Can Apple crack the San Bernardino killers' iPhone for the FBI? Sure, if they build an 'FBiOS'

An Apple logo at a retail location in San Francisco, 2014. REUTERS

The iPhone battle between the FBI and Apple isn't about getting help unlocking a terrorist's phone. It's about our government forcing Apple to invent a customized-on-demand version of its iOS operating system, effectively stripped of all security and privacy features. Command performance coding. As security researcher Dan Guido describes it in his widely cited technical explainer blog post, what they're asking for is an 'FBiOS.'

After the mass shootings in San Bernardino, FBI investigators seized shooter Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone. It was his work phone, and the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health gave the government the green light to search their employee's work device. The FBI is having a hard time bypassing the phone's security, which says something great about Apple.

In his explainer blog post, Dan Guido offers a comprehensive technical analysis of whether it's technically possible for Apple to comply with the court's order to do what the FBI demands, and create special software just for the government, coded to the government's specifications, to crack the phone without data loss.

Can Apple do this? Probably. Had Farook used an iPhone 6, this discussion might be different. But yes, what the FBI's asking for looks like it may be technically possible.


But this isn't about whether Apple can do what the government demands. It's about whether they should.

This is the slipperiest of slippery slopes, guys. If you think this makes sense, will you feel the same about the government demanding backdoors or software rewrites in every other technology device or service you use? How about when China demands backdoors in everything? The whole world is watching.

Read Dan Guido's post here, or listen to the Risky Business podcast episode where he discusses his analysis in detail.

Previously on Boing Boing:
• "Rallies planned at Apple stores to protest the FBI's crusade to hack your iPhone"

• "FBI demands iPhone backdoor access; Tim Cook tells them to get lost"

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