The iPhone of dead San Bernardino terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook has been in the hands of the FBI for weeks now. So why hasn’t the intelligence been accessed and evaluated for the protection of Americans against possible future attacks and the prosecution of additional terrorist conspirators? Encryption? Not really. Ethics? Possibly. Public perception and future market share? Getting warmer!
On this past Tuesday (Feb. 16), a federal magistrate in California ordered Apple to develop a custom version of its IOS software that disables embedded security features and install it on Farook’s iPhone. On Wednesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook counterpunched in an open letter to Apple customers and the public, in which he described these actions as an “unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.”
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark) asserted yesterday that Apple is more concerned with “a dead terrorist’s privacy over the security of the American people.” This issue is as simple as it is complicated, yet it presents a greater issue for Apple—which may be taking for granted the public’s naiveté on the differences between encryption and security.
The iPhone LTE (Long Term Evolution) protocol is a massive encrypted security protocol. In fact, at this point in time, even the NSA is unable to completely crack the code and listen to both sides of a conversation (metadata is a different topic that I wrote about a while ago). I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds here, but it’s a 256-bit end-to-end user encryption with multiple layers.