What You Need To Know About Data Security

If you think you know everything there is to know about data security, think again.  This little video could show you what you’ve been missing out on.


FBI vs Apple: What’s Going on?

fbivsapplecartoonThe FBI is embroiled in a legal battle with tech giant Apple over an iPhone that was purportedly used by one of the shooters during a terror attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernadino, California which claimed the lives of 14 people and injured 22 others. As it is, the two are involved in a court case over Apple’s refusal to comply with a court order (issued on February, 2016) from a federal judge. The court order demanded Apple to build a custom software to be used to gain access to an iPhone 5c belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook (slain attacker). Both the FBI and Apple are refusing to back down in what is slowly turning into a confusing legal skirmish. Here’s what you need to know about the FBI vs Apple tussle;

What the FBI wants

In 2014, the tech giant, Apple changed its OS (operating system) so that all iPhones were encrypted by default and that it (Apple) had no access to the encyption keys. Instead, the encyption key would be generated by combining the user’s password with a unique identifier stored on the device. As a security measure, attempting to generate this key is only possible in 10 attempts failure to which the device permanently locks the iPhone. Farook’s iPhone uses the iOS 9 running on this feature.

The catch

Since Apple can’t decrypt the iPhone, the FBI wants it to upload a modified Operating System that will disable the 10-attempt limit thereby allowing for electronic entry. If Apple complies, the FBI can easily compute the 10 000 possible combinations one of which would be Farook’s 4-digit pass code. FBI wants Apple to build the software because any updates on the OS require the company’s digital signature. In fact, the feds are even willing to let Apple build the software and upload it from it’s own facility. However, the Agency insists that it will input the passwords.

The argument

The FBI argues that according to the All Writs Act of 1789, the judge has been given mandate to demand compliance from Apple. After all, there is a court order demanding so and there’s no undue burden imposing. On the other hand, Apple and its legal team has invoked the right to freedom of speech (which is well documented in the First Amendment) claiming that the code (required to override the iOS restriction) is a form of speech. As is obvious, the tech giant argues that it is being compelled to write code for the agency. It is very difficult to predict the outcome of this legal tussle – don’t be surprised if it goes all the way to the Supreme Court.

What are the implications?

This legal tussle is the latest among many others which have been used to try to circumvent the growing level of encryption on consumers’ devices. The White House made an announcement some time last year saying it wouldn’t promote legislation which compels tech companies to build ‘back-doors’ to their devices to allow government agencies to surpass encyption. This will be interesting.

How long this legal tussle lasts is a mystery; we’ll just wait and see.