Security Overhaul in iPhone7

On September 7, 2016, Apple, Inc. (“Apple”) revealed it’s much anticipated new product, the iPhone 7.1 The iPhone 7’s reveal was met with mixed reviews, with much of the focus on the company’s decision to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack, in an attempt to push users to wireless headphones.2 However, lost in the debate, over whether Apple made a mistake in removing the headphone jack from its new product, was the overhaul Apple had made in the security of their products.

On February 2016, a United States Magistrate Judge issued an order pursuant to the All Writs Act, that directed Apple to assist the Federal Bureau of Investigation (“FBI”) in bypassing the passcode security feature of the iPhone 5c.3 The order requested that Apple develop a new version of the iPhone’s operating system that would allow the FBI to circumvent the phone’s encryption and security systems.4 In response, Apple declined and the CEO, Tim Cook, released a letter to Apple’s customers addressing the order and insisted that the company would not acquiesce the request or honor any similar requests in the future.5 Further, Cook stated, “In today’s digital world, the ‘key’ to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”6

As a result of Apple’s refusal to create the software, Apple and the FBI were set to appear in Court on March 22nd, 2016. However, the FBI claimed to have found a third-party who was capable of bypassing the phone’s security and subsequently withdrew its request.7 While the case may have ended when the request was withdrawn, the issue still continues to be a hot topic in the world of technology. In response to the standoff between Apple and the FBI, may major competitors such as Facebook and Google pledged their support for Apple and vowed to implement their own version of encryption on their software’s.

In response to the case, Apple had a major commitment to the security and encryption of their software and products.8 Apple has gone on to state that they believe they are the “most effective security organization in the world.”9 With the release of the newest iPhone and operating system, Apple has added many features that are aimed to better protect their customers’ data and information. iPhone’s will now utilize Apple File System (“APFS”) which “improves the way information is organized and protected to make it faster and more secure.”10 The APFS will introduce many new encryption and security features that will make it much more difficult for hackers to access information stored on Apple products.

As Apple continues to introduce new innovations to the way in which they protect their customers’ data and information, the FBI will find it increasingly difficult to bypass the security features and access the information they desire. Undoubtedly, it will be very interesting to see where the battle over information between technology companies and the FBI goes from here.

  1. Apple Inc., http://www.apple.com/apple-events/september-2016/ (last visited Oct. 6, 2016).
  2. Zach Epstein, All the Biggest Complaints About the iPhone 7, Yahoo Tech.: BGR News (Sep. 20, 2016), https://www.yahoo.com/tech/biggest-complaints-iphone-7-151108525.html.
  3. http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/SB-Shooter-Order-Compelling-Apple-Asst-iPhone.pdf
  4. See id.
  5. Tim Cook, A Message to Our Customers, Apple Inc. (Feb. 16, 2016), https://www.apple.com/customer-letter/.
  6. Id.[/note[ Much of the public responded very negatively to the government’s attempt to force Apple to compromise the security of their own products. Senator Ron Wyden stated that, “If upheld, this decision could force U.S. technology companies to actually build hacking tools for government against their will, while weakening cybersecurity for millions of Americans in the process.”[note]Jenna McLaughlin, Apple Slams Order to Hack a Killer’s iPhone, Inflaming Encryption Debate, The Intercept: Unofficial Sources (Feb. 17, 2016), https://theintercept.com/2016/02/17/apple-slams-order-to-hack-a-killers-iphone-inflaming-encryption-debate/.
  7. Lauren Goode, Apple Says it has the ‘Most Effective Security Organization in the World’, The Verge: Apple Tech (Apr. 15, 2016), http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/15/11438778/apple-iphone-engineers-security-briefing-FBI-government-hackers.
  8. Nathaniel Mott, Take that, FBI: Apple Goes All In on Encryption, The Guardian (Jun. 15, 2016), https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/jun/15/apple-fbi-file-encryption-wwdc.
  9. Lauren Goode, Apple Says it has the ‘Most Effective Security Organization in the World’, The Verge: Apple Tech (Apr. 15, 2016), http://www.theverge.com/2016/4/15/11438778/apple-iphone-engineers-security-briefing-FBI-government-hackers.
  10. Id.