Apple versus the FBI: security experts not happy with FBI moves

Anthony Caruana
4 March, 2016
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Apple and the FBI have been fighting a pitched battle over access to data on a locked iPhone 5s. The phone, used by domestic terrorist Syed Rizwan Farook in a legal battle over the Federal Government’s right to require built-in smartphone encryption software that could aid law enforcement investigations. This case is one of about a dozen the FBI is trying to win to access locked iPhones.

It is asking Apple to write new software that would allow it to conduct a brute force attack on the encrypted data.

The fight has already moved from the US courts to a Congressional hearing with the likely outcome to be decided in the Supreme Court if both parties continue to appeal against judgements that go against their desires.

Security company Tripwire Inc conducted a survey of 198 security professionals attending the RSA Conference 2016. Of those surveyed, 81 percent of respondents said it is either very likely or certain that cybercriminals would abuse the Government’s capability to access encrypted data if technology companies are required to provide it.

Other findings include:

  • 82 percent of respondents said it is either very likely or certain that government agencies would abuse their right to access encrypted data if technology companies were required to provide it
  • 53 percent said technology firms should be required to provide access to encrypted data on consumer devices if law enforcement serves them with a warrant or subpoena, and
  • when asked about the impact this change would have on consumer and enterprise privacy and security, an overwhelming 88 percent believe it will reduce security and privacy.

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