Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Apple refuses to create backdoor for iPhones - even for San Bernardino shooter

How valuable is one's privacy? That's something that is about to receive even bigger headlines, as Apple has refused to create a backdoor to access an iPhone, as ordered by a court at FBI's request.

FBI wants access to the iPhone 5C belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, the San Bernardino shooter, and it has requested that Apple creates a special tool that bypasses its security systems. More precisely, the FBI wants to be able to brute-force its way through into the iPhone, trying out thousands of codes per second, once Apple allows them to enter PIN codes electronically (so it won't need to be tapped on screen), and removes the progressive delays after each failed attempt, as well as the wipe security measure that can erase the iPhone after too many failed attempts.

This is where Apple is drawing the line. After helping the FBI in all the ways it can, Apple says this request is now putting them in a slippery slope that would put every user at risk. Once such a tool exists, it would be just a matter of time till it would be requested more and more frequently, till it finally got in the hands of the FBI and other organizations (for this case, the FBI says the tool should only work on this specific iPhone, and that it wouldn't leave Apple's campus). And once that door is opened, it's easy to predict what would come next: adding remote surveillance modes that would turn iPhone into listening devices, and all other sorts of privacy nightmare one can think of.

So... instead of asking if Apple is helping a "terrorist" by not helping the FBI, maybe the right question to ask is if Apple isn't just helping everyone else not to be treated like one.

Kind of awkward that this wouldn't be happening should the shooter have an iPhone 5S or newer iPhone instead of an iPhone 5c, as these devices with  Secure Enclave would make it technically "impossible" to comply with such requests. (That's not the case with an iPhone 5C however...)

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