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Iphone-as-a-weapon: back to 1991 (or: why you can’t trust commercial grade security)

The Iphone vs FBI quarrel about the “need” of Apple’s support to hack into an Iphone switches back the clock to 1991, when Phil Zimmermann gave PGP to the rest of the world, infringing the US veto on encryption export. So, this Apple vs FBI thing is actually nothing new since the position of the supporter for the two arguments is still the same.

But there is a new perspective, though, that worth to be considered and that wasn’t that spread at Zimmermann’s time: the role of non-for-profit, personal encryption.

A company, like Apple, sooner or later will comply with the disclose/hack support order by a court. It is just matter of finding a way to minimize the sales impact of such compliance.

Open-source, NGO, non-for-profit created encryption, on the contrary, has neither an “owner” nor a “CEO” who can be ordered to do something “nasty”. Furthermore, open-source based encryption already gives “the good guys” all the information they need to break the ciphers that endanger their investigation.

The point, though, is another: the FBI didn’t ask for the Iphone security’s blueprints. They just wanted a “tool” to exploit the gimmick, with no actual need to understand how would it works. And to me this is a nightmare scenario. I might trust a forensic expert who does his job in a lab, but I have some “problem” acknowledging the fact that every single law enforcement agent, with no actual competence, might have such a powerful tool to be used without actual supervision.

Again, we go back in time: who will watch the watchers?

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