Take this with a huge grain of salt, jailbreakers, but the New York Times reported today that Apple is developing security measures that would make its iPhones impossible to hack. The moves come on the heels of Apple’s fight with the U.S. Government over whether they will unlock the phone of an alleged terrorist. The FBI seeks to use certain methods to hack into the phone and Apple is waging a court battle to prevent its device from being hacked.
According to the Times, revelations by Edward Snowden about government surveillance have motivated tech companies like Apple and Google more concerned about attacks by the government. In addition to patching technical issues exploited by jailbreakers, the company wants to create a whole host of other security measures.
As we all know, iPhone has one area that makes it vulnerable to attack: the ability to download firmware on a device without a passcode. The built-in troubleshooting system allows Apple to update the system software easier in the event there is a major malfunction on a phone. With respect to the San Bernardino terrorist, the FBI wants to use that vulnerability to make Apple write new software that takes away some of its security features, enabling law enforcement to hack into the phone. Even though the phone in question is an older model, Apple employees say a similar situation exists to alter software on new models.
Although Apple users would benefit from some security measures, such as encryption in the cloud, Apple has always avoided encryption since many users want it to be easy to retrieve their photographs, music and other information from the cloud.
Will this impact the jailbreaking community? Possibly. Of course, any security measures enacted by Apple can probably still be broken by hackers. Even the company’s fight with the government shows this, since the government seeks an actual court order requiring Apple to write code to hack the terrorist’s phone. Any code written by humans can theoretically be broken.
Here’s what the FBI wants Apple to do:
- Open a backdoor to a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5C.
- Disable the Auto-destruct feature.
- Increase the brute force time to try out all combinations.
- Minimize the time of waiting for a window after each try.
A large part of what Apple allegedly plans to do is make the phone unhackable even by Apple, so that when the government decides it wants access to 12 more phones, as it announced last week, Apple can claim it has no way to comply. The idea of Apple creating a phone that even it cannot hack seems like a stretch.
Apple and other tech giants are battling over how much they must do to comply with the government’s investigations versus how much it does to safeguard consumer data. In the end, the government may be barking up the wrong tree, since criminals and terrorists make begin destroying their devices to avoid detection. Jailbreakers and Apple enthusiasts should watch this case carefully.