The U.S. government’s fight with Apple could backfire big time

“Ever since a court ordered Apple to provide the FBI access to an iPhone owned by one of the San Bernardino shooters, I have been talking to various legal authorities and Washington insiders to get a real-world sense of how this could play out,’ Tim Bajarin writes for PC Magazine.

“Clearly, Apple is highly committed to its position; Tim Cook told ABC that it’s willing to take this to the Supreme Court if needed,” Bajarin writes. “In the FBI’s mind, it’s a one-off situation that will gain the public’s support because of the terrorism connection. But I get a sense that while the FBI did expect Apple to appeal, it did not anticipate that Apple would use this case to champion the importance of personal privacy and security and take it to the Supreme Court.”

“I am getting a sense from people in the know that the FBI may have bit off more than it could chew with this legal maneuver,” Bajarin writes. “It might even end up being counterproductive, as it will force government officials and the higher court to, at the very least, give it and us more precise rules and laws on this critical issue.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: It also compels Apple to make iOS even more secure. How about encrypted iCloud backups next, Apple?

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

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  1. How about the govenment gets sued and bancripted at the end of the day by Apple shareholders for deliberate interference with prospective economic advantage?

  2. Sooner or later, EVERYTHING, will be encrypted.

    Consumers and businesses will become saturated with “hacking” stories and privacy breaches to the point that every application will need good encryption by default.

    This will also force apps out of business which don’t have ‘security.’ (I’m speaking to you Adobe !!!)

  3. we can only hope that sooner, rather than later, the fbi will heed the growing chorus of former and current high ranking officials with the cia and nsa and other covert intelligence organs (pun intended) that mr. comeys ralph kramden inspired idea needs to be discarded, deep sixed and never be raised again.

  4. It was going to backfire whatever happened once the FBI started down this road. It was a foolhardy course of action, as was the decision to reset the password.

    If the FBI had got their way, no American phone would be perceived as being secure so there would be a huge market opportunity for security solutions from outside the US. Such solutions would be the only ones that customers could believe had no back door.

    By deciding to go so public, every person considering perpetrating a crime has been given a detailed masterclass about how the iPhone encryption works, exactly what is encrypted, what the FBI can and can’t do to circumvent it, what the significance of iCloud backups is and the importance of using a long alphanumeric password.

    Between now and whenever the Supreme Court comes to a conclusion, Apple and other companies will be working very hard to ensure that their new devices cannot be broken into in the ways that have already been suggested. Meanwhile many people will adopt much more secure encryption techniques which will be harder to crack.

    If the Supreme court rules in favour of the FBI, then it would be the end of encryption as we know it and many crimes will become much easier. If they rule against the FBI, they will have created a situation where they will be facing increasingly sophisticated encryption combined with locking techniques that are designed to be impossible to circumvent.

    Meanwhile many politicians have used this case as an opportunity for jumping on a bandwagon that they simply do not understand and are showing themselves o be poorly informed and with bad judgement.

    It’s hard to see how there could ever have been a significant upside to taking this course of action. The only explanation that makes sense to me is that the FBI decided to bully Apple and that they completely underestimated how important principles are to Apple.

    At the end of the day, nobody expects this iPhone to produce any significant evidence relating to terrorism. The problems created by this case will massively outweigh any possible advantage while the FBI and the government have been shown to have no regard whatsoever for the privacy of the population and are now being seen got adopt draconian measures to spy on their own people.

  5. This is certainly evolving into exactly what makes that country tick:

    “The U.S. government’s fight with” {insert something here}.

    And it looks to be a doozy.

    “But think of this as the top of the first inning in this battle between the FBI, the Justice Department, Apple, and privacy and security advocates around the world.”

    There is less and less doubt in my mind that there is a concerted effort to go after Apple, after all they have integrity, morality a just cause, and a global approach, obviously a threat to the current values embraced by that current government.

    It’s the first inning of a battle. With the proper propaganda the government will be able to nurture it into what they adore…war.

      1. France has recently had a major terrorist attack and I think that their attempt to outlaw encryption is kind of a knee jerk reaction, kinda like what your country did right after the second 9/11, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory as I call it. Hopefully they will heal up and cooler heads will prevail, allowing that bill to find it’s way into the trash can. Let’s say I’ll believe it when I see it.

        I’ve read a bit about the constitutional crisis in Poland, I’ll make a note to look further into it.

        There is fortunately a great deal of diversity on this planet and while the actual concept of government needs an overhaul the patchwork we have over the planet will create a patch work of approaches. Some supporting encryption, some not, many looking to profit by it, others following what they perceive the leaders. We might end up with electronic walls where the internet is highly controlled regulated and isolated by certain governments.

        It really does have a science fiction aspect to it. I mean for our history we’ve been able to discover the treasure map, decode the enigma, navigate the maze, crack the safe open, torture information out and now there is something, a technology that makes things unsearchable, a no go zone. That’s scary for a lot of people, and there will be a plethora of reactions, but at the end of the day, humans will adapt, that is their strength.

  6. FBI’s first mistake, this round, was going public.

    However it’s not the top of the first inning. This game has been going on for several years now.

    The real problem is trust. We have been losing trust for quite some time now. It’s embarasing. There needs to be a sharp turn around. We need political figures with integrity. At the moment, I don’t care if they are religious or not.

    May chafe some, but global respect and honor.

  7. The feds are turning into bullies, here. Apple’s clearly fighting for its customers. Security and safety is important to EVERY single one of Apple’s customers. Even Microsoft and Google have to agree with that.

  8. Franklin quote seems to be misapplied.

    — Excerpt —-

    SIEGEL: So far from being a pro-privacy quotation, if anything, it’s a pro-taxation and pro-defense spending quotation.

    WITTES: It is a quotation that defends the authority of a legislature to govern in the interests of collective security. It means, in context, not quite the opposite of what it’s almost always quoted as saying but much closer to the opposite than to the thing that people think it means.

  9. I heard Richard Clarke interviewed this morning. He started out under Ronald Reagan and was security advisor under both GW Bush and Barack Obama. He’s written a number of books (I’ve read one or two) and absolutely gets it as regards computer security.

    He thinks FBI/DOJ are pretty much on their own with this move and have not really coordinated with other branches of government. He says if they want the phone cracked, just send it over to NSA. He thinks (as do most technical people) that FBI is just looking for a test case and a precedent.

    It’s awfully easy for people to see government as something monolithic, but it really isn’t. Department directors are looking after their own careers, and if that goes against the wishes of POTUS, then so be it. That seems to be independent of political party. Remember that former FBI director Louis Freeh wasn’t exactly a friend to Bill Clinton.

    I doubt we’re going to see FBI/DOJ rebuked from the highest levels of government. But they might find they’re out there alone without a lot of support.

  10. Apple claims it’s interested in the privacy of its customers’ data.

    Only that is not the case with its iCloud accounts and users. My daughter’s iCloud account was hacked last week. Apple emailed her that Chinese hackers changed her birthday, security questions and password. However, Apple senior advisers repeatedly and arrogantly refused to help her because she did not know the changes to her birthday, security questions and password that the hackers made.

    It’s a Catch-22. Apple knows her account is compromised. Apple notified her. Yet Apple will not cancel the account or help her because she doesn’t know the new changes made by the hackers. In effect, Apple has transferred her iCloud account to the hackers and will not stop the hackers from downloading or continuing to use her files, photos, music and other data stored in iCloud. Many of these files contain personal tax, financial and other information that would enable them to steal her identity.

    Applecare senior advisor, Nico, said that it’s Apple’s privacy policy to allow the hackers to continue using the stolen iCloud account, documents, music, photos and other data. His Applecare and iCloud supervisors and engineers refused to discuss the matter. He showed no initiative to finding a solution.

    Nico said that Apple will only identify users by their password, birthdate, security questions and credit card. If several of these are changed, Apple’s policy is to do nothing and let the privacy theft and invasion continue.
    My daughter lives in Palo Alto. He refused to let my daughter come to Apple’s Cupertino offices to prove her identity with her passport, birth certificate and other information. He simply said no one would meet with her.

    Shame on Apple. This is not privacy. It’s a knowing assistance to the theft of her private information. Apple acknowledges that wrongful changes to her iCloud account were made, that the hackers made purchases with her account and that the account is no longer secure or private. And yet knowing this, Apple refuses to cancel or reinstate the account.

    1. Frankly, I do not believe a word you just said. Not a whit. How did Apple contact your daughter to inform her of this “hacking” and know that it was hacked? This whole post is Bull Shit of the highest order. Unless your daughter gave them her AppleID and password, there is no way they can brute force their way into it. Apple long ago closed the “forgot my password” brute force vulnerability that allowed multiple tries to get into people’s accounts. Even there, if people used Apple’s required password construction of upper, lower case letters, a number and a symbol, there is no way any dictionary attack could be done in any reasonable calendar time frame.

    2. If, as you say, your daughter’s credit card is registered to that account, she can prove the account is hers using he credit card, regardless of the other ID means. That proves your whole story is bogus. Apple is NOT going to allow someone to continue using an account fraudulently when it opens them to fraudulent charges when the account holder holds the valid card. All your daughter has to do is cancel permission on that card for Apple to use it. Do you really expect us to believe your story?

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