Apple CEO warns unlocking iPhone would be ‘software equivalent of cancer’

25 Feb 20161 Share

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Apple is developing new security measures that will make it harder for governments to break into a locked iPhone. Yesterday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that creating a backdoor into the iPhone would be the “software equivalent of cancer”.

At the heart of Apple’s promise of privacy to iPhone owners is a density of encryption that, in its current state, is nigh on impossible to crack, with millions of layers of potential encryption combinations.

Apple has been ordered by a court to help crack the iPhone of Syed Farook who, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and injured 22 others in San Bernardino, California, in December.

However, Apple argues that creating just one way to bypass this encryption would compromise the security of millions and, one day, billions, of people.

Cook warns this isn’t about the iPhone, it is about the future

“This is not about one phone,” Cook said in an ABC interview yesterday. “This case is about the future. Can the government compel Apple to write software that we believe would make hundreds of millions of customers vulnerable around the world?”

He added: “The only way to get information – at least currently, the only way we know – would be to write a piece of software that we view as sort of the equivalent of cancer. We think it’s bad news to write. We would never write it. We have never written it – and that is what is at stake here. We believe that is a very dangerous operating system.”

According to the New York Times Apple is upgrading security on the iPhone in such a way that it will create a significant technical challenge, even if the US government wins its fight over access to data stored on an iPhone.

tim-cook-apple-iphone

‘For all of those people who want to have a voice, but they’re afraid, we are standing up and we are standing up for our customers because protecting them we view as our job’
– TIM COOK

This will prompt another wave of court orders and court battles and most likely could result in Congress passing controversial legislation.

Currently, 51pc of Americans believe Apple should grant federal agencies access to the iPhone at the heart of the San Bernardino investigation.

But Tim Cook warns that this will create a dangerous precedent in a world where it won’t be only the good guys who will have the key to the back door.

Outside the US, the world is still reeling from the revelations of government surveillance made by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

“For all of those people who want to have a voice, but they’re afraid, we are standing up and we are standing up for our customers because protecting them we view as our job,” Cook said.

Locked iPhone image via Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com