The 2nd of December, 2015 was the day that Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik left their six month old daughter with relatives, went to the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health training event and holiday party, which had about 80 employees in attendance in a rented banquet room and opened fire. 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured.
The two fled the venue in a rented sports utility vehicle but were killed a number of hours later when they engaged in a shootout with members of the police force who went after them. President Barack Obama in a prime-time address delivered from the oval office on December 6 had defined the shooting as an act of terrorism. Farook had been an American born U.S citizen of Pakistani descent and his wife, a Pakistani born lawful permanent resident of the United States.
For a couple who had been defined by many who knew them as well-adjusted and quite normal, the actions of that day had got everyone a bit stumped. The big question on the mind of most investigative bodies on the case centered around the method of indoctrination of the couple to the point that they would carry out such an attack and whether it was indeed an individual inspired effort.
A recent court order has asked Apple to help circumvent the security software on Farook’s iPhone, which the FBI is convinced contains crucial information. If you are one of those people who either does not bother reading specifications on devices or cannot understand even if you read them, this new court order has helped reveal a very attractive feature of Apple products. Following a software update released in September 2014, data such as text messages and photographs on Apple devices are encrypted by default.
What this means is that, if the device is locked, only the pass code can be used to access the data and once 10 incorrect attempts have been made, the device automatically erases all its data, if you’ve selected this option. How very clandestine, don’t you think? Not even Apple is able to access the data after its cleared. Wow!
So what the FBI is really asking Apple for in this case is an alteration of Farook’s iPhone that will let them make unlimited attempts at the pass code without risking an erasure of the data. It then wants Apple to also help make a way to rapidly try different pass code combinations, to save tapping in each one manually. Apple has released a statement to that effect where they contest the demand of the court order and call for public opinion.
The company has always fought against requests of this manner that require access to users personal data in the past, for fear that it would jeopardize customer trust. Apple is not the only one that uses this encryption technology, smartphones powered by Google android and some others beside also use similar tech. So although it may be bad news for the FBI now, some of us may also be able to rest easy in the knowledge that our data is very secure.