[RWSB] 2016-08 - Ukraine Hack and Privacy
It has been just over two months, and a report was released last week that the Ukrainian power outage was indeed the result of hackers. This comes as no surprise to security experts, but the incident is the first time it has been acknowledged that hackers were able to successfully bring down a power plant.
In December 2015, hackers were able to gain access to a Ukrainian power plant and cut off power to 225,000 people. It is believed that malware named BlackEnergy and KillDisk were at least partly responsible for the outage. Security experts are concerned that this might be a trend in cyber threats. Infrastructure such as water and power plants are built on older technology that is more vulnerable to current threats.
A recent decision from a US court says Apple does not need to unlock an iPhone 5S running iOS 7. Investigators in a criminal case seized the smartphone and wanted Apple to unlock it. Apple has the ability to unlock iOS 7 devices unlike the San Bernardino case in which the company has no ability to unlock an iPhone 5c running iOS 9. Apple claims unlocking phones for law enforcement raises privacy concerns.
The current standoff between Apple and the federal government may will establish privacy as a sales point that can be used to market devices to end-users. For Apple to resist unlocking iPhones, the company puts itself in the forefront of privacy, which could help it sell more devices if the judges rule in its favor. If privacy is upheld, we will likely see government agencies examining alternative ways into encrypted hardware through backdoors in chips or attacks on the cryptographic protocols themselves. Whether or not such undertakings will be successful remains to be seen.
The Apple case set to be heard next month will be an unprecedented event that will shape the future of cryptography and privacy. If Apple is forced to provide backdoors specifically for the FBI, the company claims that it will need to build an onsite forensics lab specifically for the FBI and other law enforcement officials. It also claims it would need to create a â€œGovtOSâ€ to comply with the possible future ruling.
If the US government determines that Apple must provide backdoors, it will likely set a trend for other countries and their privacy laws.