Saturday, February 20, 2016

APPLE Versus The FBI: Why Apple is right. You Don't Give a Loaded Gun To A Child.


Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock, you know that the FBI is in a heated battle with Apple. In an effort to gleam data from a dead terrorist's cell phone, the FBI is asking the tech giant to create a work around to their own security system. On the Iphone if you punch in the wrong security password over 10 times the content on the phone will be erased. The FBI wants apple to provide new code to shut down that security feature so they can break into the phone by so called "brute force" software that in essence generates an infinite number of combinations until the correct password is found.

Just days ago, Magistrate Judge Sheri Pym declared that Apple must create this type of software that would bypass the security features on the specific Iphone used by that dead terrorist, Syed Rizwan Farook enabling the FBI to retrieve data like pictures, messages etc. This is the thing, Apple does not want to comply. CEO Timothy Cook says that creating this bypass software would create a dangerous precedent and could undermine the security of it's devices. Cook's stated concern is that while the FBI says this bypass software will only be used on this one phone, the software itself, the keys to their privacy kingdom could be potentially used in other cases or this new software could itself be hacked / stolen and thus make all Iphones porous to all sorts of attacks. In any event, this battle is going to court.

There are so many levels to this issue. Can and should our Government be able to legally force a company, any company to hand over any kind of proprietary information or products under the guise of our nations security needs?  Now I am not the smartest tool in the shed so rather than recite all the arguments made by learned legal experts let's look at this simply. Let's take a common sense approach.

Simply put, Apple should not in any terms succumb to the government's pressure and hand over bypass software to the FBI or any other government agency for the simple fact that government agencies when compared to the private sector are lame. Anyone who has visited the DMV already knows this fact to be true. Now keep in mind that the government who is asking for this bypass software is that same government who did not properly vet the visa application of Tashfeen Makil, the "other" shooter in the San Bernardino California rampage. House Judiciary Committee Chariman Bob Goodlatte found that there was insufficient evidence to prove that Malik and U.S. Citizen Farook actually met in person which is a primary requirement for a foreign national seeking a K-1 fiancee visa. Apparently, foreign nationals of all sorts are being rubber stamped in and / or over staying their legal visas with no repercussions.

Apple contends that if they supply this software to the government someone else might be able to access it. The FBI says it is safe in the government's hand. Now keep in mind that this is the same government that admitted last year that there was a huge government security breach that exposed 21.5 million Americans to potential access to their social security numbers and even some fingerprint data. The hackers stole "sensitive material" including addresses, health information and more. This breach was apart from an earlier hack that included 4.2 federal employees. Both attacks emanated from China. These are known hacks. It is chilling to think what hackers are doing that we don't even know about.

Another thing that bothers me about the government legally forcing Apple to give up proprietary software or even create proprietary software is the reason for it. By this I mean, is there truly enough important, life saving information to be gleamed from this particular cell phone in question? Again, let's think of this from a common sense approach. From all that has been reported and while Isis declared Farook and Malik as martyrs, there seems to be no evidence that suggest that the San Bernardino shooters were part of a larger terrorist cell or had any logistic support or support of any kind from Isis. Now if this is the case, what information is the FBI thinking they will find? For a government agency to order a private company to give up potentially sensitive proprietary information up then the payoff better be great. It seems it is not or is the government merely using this tragedy to make a precedent to force Apple to comply again and again in the future? Is the government again holding up the terrorist trump card to make us give up our rights?

In the final analysis it would be utterly INSANE for Apple to create this bypass software and hand it to the FBI. Doing so would be like giving a gaggle of A.D.D rattled 12 year old kids off their meds and hopped up on copious amounts of Mountain Dew loaded guns and keys to your classic Ford Fairlane. The government has not exhibited the resolve, focus or expertise to handle such sensitive and potentially dangerous software. It is also mind blowing to think that their are not security experts within the government who could find a work around themselves. I guess I have been watching too much TV.

Now, if Apple were allowed to take possession of the phone in question they could, after all, retrieve all the data and give that data to the FBI. This would be a nice compromise without the heavy thumb of the government on their back. That would be a nice work around but I doubt this will happen. It makes too much common sense.
Robb Donker

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