Wednesday, March 30, 2016

(The Big Disrupt) Apple: why apple has lost it's fight with the FBI

As the Apple v FBI scrap comes to an end, the FBI's revealing that it can hack iPhone without Apple's assistance is a body blow of mass proportion for the Cupertino based tech giant.  

The FBI's announcement arguably leaves Apple in worse position than if they complied with the court order as if Apple complied with the order they would have at least  been able to monitor the data FBI was accessing. However, with the FBI revealing it can hack into Apple's iPhone and sparing no details on how they did it, the FBI has effectively destroyed the credibility of Apple's devices.  

The FBI clearly were playing a long game with Apple by first pursuing a overreaching court order they knew Apple wouldn't comply with  creating a very public debate about a complex issue where there's no easy answers.  

The FBI in truth could have found a way to get round Apple's robust encryption practices long before this point but the FBI, who have been one step behind Apple since it started taking encryption of its products seriously back in 2014, has in one announcement undermined Apple stance on consumer privacy and the security of their devices. 

What's worse is that Apple from this point onwards won't have a clue when the FBI force entry into their devices which means they can't even keep a track on the FBI accessing their customer private information. This is bad news for Apple  as the FBI's announcement could destroy the B2B market for their devices as organizations across the board have become more security conscious than ever and are less likely to invest in devices that can be compromised by law enforcement. 

FBI's announcement will certainly affect sales of their devices in Europe as the continent in the post Snowden age have become more aware and as a result taken an aggressive stance towards Silicon Valley giants on a wide range of issues including privacy. 

However, the wider implications of the FBI's announcement is that Apple, unless the FBI reveals their new method for accessing devices,  won't be able to improve their security position. What this means in practice is that because the FBI has found a way to access their devices and  aren't going to reveal how they did it, Apple can't make security updates which seriously increases their devices vulnerability to attacks. 

Worst still, if the FBI doesn't reveal how it accessed Apple's iPhone, it's only a matter before law enforcement and intelligence agencies in other countries find and exploit the weakness in Apple's encrypted devices and end up being subject to a precedent they fought so hard against back in February till now. 

In sum, the FBI announcement demonstrated that they're good at framing public debates and even better at strategy but the real takeaway from the FBI and Apple clash is that the real losers are consumers.  

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