Friday, March 4, 2016

What Happens If the FBI Beats Apple?



The battle for the San Bernardino iPhone is raging in the news and it’s pointing a large light on just how important mobile data has become.  This case will cause precedence on how a government entity will be allowed to request, or have direct access to, an individual’s private data. Apple is taking the stance that their user’s privacy is under attack if they give up the ability for others to access it freely. On the flip side the government is under the viewpoint that our national security is at risk if they can’t view it. No matter where you stand on this issue personally, it’s interesting to see that the largest case in country is being focused on mobile data and its corresponding security. This shows just how important the issues of mobile security have become and this case, no matter where you stand on it, proves that our mobile phones need to be secured and we need to understand the long term effects of what this means for mobile vendors, app developers and mobile device users. 

While this case will continually unfold throughout the next couple weeks, it has already shown us that the ability for security is needed and that the final decision could cause have major changes as to how mobile vendors develop their product from a security standpoint. If the ability to have a third party access data, or bypass the encryption, of a mobile device could start a trend of mobile app developers to enable strong encryption or security within their applications. This ability to access a mobile device could cause a stir among mobile app developers to start performing better security and encryption within their app and not rely on the security of the mobile phone as an umbrella. Certain apps pride themselves on security and encryption, E.G Signal, but I wonder if this will cause other apps to follow in their footsteps? Will this cause a windfall of encryption within mobile apps in attempts to have better privacy? And will the same question of encryption that Apples experiencing now occur on apps that have their data encrypted?  It would be an interesting trend to watch for after a decision is made. 

Also, dependent on the ruling of the iPhone case there might a shift of users who want more privacy move towards another mobile vendor. Apple seems to have a very strong following regardless and we saw many security and privacy upgrades made to iOS6, but will this decision end up making a few of these mute and affect Apples bottom line? Will there be users who felt safer on an iPhone before this case leave for another vendor in search of looking for more privacy? Will we see similar requests of the government sent down to Google, Blackberry, Windows, etc to have the same or similar capabilities? Yet again, this is another interesting trend to look for when the dust settles. 

Lastly, if this is the norm going forward will all new vendors that come into the mobile space have to adhere to allowing access, or bypass ability, to their mobile devices and applications? Will this become a standard applied to mobile vendors and application developers as part of their build process? There are many things to consider after the final decision is made on whether or not Apple needs to develop a way to have a third party bypass their encryption. Yes, this helps with national security and yes this could bypass privacy, but the follow ups going forward for mobile vendors regarding security could be long lasting and changing.

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