Apple CEO Tim Cook Makes It Clear That He's Not At All Interested In Giving The Government Backdoors To iOS Encryption

from the good-for-him dept

On Friday morning, we noted that the CEOs of Google, Facebook and Yahoo had declined to appear at the President's cybersecurity summit at Stanford, but that Apple CEO Tim Cook was going. However, we pointed out that all signs suggested Cook was going to send a message that he wasn't going to give in and allow the government a backdoor to iOS encryption. Cook had recently noted that the government "would have to cart us out in a box" before Apple would add a backdoor. And, indeed, speaking right before President Obama's speech, Cook delivered a strong defense of encryption and privacy:
“We believe deeply that everyone has a right to privacy and security,” said Cook. “So much of our information now is digital: photos, medical information, financial transactions, our most private conversations. It comes with great benefits; it makes our lives better, easier and healthier. But at Apple, we have always known this also comes with a great responsibility. Hackers are doing everything they can to steal your data, so we’re using every tool at our disposal to build the most secure devices that we can.”

[....]

“People have trusted us with their most personal and private information and we must give them the best technology we can to secure it,” said Cook. “Sacrificing our right to privacy can have dire consequences. We live in a world where people are not treated equally. There are people who don’t feel free to practice their religion, express their opinion or love who they choose. Technology can mean the difference between life and death.”

[....]

“If we don’t do everything we can to protect privacy, we risk more than money,” said Cook. “We risk our way of life.”
It's great to see tech companies taking a stronger and stronger stand in protecting the privacy of their users and customers. Once again, thank Snowden for actually making this an issue that companies actually need to care about.

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  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 9:59am

    What good is back door encryption when the front door is wide open.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:40am

      Re:

      gubmint needs to be able to spy on its citizens.

      They know they are steering USA to destruction, they need to be able to spy on the people considering the idea that they would defend this nation and its ideals.

      Ever notice how its bigotry to ask someone to speak your own language in your own country but not bigotry for someone to illegally enter, perform identity theft to survive & refuse to speak the common language of the land?

      Sun Tzu knows what the fuck is up. All war is deception... and with the US government deceiving everyone left and right it only means they are at war!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:43am

        Re: Re:

        And the tin foil hat covered in "dirk er jrbs" award goes to....this guy.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Agonistes, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Wow, amazing that the "tinfoil hat" line can still be trotted out not in irony by someone who reads Techdirt.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          you must not read much history do you?

          DHS is actively asking fellow citizens to spy on each other "See something, say something" they even have fucking posters printed for.

          NSA/FBI/Local Joe's has been actively spying on the US citizenry with ever increasing vigor.

          Sure I have a tin foil hat... I wear it when I want to have fun... but you are sort of idiot that has to wait until people are loaded onto trains and shipped to concentration camps before you "realize" something is damn wrong.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            scotts13 (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 1:04pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "DHS is actively asking fellow citizens to spy on each other "See something, say something" they even have fucking posters printed for."

            I remember growing up in the 50's very well. We were constantly told how horrible life in Soviet Russia was, with the government watching everything you did, and encouraging neighbor to turn in neighbor, and child to turn in parent.

            Sound familiar?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:47pm

        Re: Re:

        I would point out that it is bigotry to ask someone to speak English in America is because English is not the national language. There is no national language.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:52pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I would argue that natural languages are riddled with bigotry and ambiguities. (to too two, etc)...English is a terrible auxlang (auxiliary language)....

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:41am

      Re:

      Yea, this....these phones/tablets (and androids, this isn't just an apple thing) are some of the least secure devices out of the box which you can get. It's a nice sentiment, but howsabout we work on locking down the devices a bit out of the box before we worry about what the government is trying to do on the back end?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 1:07pm

        Re: Re:

        Feel like backing that up a bit?
        There's a reason that jailbreaks are getting harder and harder to perform -- it's because the security holes required to do them are getting harder and harder to find.

        But that's securing *Apple's* part of the solution. What about user's data?

        Well, turns out that end-to-end encryption is default now. That means that out of the box, Apple's iOS devices are some of the most secure computing platforms you can get right now.

        Of course, the moment you install any apps, you've lost that security, as you have no way short of an external firewall of preventing those apps from communicating with whoever they want. The security model is fairly good in limiting what information the apps have access to, but you still have to assume that if the app has access to your address book and location data, that means the app's creator (and anyone with access to their encryption key/access to their communication protocol) ALSO has full access to your address book and location data, and can read/modify it all they like. Because there's no (easy) way to verify that they don't.

        But yeah... android devices are pretty insecure out of the box, but iOS devices are actually pretty good -- and you can opt out of most of the iCloud stuff if you don't want a public persistent data store of all your data.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 1:14pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Anyone that knows anything about security knows that the biggest security threat to any device is the user. Your Apple fanboism is sicking and your bold claims are even more disgusting.

          I'm impartial btw to both Apple and Android, but your assumptions about the current state of general security is just flat out WRONG.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 1:19pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well, after installing a custom rom on my Android device I eliminated 80% of all malware that comes preinstalled on most apple and android devices. I have full control over every service that's running and I have no need to install anything beyound my needs. All I use it for is directions and to make phone calls and that's about it and that's all it can do because I MADE IT SO.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          R.H. (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 1:30pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just a note, encryption is enabled by default in the most recent version of Android (5.0 - Lollipop) too.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:30am

    Interesting

    Cook is no Jobs. But it is getting harder to see that as a disadvantage for Apple.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      PRMan, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:50am

      Re: Interesting

      Apple, Google and Yahoo seem to be the only companies even trying to stand up to the government by pushing back.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 4:56pm

      Re: Interesting

      Off topic, but yeah I agree. Steve Jobs actually was sort of arrogant in my personal opinion, while I think Cook is a good mix of both Jobs and the Woz which made Apple. He's got the geeky and the PR man in the mix. That he brought his personal experiences and actually imho basically gave the finger to the president, shows he's at least looking out for public opinion and perhaps his users as well.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:32am

    So in other words..

    So in other words, wait 6 months and they'll be touting backdoors as a feature?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:51am

    Cameron will not be happy.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 11:56am

    This is great. I still think Steve Jobs would've been better at "standing up to the government" and such, but it's good to see there are at least a few companies around that aren't willing to put backdoors in their products so easily.

    That said, I wonder if the "cyber threat" info that Apple agreed to give to DHS includes zero-days...because in that case the NSA has just gained FREE (temporary) "backdoors" into all of Apple's products.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      David, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:07pm

      Re:

      I still think Steve Jobs would've been better at "standing up to the government" and such,

      If he could feel bothered by it. Which is a pretty big "if".

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hij (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:01pm

    diversity speaking

    When people ask why diversity is important the quotes from the speech given above are a strong example of how diversity matters. People who come from groups outside of the "mainstream" have a different perspective and a greater understanding of the potential impacts of what they are doing. It is much easier for someone like Cook to understand the potential for violating privacy then someone whose actions have little or no repercussion with respect to the majority view.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Felix Atagong (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:02pm

    What if the US government leaves no choice, and then puts a gag order?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Guardian, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:07pm

    do you trust him

    i do not trust any corporation....do YOU?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    afn29129 (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:07pm

    Trust nobody

    Test nobody. It may be nice to hear Apple stakeing a stand but
    at the same time if users really want/need privacy then encrypt beforehand..... double layers of encrytion, that is..


    Don't I love my PGP Whole Disc Encrytion. It's not possible to even boot this PC without a USB dongle AND passphrase.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Guardian, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:08pm

    gag orders

    A national security letter (18 U.S.C. § 2709), an administrative subpoena used by the FBI, has an attached gag order which restricts the recipient from ever saying anything about being served with one.[23] The government has issued hundreds of thousands of such NSLs accompanied with gag orders. The gag orders have been upheld in court

    and thats just the usa ....

    so he come sout against then they go order him to do so and slap a shut up or else order....

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gag_order

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:26pm

    Ios encryption? I wonder what he is talking about

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:40pm

    ENCASE (and other computer forensics software)

    Won't ENCASE beat the encryption anyways? So, what difference does it make?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 7:43am

      Re: ENCASE (and other computer forensics software)

      Won't ENCASE beat the encryption anyways?

      I don't think so. From what I briefly read, it can read everything on a drive but I didn't see anything about breaking encryption.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 18 Feb 2015 @ 8:46am

      Re: ENCASE (and other computer forensics software)

      "Won't ENCASE beat the encryption anyways?"

      No.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:45pm

    And why should I care?

    This just in, nobody that uses Apple products cares about Apple...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:57pm

    The blind leading the blind...

    Doesn't matter if you have an Android or an Iphone...they're all out to rob you blind. pfft!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 12:57pm

    Not a particular fan of apple, but at least this guy is "putting his money where his mouth is"..........which is more then i can say for others in similar positions.............the hesitation of others to make such statements makes me really think about their stances..............this is not a wait and see, situation then expect everything to go back to normal.........that just tells me you'd be willing to go against the public should the chips happen to fall that way............instead of having the instinctual and natural disgust to this over empowering "authority" that you make damn sure everyone knew thats how you thought, through fear that if people dont speak up, that we'd sleep walk ourselves into the most capable tyrrany in history

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    dave blevins (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 1:17pm

    Ben Franklin

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.

    Benjamin Franklin,


    US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 - 1790)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 1:32pm

    Jobs was just a marketing guru...why are anyone of you assuming that he's also a security genius?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 2:05pm

    I'm not so much worried about Apple inserting backdoors into iPads and iPhones. I'm more worried about the hardware manufacturers Apple sources their components from having backdoors built into them. For example, the baseband modem chip manufacturer using closed source software drivers.

    I don't trust any hardware components unless open source software drivers are controlling them. Anything less, is security through obscurity.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 2:14pm

    Backdoors are coming

    Whether tech companies are compelled or do so willingly, their centralization will be their downfall. The feds are singlehandedly killing the competitiveness of American businesses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Fixed., 17 Feb 2015 @ 3:05pm

    To "steal" your data

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    streetlight (profile), 17 Feb 2015 @ 3:54pm

    The louder one talks the less trustworty the message

    The more we hear from Apple about how secure one's privacy is with their devices and how much they want to continue to insist they will do nothing in the future to compromise privacy the more I wonder how many back doors they have in their equipment. Take a look at the recent planting of code in hard drive firmware as drives were allegedly intercepted during shipment as an example that Apple might not be able to do anything about the security of privacy. Apple buys hard drives by the millions and probably doesn't know if they have been intercepted during shipment or even after they've been installed in a computer.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 17 Feb 2015 @ 5:23pm

      Re: The louder one talks the less trustworty the message

      Man, try and purchase a hard drive that was manufactured by some company that couldn't have had it's firmware reverse engineered or possibly the source code given to the NSA. If you are talking about Kaspersky's discovery, it took bloodly 14 years to reverse engineer the code to even find out. I wouldn't even be surprised since foreign companies that were also linked, Samsung for example, to start lawsuits on behalf of the users to try and at least clear their hands of the matter. This is one of the things that going to start hopefully changing things, as other governments are going to realize that the US is actively attacking even mutual agreement companies with spyware. As the Pentagon stated in 2011, this is an act of war...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 2:25am

    that's some great apple PR there..

    I"m really sick of saying it; but no one seams to get it, or bother looking into it...

    Encryption is useless because the baseband co-processor has access to main system ram. The phone company is remotely in control of the baseband- you have no authority there.

    If the phone is powered off (it's probably not- you can't even remove iphone battery) AND the phone company hasn't already scraped your encryption keys from ram (that's probably automated...) then maybe it'd be of use.

    yes, there's some speculation in my theory- but if it wasn't intended to be used in this way- why was it designed in this (highly insecure) way. sometimes a duck is a duck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 18 Feb 2015 @ 2:21pm

      Re:

      "Encryption is useless because the baseband co-processor has access to main system ram. The phone company is remotely in control of the baseband- you have no authority there."

      Bravo! You Sir, get a cookie. You're absolutely correct.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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