Apple’s very public spat with the FBI has raged for days, and the company may already be moving to make this year’s iPhone 7 totally unhackable, according to a report. The New York Times cites unnamed sources who said Apple wants to make an iPhone that even it isn’t able to hack, marking the next shot in the ongoing fight over privacy versus security.
Can Apple lock even itself out of the iPhone 7?
According to the newspaper’s website, Apple has already started working on new security that would lock even itself out of iPhones. The report indicates that experts believe the iPhone maker will “almost surely” be successful in developing the ultra-tight security measures. And if Apple is successful, it would mean that even if officials do eventually force it into helping the hack into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, in the future, the company would not be able to do the same thing with other iPhones.
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Additionally, it would solve what’s arguably Apple’s biggest concern: that if it writes software to break into one iPhone, the same software could be adapted to break into others. The company said it has already received other court orders to unlock other iPhones in other parts of the country, so CEO Tim Cook’s concerns have already been validated.
Will the battle ever end?
The New York Times says if Apple does develop tighter security, it could trigger yet another series of court battles, and the iPhone maker would again have to tighten security to lock itself out yet again. The article states that Congress would then have to intervene in order to stop what could theoretically become a never-ending cycle.
Current federal wiretapping laws cover phone companies and state that they must make it possible for law enforcement to access their data. Tech companies aren’t covered at this time, but Congress may be able to force them to comply with a similar law.
Whether the security measures will be ready for the iPhone 7 or not is unclear, but it seems as if they will come as part of an iOS update rather than any components that could be added to the device. If so, it means that all iPhones that get updated to that version of iOS would become unhackable, in theory. And by patching holes through iOS, it would mean that Apple might be able to button up all its phones even before the iPhone 7 arrives, which is expected in September.
Apple versus the FBI: the next chapter
In the case of the San Bernardino shooter’s phone, the company said it has already turned over all of the information it had about the iPhone, but the information is far from complete. Apple uses end-to-end encryption, which means it has no access to anything that’s actually on the device.
The point of using such tight encryption is to keep law enforcement (and hackers) from being able to easily access someone’s iPhone, and the fact that the FBI is unable to do so proves just how well it works. The only hole in the security right now is the fact that it’s possible for Apple to write software to allow the agency to break into an iPhone.
Of course Apple isn’t the only tech firm to use end-to-end encryption. It’s become quite common since former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the whistle on the agency’s broad-based digital spying program that targeted even average Americans rather than just known or suspected terrorists or criminals.