Rabid reseller: Apple spooks go crackers

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This article appeared in the March 2016 issue of CRN magazine.

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Rabid reseller: Apple spooks go crackers

For the discerning terrorist, only one smartphone is good enough. The uncrackable encryption of the iPhone makes the choice easy. Apparently even Apple can’t crack its own iPhone, despite being instructed to do so by the FBI, CIA, NSA and the rest of the alphabet-soup of spooks’ clubs.

Well, maybe it can, but so far Apple is refusing to cooperate, hiding behind the old privacy and individual rights chestnuts. They’re getting a lot of support from ordinary folk who happen to quite like those chestnuts and want them preserved indefinitely.

Despite all the security agencies clamouring to know what’s on that iPhone, there’s a rather large swag of the general population that just doesn’t trust the spooks to stop snooping after they’ve harvested specific secrets.

What’s to stop them coming after your iPhone? Nobody is quite sure why Big Brother would want to look at their iPhone, or any other smartphone for that matter, but nobody likes the idea that he could.

The other enigma is why those super-smart agencies needed to ask for Apple’s help in the first place. Surely their back rooms are full of ultra-geeks who could crack the encryption on an iPhone in an instant?

If they can’t, then maybe the security wallahs need to hire a whole new gang of teenagers to get the job done. There must be plenty of them bored with Minecraft by now and ready for the next challenge.

The FBI isn’t backing down and neither is Apple. Both sides have decided to duke it out in court, which means there will be a huge payday for their legal teams. It’s a fair bet that the US Constitution will get dragged into court several more times before they’re finished. It’s unlikely they’ll be talking about the Second Amendment, regardless of how this whole thing started.

To make things more interesting, some of the victims of the terror attack in San Bernardino have hired their own lawyer to join the push to get Apple to cave in.
Well, they’ve managed to get a high profile ex-judge to take their case pro bono, but no matter who’s paying, it doesn’t do the FBI’s case any harm when victims stand with it against those giant, scary multinational technologists.

Apple boss Tim Cook has made it clear that the company’s refusal to cooperate thus far is about more than just this particular iPhone. “At stake is the data security of hundreds of millions of law-abiding people, and setting a dangerous precedent that threatens everyone’s civil liberties,” he said in an email to all Apple staff.

There are many who detect the whiff of a broad attack by the US Government against all tech companies, in order to set a precedent for unfettered access to all their products when directed to open the doors by security agencies. Supporters of this theory cite the fact that the iPhone in question was the work phone of one of the shooters – not his personal phone that he destroyed – and is, therefore, highly unlikely to yield anything interesting.

Meanwhile, at least one high-profile presidential candidate has come out in support of the FBI, urging his followers to boycott all of Apple’s products until the company complies with the request to unlock the iPhone. He issued his call to arms using his iPhone. Oops.

Gotta go! iPhone to encrypt!

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