It’s happening. The FBI’s worst nightmare is coming true. Instead of using the tools at its disposal to break into an iPhone recovered from one of the terrorists who carried out the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California this past December, it tried to set a precedent. With the possibility of thwarting future terrorist attacks supporting its argument, the Bureau compelled a court to force Apple to provide it with tools that would allow investigators to hack into the iPhone. Apple appealed the court’s decision though, and it took the fight public.
Now, this ongoing battle is having the worst possible outcome for the FBI: Mobile devices will be more difficult to break into than ever before in the coming months and years, as will mobile apps.
On Tuesday, we told you about some of the effects the FBI’s stance is having on various software companies. In a nutshell, it’s inspiring them to make their apps and services far more secure. This is of course a good thing for users since it will better protect their privacy, but it’s bad for agencies like the FBI since it will often add additional barriers to their investigations.
In the future, apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat will be even more secure than they are today as a direct result of the FBI’s public war on encryption. And now, as was rumored in an earlier report, it has seemingly been confirmed that the FBI’s fight has inspired Apple to work toward making an unhackable iPhone.
The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday night issued a report stating that Apple isn’t just working on strengthening on-device security for iPhones and iPads, it is also working on stronger security for its iCloud service.
Apple has been quite clear in its opposition to the FBI’s request for a special version of its operating system that would allow it to more easily crack iPhone security. However, it has complied with the government’s request to turn over data recovered from San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s iCloud account.
According to The Journal, complying with similar requests won’t be quite so simple. Apple is reportedly working to strengthen iCloud security so that all information stored in a user’s iCloud account is encrypted and cannot be decoded.
There’s no indication that stronger iCloud encryption is coming in the immediate future. Apple is reportedly still wrestling with figuring out how to implement stronger security without harming the user experience. But whether or not the FBI ends up winning the San Bernardino iPhone case, it looks like the Bureau will ultimately lose this war.