Update at the end.
It likely comes as a surprise to most people that the FBI can’t crack anyone’s Apple iPhone security but that is now widely known thanks to the FBI’s case against Apple in the San Bernardino terror case.
The FBI wants Apple to provide them with their security secrets so they can open the phone of one of the San Bernardino killers.
The FBI could give the phone to Apple to try to open it but they won’t do that because this case was planned to set precedent.
Apple says they don’t have the software to open the phone so the FBI is ordering them to develop the software to do so.
The US government is forcing a company to develop a product that makes their products vulnerable to hacking and law enforcement surveillance.
On February 16th, a federal judge ordered Apple to assist the FBI in accessing the phone. Apple refused to comply. The DoJ filed a motion to compel Apple to comply with FBI order on Friday.
The US government is asking for greater access to Apple’s software than even the Chinese government, an Apple executive has said, as the company resists the order.
The company’s executive said that the Justice Department’s request was so unprecedented that no other country – specifically mentioning China – had asked for similar access. That comes following reports that the country, a huge market for Apple, has asked to inspect western technology products for “security”.
Apple argues that to cede to the FBI demands would set a legal precedent that could force it to hack a suspect’s phone each time authorities face a warrant. It argues that would violate user trust, privacy norms and weaken the core security of the company’s flagship smartphone.
Defiantly, the company has promised to continue to add security features to their phones.
Apple’s battle with the FBI goes back to the fall of 2014, when Apple expanded the default use of encryption on its newer iPhones. At the time, it said it would no longer be able to retrieve passcodes used to unlock phones for federal agents.
The FBI can’t force Apple to give it the passcode so, instead, they persuaded a judge to order Apple to make it easier to guess the passcode by weakening other countermeasures.
What is really peculiar is that after the San Bernardino terror shooting, the San Bernardino County staff tried to access Farook’s iCloud account and reset his password. This triggered Apple security measures which made it impossible to back put he phone.
Why would they have done that?
Some things are just beyond the reach of the Federal government, like listening in on our conversations in our living room. Perhaps this is too.
The NYPD has already said they want access to iPhone security as well.
It wasn’t the San Bernardino county workers who reset the phone, it was the FBI.
The FBI issued a statement on Sunday.
“FBI investigators worked cooperatively with the county of San Bernardino in order to exploit crucial data contained in the iCloud account associated with a county-issued iPhone that was assigned to the terror suspect, Syed Rizwan Farook.”