October 4, 2016 —
Remember back a few months ago when all the hoopla about the privacy case chest thumping going on between Apple and the FBI, and a few other federal entities over that locked terrorist’s iPhone? While that wasn’t over any security breaches, it did bring up an interesting enigma.
There has been an uptake in high-profile security breaches lately – hacking the political parties, Facebook, Myspace, now Yahoo. And there is talk that elections may be hacked. The list goes on and will continue to go on. But how come, when that Apple-FBI spat was going on, Apple, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, and countless others all came out in support of Apple’s right to protect privacy.
That conflict brought to the surface the hypocrisy of these companies and how they often have a double standard. After all, isn’t compromising our privacy exactly what they have been doing to us for years? Following everything we do. Catching our locations 24/7 and analyzing what we buy, where we buy it, how often we buy it, where we eat, what we eat…need I go on?
Originally, Apple claimed unlocking the phone will put millions of devices at risk for hacking. Yet for years Apple, and the rest of these hypocritical entities have been snooping around our computers, phones, tablets etc. And not once did they tell me they were doing, because the permission I “gave” them to do so deep in the EULA where no human could possibly stay awake long enough to find it.
And, behind the scenes they are developing the ability to capture even more data – Big Data. These same privacy advocates will take this Big Data and analyze it a million different ways. Next, they sell it to any number of retailers who can now send us every conceivable item, offer, discount, vacation, food, restaurants…yada yada at exactly the right time.
Yet, at their convenience, they have all seemed to reverse their philosophies over that one incident. And no one called them on it. And, not that the government is blameless, either. But at least they admit it when they get caught (most of the time, anyway).
Every one of my professional contacts, in the silicon business, have told me the same thing, and more than once. There isn’t a piece of silicon, an app, code, networks, or systems that can’t be hacked, given enough resources (read, time and money). When that occurred, a security expert told me that the government could easily have hacked that phone, before the failsafe 10 tries is exceeded and the phone wipes the critical data. But the price tag was about a million dollars, using zero-day vulnerabilities, but I can’t see it being about the money.
Another one of my close sources, who designs cryptography chips, says that every chip manufacturer keeps a doomsday hack that can be used to access their chips if it becomes absolutely necessary, no matter what they say.
But, this was a special case. The FBI didn’t want this data because it was bored. Wasn’t that data potential evidence in a criminal case – and an especially heinous case at that?
So was that epic government vs. corporate battle? Is Apple testing the water, under the guise of privacy, to see if a company has finally become more powerful than a government? And is the government looking to assert its power and rights to breach security at any cost? An interesting paradox, in any event, no matter what the reasons were at the time.
One of my sources says that it is about the government bullying Apple. Had they ask nice, Apple would have been more than happy to help. Personally, I doubt that. Apple is an arrogant company that has a highly overrated, fabricated, and elevated opinion about themselves (unless you’re an Apple groupie). I know I worked with them for years until the turn of the century. They aren’t going to change their snooping spots no matter how much attention is paid to them (nor are any of the other organizations for that matter).
I revisited this because there has been no change in anything. TV’s that are capable of listening in on your conversations and watching what you do on your personal electronics, without you knowing it, for example, are still legal. Your personal data isn’t any more secure today than it was last year. In fact, it may even be less secure. As wireless devices get more and more sophisticated, as vehicles become another link in the wireless chain, as everything from socks to cities become smart, every wireless device will broadcast everything you do in the name of preemptive convenience. And Big Data will be able to make sense out of all the superficial data.
So here’s the thing. That incident could have brought a lot of security issues to the surface. It could have brought security to the center of the radar screen. But somehow, once the phone got unlocked, all of that went away. Why? Because security is expensive – from phones to vehicles, to the cloud and the internet of anything/everything (IoX). And, the wireless industry is still way behind when it comes to security.
How many high-level security breaches is it going to take before wireless finally takes security seriously?