As everyone is now aware the Federal Bureau of Investigation has acquired a court order requiring that Apple create a back-door to the iPhone that would allow bypassing the protection provided by strong encryption.
Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, has strenuously objected to this order on the grounds that providing a back-door will make everyone less safe. You can read Apple’s reasoning and response here.
Like Apple, here at Townsend Security we create encryption products that do not have back-doors or ways to bypass security. We do not hold any encryption keys that would allow us to have access to customer information, and we also believe that this makes our customers that much safer. This approach is strongly supported by the security and cryptographic communities who have noted that law enforcement agencies have many other effective tools to help them prevent crimes.
I am in complete agreement with Tim Cook’s response and support his efforts to quash this initiative on the part of the FBI. Like Tim, we are appalled at the violence that took place in San Bernardino. I grew up close by and have family in the area. I believe that I can understand the fear that people feel. But we are all immensely safer when the technology products we use implement the best possible security.
I also have a great respect and admiration for local, state, and federal law enforcement. They are tasked with an unbelievably difficult and often dangerous job. They work hard every day to keep us safe and I know they want to have all of the tools they need to accomplish that job. In the case of encryption back-doors, we should have a dialogue as a people before handing this tool to law enforcement. The time for that dialogue is now.
It should be clear to everyone that providing back-doors that circumvent strong encryption protections will be the immediate target of cyber-criminals and state sponsored hackers. The risk to to those struggling for freedom against tyrannical regimes is truly frightening. Further, there will be an immediate loss of trust in US products that implement such back-doors. This is not good for Apple’s business or any US business that relies on the trust of its customers across the world. The damage to US commercial interests would certainly be quite large.
There is nothing certain about life and we all must face our many fears. Individually and as a people we do better when we face life from a place of courage and confidence. I strongly support Apple in their efforts to stop this unfortunate attempt to weaken their products and therefore the safety of their customers.