Tim Cook Reveals That the FBI Wanted Him to Create an iOS Backdoor
Image Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook has revealed that the FBI wanted him to create an iOS backdoor following the San Bernardino shooting, in what would have been an “unprecedented step” that “threatens the security” of Apple users.
The San Bernardino terrorist attack saw 14 people killed and 22 injured, with the US government using this tragedy in order to request that Apple install a security bypass into iOS devices that would allow the FBI to gain remote entry. Cook called the request “an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.”
Writing in an open letter to Apple’s customers posted on the company’s official site, Cook revealed that the US government had requested that Apple develop a backdoor in order for them to gain entry to users’ iOS devices. Cook wrote: “The FBI wants us to make a new version of the iPhone operating system, circumventing several important security features, and install it on an iPhone recovered during the investigation. In the wrong hands, this software — which does not exist today — would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”
He continued: “The FBI may use different words to describe this tool, but make no mistake: Building a version of iOS that bypasses security in this way would undeniably create a backdoor. And while the government may argue that its use would be limited to this case, there is no way to guarantee such control.”
Discussing the security issues that installing such a backdoor could raise, Cook continued: “The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.
“The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.”
Though Cook concluded that he feels “the FBI’s intentions are good,” he noted how it was important to “speak up” regarding this matter, feeling that it is “an overreach by the US government.”