Apple Refuses to Help FBI ‘Hack’ San Bernadino Shooter’s i-Phone
At first glance, some might think Apple isn't cooperating. But what the Feds are asking could possibly be a Pandora's Box. Here's why.
At the surface is the government's need to gain information from San Bernadino shooter Syed Farook's county issued i-Phone, but don't know his access code or password to get into the phone. Farook and his wife, who died later in a shootout with authorities, murdered 14 people last December during a holiday party at Farook's San Bernadino County office building where he worked.
Apple has built features into the latest i-Phone that include a 'self-destruct' feature that will delete all the personal non-factory data on the phone after a certain number of unsuccessful log-in attempts. Farook's phone is encrypted, and the feds want Apple to supply software to allow them to access the phone. The carrier, Verizon, cannot supply the necessary information to open it.
All i-Phones manufactured after 2014 carry the new security system. The phones come with default encryption, which the user can change the password to one of their liking. But unlike older such phones, Apple does not have a 'tool' to allow access to these newer units. And, after ten unsuccessful attempts to unlock the phone, it will "self-destruct" and erase all the non-factory data stored inside.
However, Apple officials say the feds are asking them to do something that could potentially compromise the safety, security and integrity of millions of such units. Apple says building a backdoor version of iOS (internal operating system) that could circumvent the security of the phone is dangerous because there's no way to guarantee that data somehow won't wind up in the wrong hands. The feds have assured Apple it would be for THIS case only. Apple is basically saying they don't trust the government with that kind of powerful technology.
The feds not only want the technology but they want Apple to 'give' it to them for use on this phone.
There are programs that can be used on older phones to get in through the 'back door' but Apple has not developed any such methods for it's most current iOS, and they want to keep it that way.
Judge Sheri Pym, a U.S. Magistrate judge, has ruled that Apple must cooperate with the feds, the first such ruling of any kind when it comes to digital technology. The ruling has touched off a furious debate between those who say it's needed for national security, and those who champion privacy rights in the digital age.
The software desired by the FBI would allow them to bypass the software that deletes the phone's data after ten unsuccessful attempts. The FBI wants to run a series of rapid fire password attempts from a computer that they say will eventually unlock the phone.