The curious case of Apple and the FBI
The story about the FBI asking Apple for help decrypting the contents of the phones belonging to the San Bernadino shooters smells fishy, and the media seems to have totally missed the point.
Either there is a way to decrypt the filesystem of an iOS device or there isn’t.
If there is no way to decrypt the device, why is Apple protesting? Just say it’s not possible and be done with it.
If it’s possible, then why does the FBI need Apple’s help? Are they technically inept? Can they not be bothered to disassemble the phones in question and inject every possible 4 digit unlock code automatically, to see which one works? Heck, you could hire a kid to spend a few days trying to type all the codes, one by one, into the login screen.
I honestly don’t know what the fuss is about, but I think both the FBI and Apple are liars. Here is what I think is actually going on:
- It’s trivial to unlock these devices.
- The FBI is just making noise for political reasons, to support moves in Congress to force technology companies to create more convenient back doors on these devices.
- Apple is making equally political noise, to oppose such moves.
- None of this is about a single terrorism investigation.
For the record, I think that forcing technology companies to inject back doors into hardware or software products is monumentally stupid — the bad guys will just use real crypto downloaded from the Internet, innocent consumers will be made vulnerable and foreign markets will be closed to US goods, whose products are (correctly identified as) compromised. As usual, the political class is totally clueless and actively harmful to the economy.
P.S. My friend pointed this out to me – I think it’s a brilliant analysis. Probably wrong, but nonetheless sheer genius: