Apple Plans To Improve iCloud Encryption Amid Legal Tussle With FBI
The legal battle between Apple and the FBI continues to escalate, with the United States Department of Justice recently threatening to force the smartphone maker to hand over the entire source code for its iOS mobile operating system and electronic signature.
The FBI is looking for Apple to create a backdoor for the iOS that would allow it to access the data stored in the iPhone of one of the shooters in the San Bernardino incident. If the government receives the source code and electronic signature, then it can instead simply create its own iOS-based operating system to finally unlock the shooter's iPhone.
Amid all the news regarding the case, Apple is said to be developing a way to even further improve its encryption procedures so that user information stored in the iCloud could not be decoded by the company, according to sources by The Wall Street Journal.
However, Apple executives are worried that adding more security to the iCloud could compromise customer convenience. The simple and intuitive user experience for the iCloud and the iOS is something that Apple takes pride in, so adding more layers of protection which would complicate the system is seen as a worrisome price to pay by executives.
The issue, therefore, is striking the perfect balance between security and ease-of-use, as Apple is looking to get rid of its ability to peek into the iCloud accounts of users.
In the current form of encryption for the iCloud, some information sent to the cloud service can be potentially accessed by Apple through the encryption keys that it holds. This allows for the possibility of the system being compromised or Apple being compelled to access the information on behalf of the government, which is what is happening with the ongoing FBI case. If Apple decided to remove this ability and places the encryption keys fully in the hands of users, then it could no longer be requested to access the data to begin with.
On the other hand, users that forget their password will lose all the data that they had stored in the iCloud, as Apple will not be able to help them in recovering their password or their stored data.
There is no timeline on when the planned iCloud improvements will be implemented, if any such upgrades will be made at all.