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Apple vs US government - some random thoughts

Apple is getting a lot of good publicity for their resistance to a US court order to unlock an iPhone.

The US government could have chosen another example of an iPhone they want unlocked.  The choice of a terrorism related case is no accident.
It’s possible that the iPhone 5c in this case can be unlocked, despite Apple’s current statements.
However the same doesn’t seem to apply to a iPhone 6 which uses a separate system to lock and encrypt the device.
Trail of Bits has a detailed explanation of the issues and technology involved.
It raises some issues that are relevant to Office users:
  • When reading about Apple’s ‘brave’ stand on this issue, keep in mind that the company complies with other data mining from the US government courtesy of the Patriot Act.  The same applies to all US companies and extends to data well beyond US borders.
  • If the US government gets their way, it would allow access to anyones  iPhone.  And if there’s a backdoor, however well intentioned, it won’t just be available to the ‘good guys’.  Hackers, criminals and, yes, even well organised terrorists can use the same backdoor. Your private Office documents and Outlook app mails could be read by anyone.
  • Does Apple’s stand on customer privacy also extend to data stored on their servers like iCloud?  There’s a double-standard here … Apple is protecting iPhones/iPads from intrusion while ignoring the real privacy concerns about documents and info stored ‘in the cloud’.
  • How much useful data would the government get from the phone?  Surely most, if not all, the phone data is backed-up to Apple’s own cloud servers?
  • We’ve not heard from the other two majors smartphone players – Google and Microsoft.  Other companies might support Apple’s position, but have less secure devices.   If they don’t have similar user-only encryption on their devices, they’d better get moving.  And any public support for Apple has to include properly secure devices for their customers.
  • Bitlocker is Microsoft major boast when it comes to data encryption.  Could a similar US government order force Microsoft to unlock a computer?  If Bitlocker is properly designed, that should NOT be possible.  With this news from Apple, Microsoft should make their position clear.
  • OneDrive is just an open door to governments and Microsoft, if they want to read your documents.  It badly needs a proper encryption option so that only the customer can access the files.
  • The Outlook apps for iPhone and Android are a privacy joke and definitely NOT recommended.  Your personal data, especially login name/password is routed through a Microsoft Azure server.  That means your email connection is exposed to Microsoft and governments.   That’s unlike almost any other program or app including Outlook for Windows/Mac or the Mail/Calendar/Contacts apps supplied with your device.

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