In the wake of the San Bernardino case, Apple has found itself in the middle of a crisis situation. Numerous online and print publications have noted the importance of Apple’s next move, directly correlated to today’s privacy- and security-related issues.
After a long battle to resist the FBI’s request to open up iOS and allow third-party to retrieve sensitive data, the iPhone manufacturer has officially filed a motion against the court order. As expected, the company argues that this action will not give the government a pass to safely retrieve any information, where the company also noted that no law supports such unprecedented use of the judicial process.
Even though we are talking about one particular case, a piece of information surfaced a couple of days ago, noting that the future of iOS would be in a crisis if Apple didn’t pull a trigger on protecting their smartphones. Even though the U.S. government insists the software would be used in only one case, Apple already pointed out that there are numerous questionable applications for similar orders.
Interestingly enough, Apple’s motion also noted that creating the special version of iOS with “weakened security” would need six to ten engineers dedicating a “substantial portion of their time”, for up to four weeks.
In the wake of the current situation, security analysts predict that Apple would make it harder to hack iPhones. Some even speculate that the iPhone maker has already begun developing a new iOS version with increased security, which would make it impossible for a third-party to access the data.
This action would create a significant challenge for governments around the world, because even Apple won’t be able to access their phones. However, this would protect iPhone users by knowing their devices are as safe as they can be, which also turns out to be an amazing PR solution for the company.
Interestingly enough, making iPhone prone to hacking isn’t as complicated as one might think. The latest iPhone generation comes with a separate chip, called the “Secure Enclave” which stores ID-related safety information on the phone locally. This is part of iOS without iCloud integration, so no one could retrieve the data via wireless connection. However, what the FBI discovered is that Apple could disable and weaken the chip by updating its firmware.
Anyhow, a solution to the current situation would create a new version of the “Secure Enclave”, which doesn’t have the direct and open connection to the rest of iOS system. In other words, even if Apple was not able to control this chip, there would be no way to breach iPhone’s security.
It is generally accepted that Silicon Valley’s tech giant can resist the government’s requests for surveillance and retrieving sensitive data, so it is expected to see a major security upgrade in the next couple of months. Since Apple is known for not confirming any future products and avoiding speculation, we still don’t have any official confirmation.
However, what is certain is that an update like this one could only come with the next major iOS version.