What Can-Can’t Apple Do-Do?

One of the big controversies du jour is whether Apple should unencrypt the iPhone belonging to Syed Farook who, with his wife, shot and killed 14 people and wounded 20 others at the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health on December 2, 2015. The controversy is whether Apple should break its own encryption to allow authorities access to any significant information and clues as to the possibility of further attacks or not so as to protect user privacy and prevent future hackers from breaking into these smartphones.

An otherwise harmless iPhone 6

Listening to local radio talk shows and watching network news, there is no shortage of opinion on the subject. Both sides are equally vehement in their opinions and equally divided, pro and con. If one is for Apple cracking its own code, one is viewed as a pro-government, anti-privacy, scared-of-one’s-own-shadow kind of person. If one is against Apple’s intervention, one may be viewed as a conspiracy kook or, worse, unpatriotic.

Essentially, who the hell cares? Opinions are like ear wax, everybody has some. As people involved with technology as a profession, why not ask what Apple can or can’t do without being bringing philosophy, theology, ideology, and politics, threadbare issues at best, into the conversation? What can the scientists at Apple do to this iPhone? In other words, scientific facts first, philosophy and politics (and perhaps a donnybrook or two) over drinks later.

On that note, can you provide an unbiased and technologically-sound answer to these questions:

  • Can Apple just hack into a singular iPhone and extract all of its data?
  • If so, what would be involved? If not, why?
  • Would the decrypting of one iPhone compromise the entire iPhone line?
  • If so, how? If not, why?

If you want to read more of the “opinion-based” story, click HERE.

~MD

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