Craig Federighi: FBI ‘pressing us to turn back the clock to a less-secure time’

Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering, Craig Federighi has published an editorial for The Washington Post in which he criticizes the idea of a government backdoor into the company’s software and accuses the FBI of wanting to “turn back the clock to a less-secure time”.

originalApple's Senior Vice President of Software Engineering-Craig Federighi

Craig reiterates in the editorial what other Apple executives have been saying: the FBI and other government agencies are asking Apple to reduce its security measure on the iPhone by creating a special version of iOS that allows one to bypass the built-in passcode protection mechanism. This will allow a hacker to force their way into an iPhone.

Federighi notes that in just the past 18 months, hackers have stolen millions of people’s credit card information, social security numbers and fingerprint records from retail chains, banks and even the federal government. However, Federighi calls these digital defense breaches “the tip of the iceberg”.

Your phone is more than a personal device. In today’s mobile, networked world, it’s part of the security perimeter that protects your family and co-workers. Our nation’s vital infrastructure — such as power grids and transportation hubs — becomes more vulnerable when individual devices get hacked. Criminals and terrorists who want to infiltrate systems and disrupt sensitive networks may start their attacks through access to just one person’s smartphone.

Craig says that the encryption technology used by Apple in the iPhone “represents the best data security available” to consumers right now. He further adds that these security measures not only help in preventing unauthorised access to one’s personal data, they also help prevent hackers and people with malicious intent to implant a spyware or malware into one’s device.

That’s why it’s so disappointing that the FBI, Justice Department and others in law enforcement are pressing us to turn back the clock to a less-secure time and less-secure technologies. They have suggested that the safeguards of iOS 7 were good enough and that we should simply go back to the security standards of 2013. But the security of iOS 7, while cutting-edge at the time, has since been breached by hackers. What’s worse, some of their methods have been productized and are now available for sale to attackers who are less skilled but often more malicious.

Craig believes that while great software has a lot of potential to solve human problems, “malicious code moves just as quickly, and when software is created for the wrong reason, it has a huge and growing capacity to harm millions of people”.

The vice president of software engineering at Apple ends his editorial by saying that security is an endless race, which one can never really win. One needs to continuously improve their security to provide a strong base for the software innovations of tomorrow.

Apple has officially opposed an order that would require it to help the FBI break into the iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook and will now face off against the government in court on March 22.

Source: The Washington Post

Craig Federighi: FBI ‘pressing us to turn back the clock to a less-secure time’

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