Apple ’s temerity shows the extent companies can go to protect their brand and profitability. The company orchestrated an act of defiance to the American government after a judge ordered the iPhone maker to help the FBI hack into a San Bernadino shooter’s phone, CEO Tim Cook refused.
The company has the ability to unlock the phone but they can’t go against the company’s regulations. In addition, the act will involve complicated engineering.
The CEO wrote to his customers: “The US Government has asked us for something we simply do not have, and something we consider too dangerous to create.”
Common citizens in the US believe the company is obstructive to anti-terror investigations. Donald Trump was surprised by the company’s decision and commented, “Who do they think they are?”
Ideally, the company wants to protect every single iPhone owner around the world. Currently, there are a billion active iOS devices and all of them must be protected. However, the FBI wants to make a one-off unlock of Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone 5c. According to experts, this will not be a one-off thing if FBI succeeds to carry out their search.
Farook’s passcode is the only way the FBI and other stakeholders involved in the search can use to gain access to the messages and photos stored on the iPhone, and Apple doesn’t know his passcode. Now, the FBI could guess the password, but if it guesses wrong 10 times, all the data on Farook’s phone will be deleted and the phone will be useless.
The American government can’t gain access on its own because of the implications. The FBI has to come up with a special firmware, a code that controls the iPhone’s operating system. However, the phone can’t recognize random firmware since it will need an Apple’s signature.
The bureau wants Apple to create a special operating system that can override iOS9’s airtight security, and install it on Farook’s phone, but this will not be a self-destructing piece of code. The software will be able to break into any iPhone on the planet if the FBI gain control of it.
If Apple creates a backdoor, it’s believed that any individual, corporation or government can use that door to gain access to every iPhone user’s personal data, whether voluntarily or not. It will also be disastrous if cybercriminals find a way of using the same backdoor to hack iPhones.
Apple may come up with a firmware that can recognize Farook’s iPhone and allow the FBI to guess as many passcodes as it wants without deleting the entire phone’s data. Afterwards, the guys can connect the phone to a computer and install the firmware. It could “brute force” Farook’s phone, hooking it up to a number generator that can guess up to 12 four-digit passcodes a second, according to CNN.
What if Apple fights back?
The tech company can appeal the decision since it was written by a US magistrate who is not an actual district judge.
However, the company risks being held in contempt of court and it could be fined close to $200 billion, or someone will be jailed.