And About This Apple Thing

It’s been 3 years since I wrote.

Not for lack of trying, I assure you, but it’s literally been 3 years since I blogged. Time is fleeting, so they say. I do hope those of you that used to follow here missed the occasional rant, I hope to get back to this regularly starting now.

This Apple thing has dragged many of us Monday Morning Quarterbacks out of our comfortable shells, partially because it’s fascinating and partially because the downstream effects of this issue impact us all.

Here are the parts of the story that haven’t gotten the publicity that they should:

  1. We all remember the utter shock we felt back when Snowden first exposed the government’s surveillance program. We can’t overstate the sheer horror and humiliation of it, and the helplessness of seeing all of the major tech giants who were [forced to be] in on it. Fast forward a few years – if you think the FBI doesn’t already have people on the inside at Apple that can crack this thing open, you haven’t been paying attention.
  2. Apple has gotten great publicity out of this, but let’s not forget that Apple does not give a crap about our privacy. They use our data with and without our consent in ways that we don’t approve. They are one of the biggest privacy violators on the planet. To suggest that they are in this for the good of their customers is a farce. This is the same Apple that stuffed our iPhones full of U2 MP3s without our knowledge or consent.
  3. Time will tell if Cellebrite has figured out how to compromise the iPhone just as the FBI wanted. I have no doubt, however that this is a diversionary tactic, and that the FBI has had access to this device for some time now. They carried this out “by the book” to get attention, either because they wanted to earn some good will or they were doing something even more nefarious behind our backs while we were distracted with this story.
  4. This is a legal issue as much as it is a technical issue. Who does Apple think they are to refuse a Federal warrant? How is Tim Cook not in jail? The law is the law and $34B in cash shouldn’t change that.
  5. The problem with #4 is that the law is vague, obtuse and outdated. Legislation does not keep pace with cybersecurity or technology. The law basically says that if you have desirable assets, and the Feds present you with a warrant, you have to hand them over. The catch is – Apple doesn’t really “have” the data without creating a new product, which the Government cannot force you to build. Sticky.
  6. The “back door” that Apple claims they’d have to build is already available – just not from Apple. If Apple really wanted to protect our privacy and security they would make a more secure device and stop “acquiring” our personal information.

All this said – if there’s anyone I trust less than Apple, it’s the Feds. With the NSA and other blanket surveillance programs that were (and probably still are) in place, they probably already have all of this terrorist’s data – they just don’t know where to look for it. And even if Apple handed over the data on this device, the Feds probably wouldn’t prevent much crime with it anyway. Let’s not forget – the NSA had wholesale, blanket surveillance in place for years – of the 255 (now 256) domestic terrorism cases since 9/11 it has prevented exactly 1.

If Apple were smart they would tell the Feds that they would get the data off the phone (and any other phone for that matter), but it will cost $10M per phone to do it.

After all, who couldn’t use another billion.

About regharnish

CEO of GreyCastle Security

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