Occasionally we veer off the usual home decorating but this post does have to do with the home.
With Apple & the FBI in the news lately over unlocking information from the San Bernadino terrorists’ phone, it just seemed fitting to ponder an even larger question about what creating “backdoor” entries to smart phones and devices could mean. But, Apple already wants to unlock your door!
Apple applied for a patent in 2013 for using technology that would apply to automated home systems with the vision for money-making home apps down the road. Well, the future is now and HomeKit apps exist.
The full title of the patent is the following:
“System and method of determining location of wireless communication devices/persons for controlling/adjusting operation of devices based on the location.“
According to Fast Company, “Apple’s patent imagines everything from your TV to your tablet to your car would communicate, through a hub device, to your home’s thermostat, lighting system, telephone, dishwasher, stove and so on. By using “trigger” devices and events, such as detecting your car pulling into the parking space or your cellphone crossing the threshold at the front door, the house would be able to preemptively respond, perhaps by unlocking the front door as your car arrives or turning the coffee machine on as you walk in the door.”
OK, granted a phone is a phone but where’s your inter sanctum — safe haven? Your home!
Can you imagine if the technology to unlock private information was obtainable by hackers on your phone, then everyone could be at risk and in their own home.
It’s worth noting that Apple’s patent doesn’t take into account who the user is or if that user is home. This will keep you up at night if your phone is hacked through a backdoor entry, and even scarier, you might not know you’ve been hacked. Already, we’ve gotten used to our movements being monitored when we’re out and about and get info from our smart phone for travel or where to eat, etc. But what about movement in and out of our homes, with others possibly watching and knowing they can break in? You would think this would send security officials and government high-ups into a tizzy in their own homes, so why ask for such an entry if it can be misused?
By the way, this will give you a little peace of mind, when searching this patent, we came across another similar one just published in February 2016. It can help anticipate whether the user is “securely welcomed” or not by using a moveable barrier that acts as a sensor. Kinda like a firewall with multiple components having to be in place before entry. Also, based on this 9to5Mac report, Apple isn’t quite there with their HomeKit and updates are in the works but here are the latest gadgets to work with it.
We’re not crime experts or technological gurus but it seems the easiest way to solve the latest dispute between the FBI, who doesn’t want Apple to create backdoor entry technology on all phones but to help them unlock certain information that pertains to national security that can be used on specific phones, is to be having the conversation in private. The overall concern is if the technology was created, then it would be highly coveted for bad guys to have. This article from Ars Technica does a great job of explaining the nuances in this case in understandable language and why the technology shouldn’t need to be created, when technology for entry already exists by Apple to use.
We’re BIG Apple fans, but did Apple jump the gun perhaps by “anticipating” the government wanted more than it was asking? Did the FBI bluster attempts by strong arming Apple? Were court orders really needed? Can they be thrown out? We’re not sure but here are Apple’s 10 Legal Points in the iPhone Encryption Case. Could both parties be talking past one another? Apple has helped the FBI in the past with encryption and other security cases. We all want the same thing, the convenience that comes with smart technology AND security.
Fast Company had this to say in their post about Why the FBI Chose to Try the Encryption Case in the Media: “In sealed cases, the attorneys on both sides are afforded the chance to hash out an agreement in private. Had the current case been kept under seal, Apple may have been more willing to create a one-time hardware or software key to unlock Farook’s iPhone. The knowledge that such a key existed would never have been made public, could never have been known to cyber thieves and other bad actors. It’s also possible that Apple rejected that request weeks ago, and only then did the FBI seek an order in a public court.”
Unfortunately, the public knows too much now and at the same time may never know the details of why; although, the next ruling will be on March 22.
Just thinking on a larger scope, the problems for creating backdoor entries could be a Pandora’s box as well as set a precedent. But, do backdoor entries actually have to be created when backups already exist in the iCloud and Apple has possession of that information already?
Remember, Apple already wants to unlock your door with their technology for the home so why can’t they work with the FBI for unlocking terrorist’s doors too — and behind closed doors?
While you may be pondering this post, Fast Company has done a good job of showing Apple’s rise to fame in this video.