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Unlocking iPhone & Cybersecurity

Will Unlocking Apple's iPhone Also Unlock a Pandora's Box?

BU Research (03/04/16) Sara Rimer

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation's pressure on Apple to write new code so it can unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists threatens to undermine U.S. cybersecurity, according to Boston University professor Sharon Goldberg.

In an interview, Goldberg notes there are other sources--the phone company, the phone's global-positioning system, as well as others--that can be tapped to reveal unencrypted sensitive information. She also cites a report refuting law enforcement officials' argument that companies' growing use of encryption for iPhones and other devices is obstructing their ability to collect data for surveillance, when increasing Internet use is creating more opportunities to gather data on people.

Of particular concern for Goldberg is the likelihood that Apple will create an entirely new set of vulnerabilities hackers could use to attack innocent users, if it develops new software that negates the iPhone's password security. "Apart from giving increasing numbers of people access to this sensitive code, it also means that Apple's code-signing key would have to be used frequently," she warns.

In the event this key is stolen or exposed, malefactors could load malware onto any Apple phone, Goldberg notes. "This would be a step backward at a time when we need to improve cybersecurity, not weaken it," she says.

Boston University link to story: