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Apple’s Fight for Security and Privacy

By Collin Miller @MobileSecOps


Apple CEO Tim Cook continues to make headlines for his refusal to comply with a federal order to assist the FBI in unlockingdreamstime_xs_19106337 the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. Several news outlets, including CNN, reported that Mr. Cook emailed Apple employees early today. He also recently posted a letter to Apple customers explaining this decision.

This a complex issue, but I think Mr. Cook has it right.  If Apple were to comply, it would be a slippery slope on a number of levels.

First, it would set a precedent that the government can compel companies to undermine their own security. The FBI, in ordering Apple to develop tools to circumvent its own security, is essentially trying to force Apple to write custom iOS malware.

Second, Apple is a multinational company operating in markets throughout the world.  What is to stop the Russian or Chinese governments from compelling Apple to develop similar software, or to stop other sophisticated actors from stealing such a technology once it has been developed?  Apple is in a unique position to take a strong stand on this issue, and if they prevail, digital privacy rights may end up being a legacy defining issue for Mr. Cook.

Rich Mogull put together a much more thorough argument for why security professionals need to speak out in support of Apple here:

Collin Miller is an information security professional with 10 years’ experience. He works for Structured, and – despite being an avid wanderer – calls Portland, Oregon, home.