Following earlier whispers that Apple was working on implementing a stronger encryption on its iPhones, the New York Times has learned that the company has already started developing that new security system, which would make it impossible for the government to break into a locked handset using similar methods that are at the centre of the legal debate with the FBI.
If the upgrade is completed, it will create a “significant technical challenge for law enforcement agencies”, say security experts, even if the government wins the current legal battle against Apple over accessing data stored on the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino gunmen, Syed Farook.
So, if the FBI wants to break into a locked iPhone, it will need to pick up another legal fight against Apple. Experts interviewed by the NYT say the only way out of this never-ending cycle of court battles is by getting Congress involved.
For Apple, security is also a global marketing strategy: It is aiming to reassure its investors and customers with the new security measures it is currently working on.
It is worth noting that Apple would allow firmware to be modified without requiring a user password. This is a troubleshooting system built into every iPhone that is designed to make it easier to repair malfunctioning phones. As a result, there is a vulnerability that the FBI wants to exploit with the iPhone involved in the San Bernardino case.
The catch is, the vulnerability also applies to newer models. Apple engineers are aware of that vulnerability and are working on a fix.