happened to Manafort. First, do not commit federal crimes. Secd, if you are going to commit federal crimes, do not take up a job as high-profile as caign chief of a candidate for President of the United States. But if you feel compelled to do both, do not back up the evidence of your crimes your persal iCloud account.

© Appleinsider

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