Specifically, the FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession. The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.For a while it looked like Apple and the FBI's opposing views were on a collision course, until the law enforcement agency suddenly dropped its request and revealed that it had found a way to break into Farook's iPhone without Apple's help.
"While a phone can still be charged, a person would first need to enter the phone’s password to transfer data to or from the device using the port."This so-called "USB Restricted Mode" will, of course, require iTunes users wishing to transfer their data via the Lightning port to the iPhone to take an extra step. They will need to unlock the device with a passcode before transferring their music and podcast choices if it has been more than an hour since the iPhone was first locked. In short, the window of opportunity for anyone (whether they be law enforcement agencies or not) to crack into a locked iPhone using tools like GrayKey appears to have reduced dramatically. A statement from Apple confirmed that it was making the changes to secure better the privacy of all iPhone users, rather than to stymie the efforts of police investigations:
"We’re constantly strengthening the security protections in every Apple product to help customers defend against hackers, identity thieves and intrusions into their personal data. We have the greatest respect for law enforcement, and we don’t design our security improvements to frustrate their efforts to do their jobs."Apple's security engineers have worked tirelessly for years, strengthening the iOS operating system from hackers, and things have measurably improved since the San Bernardino gunman's iPhone 5C was first released. This latest step is unlikely to win much favour with law enforcement agents keen to break into iPhones, but should be welcomed by the vast majority of users who simply want their devices to prioritise security and privacy. Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this guest author article are solely those of the contributor, and do not necessarily reflect those of Tripwire, Inc.