First off, to be clear (and it will be anyway) I am not an Apple fan-boy. I do have some of their products but for the most part I prefer the Android operating system for my phone. I like having the freedom of choice on what goes on there and what I can interact with. I do believe Apple makes beautiful products that are easy to use. So I’m not an Apple hater either. I don’t have super strong opinions either way about the company. The only post I have tagged Apple on here is about the mobile game Flight Control (from 2010). And now this one.
As very-well reported everywhere in the world Apple denied doing something they were ordered to do by a court. I am not going to get into overarching privacy issues and discussions here on my typical 500-1000 word post. The gist, that everyone gets, is that the government wanted terrorism information and wanted (well, compelled – through the courts) Apple to build in an OS change so they could access it. Apple fought back on privacy grounds saying that that vulnerability would then be open for abuse by undesirable persons to then use it on unsuspecting citizens and steal all of their digital secrets.
Ignoring the part of the argument that in order for that to happen someone from Apple would have to leak it in the first place after making it – which is a contrary argument already, because if you don’t trust your own people then there are probably already ways out there to hack it already. It turns out there is.
While Apple took the high road stance to show they wouldn’t risk their customer’s privacy all they really did was prove publically that it isn’t safe already. The methods to get into their devices is already out there. So in essence we now know that their devices are not secure, and they can’t provide the privacy and security they sought to claim in the first place. This is where I think they may have played it wrong.
If they would have built a one time door and destroyed it after and said “Our devices are so secure that the only way to hack into it is if we do it.” and “We did it as per the judges order, but then destroyed it afterwards” then everyone would “know” how secure their devices were. Instead, they took a stance (that was largely unpopular with general ‘Murica, googling poll results) and the government found their own way. Now the world is aware that you can already hack Apple devices. For those in the tech know-how that probably isn’t much of a surprise but for the average user who thinks their phone is a fortress it probably is.
Of course, if they had agreed to build-in the back door to protect the fantasy that their device was impenetrable then they would be called sellouts to the government, which may have been a worse result. Apple doesn’t really have that kind of hacker image already though, right? Aren’t the stereotypical apple users hipsters, artists, and non-techies?
Either way, I’m just really surprised there isn’t more public outcry for how un-secure the Apple device is – real or imagined.