Apple protects iPhone security despite FBI’s wishes

by Madeline Morrisson – Copy Editor

After the San Bernardino shooting, law enforcement was left with many clues to piece together the events and motive for the crime. One of these clues was an i-Phone that belonged to one of the shooters. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) first requested, then ordered Apple, via the All Writs Act, to help them go through the security of the i-Phone in order to collect the information that may be on it by creating a new version of iOS. However, Apple feels that this would compromise the security of all Apple products and services, which they have vowed to not do. The FBI is not justified in asking Apple to create a possible security flaw in all of their products.

The FBI hopes that getting onto the i-Phone will allow them recover information that will fill in 18 minutes of time that were before the shooting. The phone could also hold information about anyone the shooters contacted.  Law enforcement fear that the shooters may have had connections to ISIS, or other extremists within the United States.

Back when the issue with the i-Phone first came to light, Apple had suggested that the FBI connect the phone to a Wifi network that the phone knew, which would have allowed the rest of the phone data to upload to the iCloud. Instead the FBI pulled all the data they could from the iCloud, and then changed the password on the iCloud. This locked all of the data that was not yet on the iCloud onto the i-Phone, which has the normal four digit pin on it for security.

This pin is the main security feature that the FBI needs to get around. Messing up this pin 10 times wipes all the data on the phone permanently.  To circumvent this feature, the FBI has requested that Apple build an entirely new version of iOS that could be loaded onto the i-Phone. The new version of iOS would remove the wiping feature, allowing the FBI to guess an infinite number of pins with no danger of losing the information forever.

If the FBI had the pin for the i-Phone, then getting information from the i-Phone would be no different from them getting a search warrant. Creating a new version of iOS, to bypass the security features sounds like a good idea in theory. Apple CEO Tim Cook released a statement on the issue, stating that “… the FBI wants [Apple] to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.” The fear is that a new version of iOS could get leaked to the general public, causing a security weakness in all Apple products. Accessing information, which may not even effect the investigation, does not seem worth compromising the security of all Apple products. Cook likened creating a new version of iOS to a master key for everything with a lock, when you only need to get into one place.

Due to how data encryption works, it may not be possible to just get onto this one i-Phone. The FBI should be willing to work with Apple to find alternate solutions, to avoid having to create the backdoor. Also, creating a backdoor in this case could set a precedent for legal cases in the future. Apple should not be required to compromise their security and the security of their customers, especially when the FBI had a way to get the data they needed and squandered it.

3 Comment

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    1. Mira says: Reply

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  2. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to produce a great article… but what can I say… I put things off a lot and don’t manage to get anything done.

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