The FBI is doing a criminal investigation on a mass murder committed by americans. Some call it a terrorist attack, some don’t. Either way it’s a high profile case for the Obama justice department.
The couple that committed the crimes worked for the county government in California. The investigation has requested and received all of their online records, cloud data, phone records, work data, SMS, banking, housing, and travel receipts.
The one thing the FBI hasn’t been able to get into is their work-assigned iPhones. The now deceased users had enabled full security with encryption on the most recent iOS and did not turn on cloud backup. They put in a 4-pin code like all of us and went about their business.
The FBI now wants to know what business those iPhones might have stored. Makes sense. Problem is they lost their chance to bypass the full lockdown mode, against Apple’s advice, and now they are locked out for at least a very long time, if not forever. It’s estimated it would take 20+ years to crack the iPhone using brute force, due to all of the layers of security iOS has in place in both hardware and software.
So the FBI is now attempting to force Apple to create an insecure version of iOS that could be installed on the phones that would then allow the FBI to crack the phones.
Apple is arguing that doing so would destroy the established security of every iPhone on the planet. They say it’s akin to building the master key to decrypt even the most heavily secured iPhone and they won’t do it. It’s software’s version of cancer, says Tim Cook, and he’ll fight the FBI all the way.
It’s important to note that had the FBI followed Apple’s instructions they could have forced those iPhones to do a cloud backup and then decrypted most of the data. But instead, someone at the FBI ordered the phone be reset with no backup, leaving it in a decrypted, locked, and defensive state, and they now regret that decision.
Apple losing this case could kill the iOS and it’s ability to safely store your financial, credit card, location, and health data. Apple could no longer promise you it’s your data to secure.
The ends do not justify the means.
That user could have nuclear plans encrypted on his iPhone. I support any brute force, seizure or other legal means available to the FBI to get the data.
But the FBI better not be able to compel Apple or any tech company to ship insecure products under the guise of security. The actions of one customer, no matter how heinous, cannot and should not destroy the security of millions of other innocent customers.