In recent news, there has been much controversy over the saga between multi-billion pound technology giant Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, arguably two of the largest corporations in history.
The situation is as follows. The FBI have uncovered the mobile phone of one of the gunmen from the San Bernardino shootings in December, and have asked Apple to create a backdoor to the phone so they can access the encrypted files within. Apple have refused to comply with the Bureau and this has sparked a debate as to whether the company should or should not work with the FBI to try and find evidence on the suspect’s phone.
It has been reported that the FBI want a tool or program that can unlock and expose any file on any iPhone, but this simply isn’t the case. They have asked Apple to do the following; as quoted from the court documents:
- ‘bypass or erase the auto-erase function’
Apple devices have an option to erase all data on the device after a number of consecutive password guesses, which they would like removed.
- ‘submit passcodes to the subject device electronically’
The four-digit passcode set on the subject phone has 10,000 possible combinations, which the FBI would like to submit electronically. This means all of the possible passcodes could be fired through in minutes, possibly seconds.
- ‘not introduce any possible delay’
Another common feature of Apple devices is that they create a delay between incorrect passcodes to prevent guessing. This must be removed according to the FBI.
- ‘conduct the process while Apple retains the SIF’
Interestingly, the FBI is happy to complete the process with Apple retaining all of the files and knowledge to complete the above. In other words, they are happy for this to be a one-off situation.
Apple are declining the offer to grant the FBI’s wishes. They issued a statement via their website, conveying the point that they pride themselves in the security they provide their customers. Any breach of this, including in a situation like this one, would mean that the consumers would lose confidence in Apple keeping their files safe from anyone. Other large technology companies such as Google have supported Apple in their reluctance to disclose user information or create intentional backdoors in software.
Be sure to follow the events on BBC News, where consistent updates are provided.