Skip to main content

What's happening with Apple and the FBI?

If you've been keeping up with the news, you'll know that there was a heated argument going on between Apple and the FBI regarding ''unlocking'' the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone.

The FBI claimed that Apple should have been prepared to help them unlock the phone (which was locked with password-enabled strong encryption) in the interest of national security, whereas Apple insisted that privacy should have come first.

What did the FBI want?

The FBI initially wanted Apple to create a firmware update which could be installed on the phone through USB, so they could try every possible pass code without the phone locking permanently. The firmware needed to disable the amount of times a pass code could be entered incorrectly, and the time you have to wait between entering incorrect pass codes.

Would a firmware update have unlocked the phone?

Apple confirmed that this update would bypass their security, but only for older models. From the iPhone 5s onward, all Apple devices have 'Secure Enclave'. It handles password attempts separately from the rest of the device, which is far more secure. But the iPhone is a 5c, so this approach would have worked.

So what was Apple's problem with this?

Apple protested that this ''backdoor'' would give the FBI access to all of their customer's devices from the iPhone 5c backwards. They claimed that the firmware update violated the public's privacy, and said they worked for their customers - not the US government.

But the FBI then claimed they didn't need Apple's help, as an outside party (now thought to be an Israeli-based mobile software company) had found a way to unlock the iPhone. The FBI have now unlocked the phone and dropped the case against Apple.  

What's the subtext? 

Apple have spent a lot of time and money claiming they protect their user's privacy, so it would have been an odd PR decision to comply. They were worried that if they lost this case in court it would set a legal precedent for other cases, and they'd be forced to help in future.

Apple are now concerned that as the FBI gained access to the iPhone through a security flaw, it could allow the FBI into every Apple device quickly, easily and without Apple's knowledge or intervention. Apple are now under pressure to locate the flaw and patch it. 

But the FBI have only delayed the wider discussion. Their argument rested on the All Writs Act, which is over 200 years old and therefore unstable grounds for a conversation about a mobile phone. The question of who businesses should be working for remains open.

Can I keep my devices protected?

If you're worried about the security of your Apple device, you can change your password to a complex alphanumeric string in the settings section. This makes a brute-force attack very difficult and much more time consuming.

But that isn't the real problem here - unless you suspect your phone is likely to be seized by the US government. This navigation of Apple's security is possible, legal or not - and we know from Edward Snowden that the GCHQ could be able to get into our devices already. 

If the FBI have such easy access to our iPhones through a new law or a security flaw it could open up a huge can of worms. If outside forces are able to legally access, locate and manipulate our devices, it will be difficult for any amount of security to give consumers peace of mind. 


The Transcendit Way

Transcendit understand that when you choose to work with us, whether we're taking care of your IT, app or web development, you're trusting us with part of your business. So whether we're looking after your computers, phone systems or servers we always do things 'the Transcendit way'.

The whole of our team adhere to the same values, beliefs and policies - the principles that were written when Transcendit first formed in 2000. Whether you come to us for a refurbished computer, cloud services or recovery backup you can be confident that you'll always receive the same excellent service.

The Transcendit way outlines how we do business; following the same straightforward principles with every client and customer, regardless of how big or small they may be.

That means we get to know you and your business. We offer you a friendly, professional and efficient service, and we'll always be honest with you.
We understand that not everybody speaks fluent IT, so we try to explain things in a way that is simple and clear. We always spend as much time as is necessary explaining things to you.
If you need to talk to us about something, no matter how insignificant, we are only ever a phone call away – and we’re never too busy to make you a cup of tea and have a sit down with you in person.
We understand how frustrating it can be when things are late. When we schedule an appointment with you, we are there when you’re expecting us. If something prevents us from getting there, we always call you in advance to let you know.
Sometimes things can go wrong, but we never lie to you or try to cover something up. If things go askew we tell you what’s happened and how we plan to prevent it affecting your business.
We want you to continuously benefit from working with us. We regularly discuss your business and make suggestions for improving systems and processes wherever we can – but we never try to push you into a purchase.
When we quote a fixed price, that's always the amount we charge – you won’t find any nasty surprises on a bill from us. If you are paying by time and materials, we inform you if our approximations could change.
We understand the importance of privacy for your business and your customers. We respect the confidentiality of your data, and we will never pass on your information to third parties.
We appreciate it when you take the time to give us feedback. A system called CustomerSure records our client's responses, so you can trust that our reviews are from real people.
Find out what they're saying here.
Paul is always more than helpful...we'd be lost without him! Angela Fenwick, Streetwise

Based on 5933 reviews our customers rate us 9.8/10. Reviews and ratings by Customersure. 15-August-2017

Transcendit are proud sponsors of CHUF, the Children's Heart Unit Fund.