DOJ goes for more aggressive tactic in San Bernardino case.
The Department of Justice is certainly not going to back down in the San Bernardino iPhone saga and there’s now evidence that the feds could even force Apple to provide the full source code of iOS should the company refuse to build a backdoor.
Specifically, if Apple does not want to create custom software that would help the FBI unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers and the company loses in court, the Department of Justice might request Cupertino to provide the source code of the operating system instead.
“No backdoor? Ok then, you must give us the private key”
The Guardian reports that the Department of Justice has already hinted at this possibility in a recent formal response to Apple, explaining that if the company refuses to build software that could provide it with access to the iPhone, there’s no other way around than to ask for the full source code of the OS.
“The FBI cannot itself modify the software on Farook’s iPhone without access to the source code and Apple’s private electronic signature,” the Department of Justice explains, hinting at what’s to come in case Cupertino refuses to go the backdoor way.
Previously, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained that he doesn’t want the same company engineers who worked on improving iPhone security in the last few years to go in reverse and now break into their own software, so the FBI says that handing over private key would allow its own security researchers to do the whole job.
“The government did not seek to compel Apple to turn those over because it believed such a request would be less palatable to Apple. If Apple would prefer that course, however, that may provide an alternative that requires less labour by Apple programmers,” the Department of Justice added.
Certainly, Apple will clearly reject such a possibility because providing the FBI with the iOS private key would create major risks for everyone. With such information, the FBI could even deliver custom software updates to iPhones in the United States without customers specifically knowing where it comes from, thus getting full control over any device at any moment.