Apple has been steadily improving iOS security and management capabilities, adding on-device encryption, securing each device's unique AES encryption key, and adding programming interfaces for use by mobile device management (MDM) software vendors.
MIT's Technology Review had an assessment of Apple's iOS security evolution in August 2012. "Technologies the company has adopted protect Apple customers' content so well that in many situations it's impossible for law enforcement to perform forensic examinations of devices seized from criminals," according to the story.
But some of that protection hinges on making sure different parts of the security architecture are in sync, according to a December 2011 assessment by viaForensics, a digital security firm in Oak Park, Ill. "iOS provides and additional layer of encryption for files which implement their Data Protection APIs," notes a blog post at the company's website. "This additional encryption uses the device passcode as a component of the encryption keys and as such forensic examinations which simply bypass the passcode will not recover the data. [But] The additional protection is only applied if the developer enables the Data Protection APIs so most third-party apps, Web cache and other system data are usually recoverable."
Earlier this year, Apple published a whitepaper on its iOS security architecture.
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