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What is unknown is, if what the FBI claims is true or not. This is because the FBI are basing all their arguments on assumptions because there is a "vacuum of information" about the internals of the phone which are quite rightly Apple's "Trade Secrets" and they have a right to keep them that way. Apple claim that there is not a method in place that will alow the passphrase system to be bypassed, and this is probably true. The FBI counter that whilst there may not currently be a method in place Apple could put one in place because they have the Private Key of the signing process used to prevent unauthorised software updates.

How ever this is where it gets messy due to the rules of evidence of "not tampering" otherwise the "Fruit of the poison vine" comes into play and any data extracted would be inadmissible as evidence at a future trial. For various technical reasons this may not be possible. But the FBI has shot themselves in the foot, because they are trying to say that what they want will only be for that phone and that phone only which is actually technically quite difficult to do, and more that once done Apple can destroy it.

Well actually that raises a problem, because it becomes part of the evidence chain, thus if Apple destroy it then the evidence is nolonger evidence. Thus this brings further askance on what the FBI are upto, because they should know this The technical reason for why you can not just lift the data of the phone is what is actually involved. The data is protected by a Bit AES master key, which is not stored on the phone.

It is built each time from the user passphrase and other "hidden" effectivly One Way variables when the phone is unlocked. This makes the process not just One Way, it also makes it hardware dependent, so it has to be done on that phone and that phone only because of the One Way variables.


As I said in theory the FBI could extract those variables and but it would be very high risk and it would probably still not give them the AES master key to get at the data. But there is another question that is yet to be answered which is has Apple put other "anti-tamper" protection mechanisms in place.

What is not currently known publically is if Apple has or has not used such mechanisms. And they are quite within their rights not to say so either they are "Trade Secrets" and thus have a protected status, as their loss would be an "undue burden" on Apple, the AWA would fail. Thus the FBI going the route they are.

But the question then arises about "meta information" that is can a trade secret be rendered non secret and thus an undue burden by knowledge of it's existance but not it's method. There is case law around to suggest this is the case, thus if the court agrees on argument then the FBI will fail It's all very messy, but then it tends to be when you bring politics into a court to try to make case law, to get arround the fact that the legislation making arms of Government have said no on repeated occasions.

It worries me that an entire nations privacy and security falls to which bunch of lawyers can better bamboozle a judge Arguably it can not without further secret knowledge known only to Apple. And as history has shown secret knowledge of high value does not remain secret for very long. But there is another issue, Apple could have put in anti-tamper "copy protection" etc code into the original iPhone software, it's not overly difficult and something that has been done for over a quater of a century in various ways. If Apple have then it's game over even if Apple gave a copy of their software update signing key to the FBI.

The FBI would have to go another route via the hardware it's self and try to get at those hidden variables. It seems you know very little about how the law actually works. You can be jailed indefinitely for refusing to testify in both criminal and civil cases. That is compelled speech and it is very much constitutional.

But also irrelevant in this case, because unpublished unlock code will not be considered speech. Although not applicable in this case, in the US one cannot be compelled to testify against oneself.

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Look up something called the 5th amendment to the US constitution. Equivalents exist in quite some other democratic countries too. Please be so kind as to back up your claim with pointers or references. It makes for a more intelligent and informed discussion than just spouting unsubstantiated opinions, wouldn't you say?

Clive Robinson I think it's more of political posturing rather than security of the software patch although if the entire iPhone architecture was truely designed to respect user's privacy and personal security, it would have, as many of us mentioned, only react to the updates and execute them once the user which is already dead keys in the iPhone PIN or password to authenticate and authorize the update of any sorts. This case would set a precedent that governments can compel device manufacturers to develop and install malware on their devices.

VPN software can't protect information that's accessed using a compromised device. If Apple has backups of their servers, why couldn't they restore the password to its previous value I realize that's less trivial than just doing a simple restore? Then the FBI could plug the phone in and let it sync to iCloud. So should jelly donuts - they kill nearly people every day due to heart disease. And cars! Cars kill almost as many people as guns. We should all live in a world with rounded edges and padded walls Currently there is a rado talk show on Apple vs. It's only a matter of time before a government agency of some type requests that PINs be stored "in the cloud" - with either the manufacturer or cellphone provider.

Maybe apple should just add a "erase after x days" feature? Similar to erasing after a number of failed PIN attempts, the user could have the option to wipe their phone if it hasn't been unlocked in a user-specified period of days. Odds are most people with a smartphone, at least the ones who would enable this feature, don't go more than a couple days without unlocking their phone. This would make the issue a moot point if the phone sat in custody for more than a week.

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Of course it would have to be a low-level function so as not to be bypassed, but I'm sure apple could work that out. Outside the US hermit kingdom there are grownup countries with independent courts that don't hide from the law of privacy and diplomatic communications. In the same post, in response to herman, I also claim that, whether the NSA is able to crack iPhones or not, it would not share that secret with the FBI. Very logic[k]al. Apple's argument is rotten at the core. If you've already bitten into that bright, shiny, polished, deliciously ripe press release, think twice before swallowing.

It's agreed that the vulnerability in question already exists. It's there.

No one forced Apple to create the vulnerability. The post here reprises the vulnerability-exploit-rapid-proliferation postulate. That is, a vulnerability once known will lead to the creation of at least one exploit and that exploit exploits will rapidly proliferate. If you truly believe that once a vulnerability exists it will not be long "tomorrow" if I take the above post literally before it is exploited, then it makes little difference to the security of anyone who owns this phone - or ANY phone with the same vulnerability - that Apple utilize it to unlock this phone.

And in that case, the balance of equities here is clear. On the one hand, there is no significant gain in security by Apple not doing as the court has ordered; on the other hand, a device belonging to a known terrorist, used by that terrorist, and possibly containing intelligence or evidence of value, will remain inaccessible if Apple does comply with the court order. In other words Bruce, your own premise compels the conclusion that from an ethical vantage Apple ought comply with the order. The vulnerability is known, the device is insecure, and as it will in short order be exploited anyway if it hasn't already, we may as well exploit this particular phone sooner in case there exists perishable intelligence on the device.

I can see the counterpoint: "yes, but if firms and individuals can be required by a court to aid the government in exploiting a particular device, then we will all be less secure, because this effectively means that the government can enlist their aid in exploiting any class of devices they have created.

However, the counterpoint elides the fact that the assistance that the US Government can request has sharp limits. The government cannot ask for the unreasonable.

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The government cannot ask Apple - in this case - to spend a year figuring out how to unlock the phone, for example, while neglecting its business. Or rather it could, but the court would reject this. Nor is the court ordering Apple to alter products it sells to its customers. Apple is free to design devices to whatever security specifications it pleases. Nor is the court ordering Apple to just "find some way" to unlock the phone. That would also be unreasonable. Let me put this another way. The court order is not a mechanism by which the government can achieve mandated backdoors or enlist companies on broad fishing expeditions for vulnerabilities and exploits to be used at the government's discretion in the future.

Instead the court order is a mechanism by which the court may require a company to open an identiifed door that the company installed itself on its own initiative. And it is a door to a room that the government, acting on behalf of the public, has a compelling interest in being able to enter. This framing of the issue as requiring Apple to "create something new" is beside the point.

Essentially the "new"-ness of the software would be one factor considered under a "reasonableness" analysis. The question is how difficult or burdensome is it for Apple to do this.

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That the software is new may make it more difficult; but not all new software is hard to write. Some new software is quite easy to write. Indeed, some software is designed quite deliberately to ease the process of altering it as needed; and some entities that regularly alter certain software develop tools and processes to render modifications easier to design and deliver.

The other arguments raised on Apple's behalf are not persuasive either. This is not a free speech issue. CALEA does not apply the way that some here seem to believe nor quite frankly am I sure that those people have thought through the implications of their argument. And it is irrelevant as to whether county or federal personnel made a mistake in resetting the password this does not affect either the public interest in access or the court's power to compel reasonable assistance - but I suppose the issue has muddied the water for some.

Apple adorned that press release with every right-to-privacy buzzword it could find.

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