Feature Article

April 01, 2016

The FBI Knows How to Break an iPhone; What Have We Learned?

The answer should be that some debates should not be held in public.

Since the advancement of VoIP technology, the Communications Assisted Law Enforcement Act has updated the obscure wiretap rules found in the Bell System Standard Practices. Public knowledge of government surveillance has been on the rise. The hacking of the retailer Target, plus Wikileaks’ and former NSA staffer Edward Snowden’s revelations have made us numb. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, while politically charged, is on par with the CIA director’s use of AOL.

In other words, we are used to having breaches, with incompetence being the norm.

Having such a public debate shows how poorly educated the FBI leadership is about hacking. It can be compared to the late Alaska Senator Ted Steven’s once referring to the Internet as “a series of tubes.”

So ‘Blackhats’ are either inspired by the FBI’s ineptitude; in hysterics; or sending in their resumes and offering to consult for giant sums of money.

If the FBI used an outside source to gain access, they probably overpaid. If they used internal resources, the team’s success would guarantee a pay raise in the outside world. If they go to the good guys it will mean more public discussions. If they go to bad guys, we will never hear about them again.

Having this public debate has made the public aware of Apple’s security, which probably boosted some sales. Now of course, it has also launched a hackfest of Blackhats wanting to boost their “street cred” by showing they can do it.

By staying public in this debate, the FBI has launched a variety of hackers trying to replicate the success of the FBI. Given how public this debate has been, eventually such a hack will be shown on YouTube.

It would be nice for obscurity to return to government efforts.

Apple allegedly has asked the FBI to reveal how they broke into the phone. Let’s be the first to call this “irony.”

 


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