Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is facing new allegations of tampering with witnesses who may testify against him — and the way he got caught is utterly humiliating.
As Gizmodo reports, Manafort tried to use encrypted messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram as a way to send potentially incriminating messages without a chance of them getting intercepted by law enforcement officials.
There was just one problem with Manafort’s scheme, however: He apparently had his encrypted messages over these apps backed up through Apple’s iCloud service. This is a problem because it seems that federal agents have a search warrant to conduct surveillance of Manafort’s iCloud data, and special counsel Robert Mueller’s office cited WhatsApp messages obtained via his iCloud account as evidence against him.
Cloud computing services such as iCloud, Google Drive and DropBox can automatically back up files that you create on your devices to a web storage space where you can access them from other web-connected devices.
This means that if you back up encrypted messages sent to other people through one of these services, anyone who has access to your cloud account can view them — even though they were encrypted when you sent them to someone else.
“WhatsApp allows both manual and automatic scheduled backups to iCloud, though it’s not clear what settings Manafort may have had on his device,” Gizmodo explains. “As WhatsApp notes on its website, ‘Media and messages you back up aren’t protected by WhatsApp end-to-end encryption while in iCloud.'”