Why Apple Shouldn’t Create a Security Backdoor

Our modern world is full of contradictions, on one hand technology is enabling us to progress as a society and collaborative working allows digital natives across the global community to work together seamlessly. However, on the flip side of this coin, we are living in dangerous times that consist of terrorism, crime, fraud and serious international conflicts.

Once again a high-profile case has got everybody talking about the encryption that keeps our digital lifestyle secure. It all started when the Federal Bureau of Investigation ordered Apple to unlock the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters. The argument is no longer about the fight against terrorism but authorities requesting to lower security settings to build a backdoor to the iPhone.

Apple CEO Tim Cook posted an open letter opposing the order #unlockiphone and called for a public debate on the contentious issue. This is one of the few occasions that both Android and Apple users can agree on something. The overall consensus is that wearing security and, more importantly, the encryption that protects our devices is a very dangerous idea.

Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks,” — Tim Cook

Any weakening of encryption on the Apple iPhone could also hand over the keys to the bad guys at a time we are being encouraged to add our bank and credit cards onto our phones to make the most of Apple Pay. This is the same week that the Hollywood Presbyterian medical center is currently being held to ransom for $3.6 million dollars before the hackers release the medical records and test results of hospital patients.

There is an increasing awareness that our critical infrastructure is showing signs of vulnerability while we continue to add devices to networks and security breaches become an almost every day occurrence.

The big question raised is not should the government be able to access my data but if encryption is weakened to provide authorities access, will it also open a back door to my personal information for the bad guys?

Encryption is a security tool we rely on every day to stop criminals from draining our bank accounts, to shield our cars and airplanes from being taken over by malicious hacks — ITIC

There is a certain amount of irony in authorities seeking to defend their populace from harm by suggesting a solution that fundamentally weakens our security. The weakening of encryption will create vulnerabilities and will ultimately result in exposing the very national security it is trying to protect.

Technology dominates every aspect of our lives, and I suspect we are guilty of not stopping to understand the magnitude of what would happen if we were to weaken encryption for the greater good. This lack of knowledge and understanding of the infrastructure that all of our shiny devices that “just work” is in many ways incredibly dangerous when making changes without comprehending the impact and implications it will have in almost every area of our life.

This simple post is not about starting a debate on the pro’s and cons of a snoopers charter for the greater good but raising the lack of awareness of how the technology that rules our lives is protected. There seems to be a disconnect between governments understanding of this and they now find themselves being advised in the public arena by a corporation such as Apple, which in itself is more cause for concern.

Technology is progressing much faster than regulations, legislation or policy changes, and authorities are clearly struggling to keep up with this fast pace and fail to understand the dangers of creating a secret backdoor to private information. This latest episode highlights the knowledge and skills gap between those who does and doesn’t understand the technology we take for granted in our everyday lives.

While Donald Trump openly criticises Apple for opposing the iPhone ‘Backdoor’ order saying ‘who do they think they are?’ it would very easy to jump on the bandwagon shouting ‘open it up’ along with the large crowds of supporters.

However, we need to exercise extreme caution before rushing into weakening the encryption that our protects both our personal devices and almost every aspect of our critical infrastructure. The most worrying aspect of these latest reports is that governments and authorities seem to have very little understanding of technology the dangers of removing encryption or lowering security.

Do you Agree or Disagree? Please let me know your opinions on this story that will affect each and every one of us by commenting below.


You can also connect on Twitter at @neilchughes or contact me via my site Technology Blog Writer if you want to reach out or appear on my podcast.

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