The US government’s declaration that it has “successfully accessed the data stored on [San Bernardino gunman] Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires” assistance from Apple, ends a six week-long legal clash between the tech firm and the FBI.
But it leaves the issue at the heart of the dispute unresolved: could the FBI have forced Apple to help it unlock the device?
It is unlikely that this will be the last time a law enforcement agency tries to compel a tech company to help bypass security measures.
What are the implications for other cases?
It had been reported that there were about a dozen other cases in which the US Justice Department was pursuing court orders to force Apple to help its investigators.
The highest profile of these was in Brooklyn, New York, where the FBI wanted access to an iPhone belonging to a defendant who had already pleaded guilty to drug dealing.
In that case, a federal judge had rejected the DoJ’s effort to invoke the All Writs Act – a three-centuries-old statute that allows court orders to be issued in circumstances where other laws don’t apply.
The DoJ had launched an appeal, but it is not yet clear if it will continue or drop it. Its decision may be based on whether the technique used to extract data from Farook’s handset can be used in other cases.
The New York case involved an iPhone 5S running the iOS 7 operating system, while the San Bernardino, California case was about an iPhone 5C running the more modern iOS 9. What works against one device might not work against the other.
But assuming the US government will at some point try again to use the All Writs Act to force Apple or some other tech company to circumvent its data protection measures, it may take a Supreme Court ruling to determine whether this is truly within the authorities’ power.
Is there any way to find out how Farook’s iPhone was cracked?
At this point, there is nothing to compel the FBI to reveal how it was done, although Apple is likely to be pressing hard to find out.
The tech firm’s lawyers have already said they would want details of the technique to be made public if evidence from the cracked iPhone is later used at trial.
But it could remain secret. There is scope within US law for the authorities to withhold the source of information if it was supplied to them on a confidential basis, and to protect sensitive intelligence-gathering methodologies.
Should I assume the US authorities can now easily work out any iPhone’s passcode?
The court order originally obtained by the FBI had instructed Apple to come up with a special version of its operating system that would have prevented Farook’s iPhone from deleting its data or imposing long lockout periods if too many incorrect passcode guesses were made.
However, the latest court filings do not say that someone else has now done this, but merely that some data stored on the device has been obtained.
Researchers at the cybersecurity firm IOActive had proposed that one way of getting data off an iPhone would be to “de-cap” its memory chips.
The process they described involved using acid and lasers to expose and copy ID information about the device so that efforts to crack its passcode could be simulated on another computer without risk of triggering the original iPhone’s self-destruct tool.
If indeed this is what happened, it is not easy and there’s a high risk of causing so much damage to the phone that the desired data becomes irretrievable.
By contrast, Cellebrite – a data forensics firm that has reportedly helped the FBI with the case – has previously discussed “bypassing” passcode locks rather than trying to deduce the number.
But it is possible that doing this would yield access to only a limited amount of a handset’s data.
One other point is that Apple recently updated its iOS software.
Each upgrade adds security fixes. So, if the FBI has indeed been alerted to a flaw in Farook’s phone’s security settings, that bug may no longer exist in devices that have installed iOS 9.3.
Is there any way to ensure no-one else can read the information held on my handset?
Short of destroying the device, perhaps no.
But you can use encryption-enabled apps to digitally scramble data.
The chat tool Wickr Messenger, for instance, lets you set it so that you have to enter a password each time you log back into the app.
Likewise, PQChat requires typing in a five-digit passcode of its own to get access.
So, even if a cracked iPhone did give up the contents of its text messages, emails and WhatsApp chats, the contents of the apps mentioned above should remain safe.
All this presumes, however, that the authorities do not manage to install spyware on your device. If that happens, all bets are off.
What is the situation in the UK?
As part of her efforts to pass the Investigatory Powers Bill, the home secretary Theresa May has said that tech firms wouldn’t have hand over encryption keys or build backdoors into their platforms.
But the law still makes mention of “equipment interference warrants”.
Campaigners at the Electronic Frontier Foundation have warned that these could be used to force Apple and others to insert new code into a device in order to help the authorities extract data, in a similar manner to the FBI’s earlier order.
The EFF adds that “matching gag orders” would prevent the firms from informing their customers or even their own lawyers about the act.
Equipment interference warrants already exist under the UK’s current law.
And for now, the focus of Apple and other tech firms is getting the Investigatory Powers Bill amended to say that in the future the warrants could only be amended with the permission of a judge.
But were there to be a case where the UK police attempted to coerce Apple to override its protective measures, it might still resist – even if the fact never became public.
5000 Startups From Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa Completed Google Training Programme
No less than 5000 startups from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have completed the Google Hustle Academy training programme.
No less than 5000 startups from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa have completed the Google Hustle Academy training programme. The programme was designed to help business owners learn soft skills that complement their hard talents.
Investors King learnt that Google received more than 10,000 applications for this year’s edition.
It could be recalled that earlier this year, Google announced a plan to train 5,000 African Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) with participants coming from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Google noted that participants will go through a training academy where they will undergo five days of hands-on training and receive 3,000 hours of training on fundamental aspects of business to help them navigate the challenges faced by SMEs in Africa.
According to the press statement released by Google Head of Brand & Reputation, Sub Sahara Africa, Mojolaoluwa Aderemi-Makinde after the completion of the training, participants attended a five-day virtual boot camp where they learned how to define their business strategy, increase sales, and how to pitch for investor funding.
While dividing them into 23 cohorts, they were also trained in digital marketing and effective financial planning.
This is in addition to the one-on-one mentoring sessions received by each participant. The mentoring session was handled by a network of trained mentors and coaches.
Meanwhile, Aderemi-Makinde further revealed that Google has launched a new speaker series in which successful African entrepreneurs share lessons and advice.
He added that Google will continue to do more to help African entrepreneurs and small businesses thrive.
“(The) speaker series will allow Small and Medium Businesses to get insight from business owners from an array of sectors, focusing on the issues, themes and subjects they face on a regular basis,” he said.
He stated that Small and medium-sized businesses are the backbone of the global economy while noting that in Africa, they account for an estimated 80 per cent of jobs.
Nigerian Based Food Tech Startup, Orda Raises $3.4 Million in Seed Funding
Orda Africa has now raised a combined $4.5 million raised by the African-centric food tech company.
Nigerian-based food tech startup, Orda announced it has raised a sum of $3.4 million in seed funding after it raised $1.1 million in pre-seed funding at the beginning of this year. This makes it a total of $4.5 million raised by the African-centric food tech company.
Investors King understands that Orda is an African restaurant cloud operating system that helps restaurants to move from pen and paper to a fully automated digital platform.
According to the startup, it aims to help more African restaurants maximize their business operations and expand distribution.
The tech company added that it plans to improve on some new features which include loan, credit, and payment options which will eventually enable its clients to maximize the potential of their business.
Investors King learnt that this new round of funding was co-led by Quona Capital and FinTech Collective. Other institutional investors which participated in the seed funding include Far Out Ventures, Lofty Inc Capital, Enza Capital, and Outside VC.
In the last one year, Orda has been able to increase its customer base to more than 600 restaurants across Nigeria and Kenya while its weekly processing orders has increased by more than 500 percent.
Speaking about the growth and focus of the company, Orda’s CEO and co-founder, Guy Futi said “From day one, Orda has been focused on building solutions for small and medium-sized restaurants”.
“These businesses operate with slim profit margins and the power of Orda’s software and financial solutions can catapult their business. Our goal is to provide end-to-end solutions that help them optimize their operations so they become more prosperous”.
Founded in 2020 by Guy Futi, Fikayo Akinwale, Mark Edomwande, Kunle Ogungbamila, and Namir El-Khouri, Orda has the vision to help small-sized African restaurants optimize their business and achieve sustainable growth.
Meanwhile, the company has attributed its growth over the last 12 months to the excellent team it has put together, a trend it hopes to continue in the coming months.
Twitter CEO, Elon Musk Alleged Apple Plans to Remove Twitter From iOS Store
Musk claimed that Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter
Twitter’s new owner and CEO, Elon Musk, has alleged that Apple Inc. is planning to remove the Twitter app from the iOS App Store, the billionaire revealed this in a series of tweets yesterday.
“Apple has also threatened to withhold Twitter from its App Store, but won’t tell us why,” Musk tweeted on Monday.
Aside from the threat to remove Twitter from its App Store, Musk also disclosed that Apple has mostly’ stopped advertising on Twitter.
In the following tweet, Musk claimed that Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. “Do they hate free speech in America,” he asked.
The brands have alleged that Twitter under the leadership of Elon Musk will open the social media platform to hate speech.
If Apple eventually removes Twitter from the iOS store, it would be detrimental to Twitter’s business, which is already struggling with a loss of advertisers following Musk’s takeover.
Millions of users get the Twitter application from the Apple iOS store. Therefore new users will not be able to download the Application on the iOS store while existing users will be deprived of updating the app.
Washington Post reported that Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter in the first quarter of 2022, spending $48 million on ads on the social platform.
The newspaper added that Apple’s spending accounted for more than 4 percent of Twitter’s revenue in that quarter.
Although Apple CEO, Tim Cook nor any of the company’s representatives responded to Musk’s post.
The tweet however caught the attention of United States lawmakers who have proposed bipartisan legislation that aims to dismantle the power that Apple and Google wield through their app stores.
“This is why we need to end the App Store duopoly before the end of this year,” one of the lawmakers, Rep. Ken Buck tweeted.
“No one should have this kind of market power,” he added.
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