It may not be all that apparent but Apple and the government, indeed, governments around the world, are in a race. What? How can that be? Didn’t the FBI get the data it wanted from a terrorist’s iPhone? Didn’t Apple win?
On the surface it looks as if that is exactly what happened, but there’s more to the issue. Much more. First, the FBI claims it found a way into the aforementioned iPhone. Second, the iPhone was an older model, running iOS 8; meaning less secure than iOS 9, but, remember, we’re mere months away from another version, ostensibly iOS 10, and that’s where the race is going.
Apple’s response to the FBI dropping the case entirely:
From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone, because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.
But it was. There is little doubt the FBI will be back in court to face Apple again, so you can be sure the company wants to know how the FBI hacked into the terrorist’s iPhone so it can beef up security on future iPhones.
That’s the race. Apple wants to build an iPhone so secure that even the company itself cannot break into customer’s devices under any circumstances. Your Mac has an encryption option which is turned off by default. It’s called FileVault and you’ll find it in the Security & Privacy section of System Preferences.
Should you decide to use FileVault then remember caveat emptor. Apple’s warning:
WARNING: You will need your login password or a recovery key to access your data. A recovery key is automatically generated as part of this setup. If you forget both your password and recover key, the data will be lost.
For obvious reasons, I haven’t tested that warning but there are ways to generate a new login password so whether that could be used to open up FileVault without the key remains to be seen.
You can see where this is going. It’s a race.
Governmental authorities want to do their jobs to protect citizens from hard, while Apple wants to do its job to provide a secure enclave for personal information; a place so secure that not even Apple can break in, even if so ordered by courts. There is little doubt we will see each new version of iOS and OS X come with more security features which cover both sides of a similar coin.
First, to give users more data and security privacy. Second, to prevent even governments from obtaining that data by any means. There is the issue of warrants; a legal means authorities can use to search your belongings. Can it also be used to search your iPhone, Mac, or even iCloud data?
Word on the streets is that Apple is doubling down on iPhone and Mac security for future versions of iOS and OS X, respectively, but for iCloud the company is behind the curve. First of all, Apple does not own its own cloud infrastructure, which is rented from the likes of Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM and others. Apple’s iCloud business requirements have grown too large and too fast for the company to build its own, so some leakage or snooping of customer data is possible. That explains why the company has spent billions of dollars to create its own cloud infrastructure and you can bet the company wants to make it secure from the fools who run authoritarian and totalitarian governments.
Foolproof? That would be great if fools were not so ingenious.