As part of Apple’s continuing quest to raise support for its side of the Apple/FBI iPhone encryption backdoor debate, Craig Federighi has written an opinion piece in The Washington Post. Unsurprisingly, the Apple executive repeats much of the arguments Apple has already made, indicating that hampering security efforts in technology is counterproductive:
To get around Apple’s safeguards, the FBI wants us to create a backdoor in the form of special software that bypasses passcode protections, intentionally creating a vulnerability that would let the government force its way into an iPhone. Once created, this software — which law enforcement has conceded it wants to apply to many iPhones — would become a weakness that hackers and criminals could use to wreak havoc on the privacy and personal safety of us all.
Federighi admits that security is an ongoing battle, where you can step ahead of the bad guys but also fall behind. He suggests that the future software depends on strong encryption and ‘we cannot afford to fall behind those who would exploit technology in order to cause chaos’.
Federighi says that the government’s suggestion that security systems present in iOS 7 was good enough is illogical. This has since been cracked and is now available commercially to empower ‘attackers who are less skilled but often more malicious’. Apple changed its encryption strategy with iOS 8 on onwards to entangle the data with the device passcode, making decryption only possible with the user password. Federighi says software created for the wrong reason has the capacity to ‘harm millions of people’.
I became an engineer because I believe in the power of technology to enrich our lives. Great software has seemingly limitless potential to solve human problems — and it can spread around the world in the blink of an eye. Malicious code moves just as quickly, and when software is created for the wrong reason, it has a huge and growing capacity to harm millions of people.
If you haven’t been following the Apple/FBI case, the government wants Apple to create a special version of iPhone firmware that will circumvent certain security provisions to enable the government to brute-force passwords (trying every single 4-digit combination) in order to gain access to the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone data.
The government wants Apple to create code that will disable the delay between successive PIN attempts and disable the erase function after 10 attempts. If Apple is forced to make this tool, the government will be able to gain access within 30 minutes. Apple says that making this tool weakens the security of iOS devices for everyone, not just the bad guys. Apple has received formal support from over 40 companies, defending the need for strong encryption. Apple is arguing that the government’s motion to compel is unconstitutional. Listen to Apple’s head lawyer discuss their legal position in a fifteen-minute interview with Bloomberg.
Apple and FBI begin their court battle on March 22nd, a day after Apple is expected to unveil the new 4-inch iPhone SE, a 9.7 inch iPad Pro and more at a special media event in Cupertino.
Read Craig Federighi’s full op-ed on The Washington Post website.