The FBI are putting pressure on Apple to create a new OS that will hack into locked iPhones, and it could be the first step on a very dark path.
The FBI are currently in possession of an Apple iPhone 5C that was used by one of the terrorists involved in last year’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California.
They believe that the device has valuable information about the attack that they currently can’t access because the phone is locked with a pass-code, Mashable reports.
To make matters worse, if the terrorist used the Apple security option that wipes a phone after ten consecutive failed log-in attempts, then the information will be gone forever.
The FBI now want Apple to devise a firmware upgrade that will stop the phone from wiping the data and make it easier to crack the pass-code, although they’ve been reluctant to help law enforcement, fearing potential breaches of privacy.
However, a judge has now ordered Apple to comply.
In a statement released Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said it would be ‘too dangerous’ to obey the court order by building a backdoor into the iPhone, and that while the FBI likely has good intentions creating such a backdoor — even for one specific instance — it could potentially compromise the security of every iPhone user’s data.
However, the ruling orders Apple to provide the FBI with software that will act as a workaround for the iPhone’s built-in security. It’s been suggested Apple should either provide software that bypasses the need for a pass-code entirely or software that allows the FBI to unlock the phone by running an endless combination of pass-codes, essentially using brute force to crack the device.
— Boing Boing (@BoingBoing) February 18, 2016
The brute force method will also require software which disables the iPhone’s auto-erase feature, which will wipe a device after a certain number of unsuccessful attempts at unlocking.
If Apple are forced to obey the court order there are two possible outcomes.
The first is that the FBI unlock the phone and find nothing – this will still be a blow for privacy but the law will be seen as having overreached itself.
Meanwhile, if the device is cracked and it provides valuable intel on IS fighters in Syria or even an American cell then the FBI are vindicated and these back doors will transform from a nearly universally despised idea to a necessary evil to fight our enemies. And that’s how liberty dies with thunderous applause…