Monday, 29 February 2016

Maricopa County Attorney bans iPhones

An odd article:

They say that "Apple's refusal to bend to federal prosecutors a “corporate PR stunt.”"

I have to say that the move by that body seems to me to be an ill conceived PR stunt of some sort and misses the point massively.

However, I got a rather odd (what I can only describe as) "troll" on my comments on Facebook over this, saying: :"since it's only the newer versions that Apple cannot/will not provide access to at this time, the County Attorney does not want government phones that have this feature - thus sticking with older models and refusing upgrades that might incorporate that feature since they own the units and have every right to access them at will."

This struck me as rather odd.
  1. If there are work related files on a staff iPhone, and only on a staff iPhone such that recovery of such files would be needed later then there is a serious problem. Storing data sole on an iPhone is not a safe place - they can easily break. Use apps that securely ensure data that needs to be stored is stored centrally (in a "cloud" even) and not solely on a phone, and then there is no problem with no being able to get data on the phone.
  2. If there is any personal information stored on the phone, it needs to be secure. Phones can get lost, so making sure a phone does not have encryption means that any personal information could be lost and leaked just by leaving a phone on a bus. You actually need high security if storing any customer/public personal data on a phone or you are perhaps negligent.
  3. If you have worries about staff storing data you cannot access on the phone, you are stuffed, as encryption exists and data can be encrypted and stored on the phone in a way neither you, nor apple, nor the FBI can access.
This is a boycott, pure and simple, and it is stupid and ill thought out.

What is especially ill conceived is the idea that upgrades are a bad thing. This could be one of the biggest fall outs to the whole fiasco that people feel unsure of deploying s/w updates on products for fear of secret back-doors being added, and hence leaving themselves more vulnerable to attack from criminals.


  1. The other thing is that mobile device management systems exist for iOS that give the legitimate owner a "backdoor" where they can use the MDM system to bypass a user's personal lock code.

  2. Work requires us to use iOS 8 or later if we hold any company data on our personal devices (there are rules about what you can and can't hold). If the FBI win their case and extract data despite the encryption, work will probably ban holding company data on personal iOS devices. They rely on the crypto to keep company data safe. And you're not allowed to backup to the cloud.