Senior Apple Engineers Say Hackers Are Main iPhone Security Threat, Not Government

iPhone-PasscodeApple may be embroiled in an ongoing battle with the U.S. government over privacy rights and the boundaries of encryption, but in a meeting with reporters (via TechCrunch), Apple security engineers said the government is not the threat they aim to counter when implementing new security features for iOS devices.

Senior Apple engineers feel that government intrusion is not their primary threat model when designing iPhone security and said they instead prefer to focus on fending off hackers.

The engineers also characterized Apple's pushback against the FBI as motivated not by a desire to impede a terrorism investigation, but rather to defend its ability to protect users against non-governmental threats.

Hackers, not the government, are what Apple aims to counter by beefing up security, and Apple engineers don't want to be "viewed as government adversaries." With every iOS update, hackers, some malicious and some not, make an effort to discover previously unknown security flaws able to be exploited to gain access to iOS devices. Apple has to continually work to eliminate vulnerabilities and improve security in never-ending race.

In the call, TechCrunch says Apple engineers explained features in its Security White Paper [PDF] to reporters in an effort to emphasize the work that goes into protecting data, highlighting features like the Secure Enclave, Touch ID, two-factor authentication, and end-to-end encryption in iMessage.

Built into devices utilizing an A7 or later, the Secure Enclave, which maintains encryption keys directly on the chip, is a separate chip with its own secure boot and personalized software that's updated separately from the application processor. With iOS 8, Apple improved encryption for devices, making it impossible for the company to access data on a locked iPhone.

According to Apple engineers, who reportedly "disputed the theory" the iPhone's security allows criminals to evade law enforcement, implementing strong security measures is necessary to protect personal privacy for all people. In past arguments, Apple executives have also pointed out that even if the iPhone did have weaker encryption, criminals would be savvy enough to seek out other encryption methods like messaging apps with end-to-end encryption while the average consumer would be left more vulnerable.

Amid its dispute with the FBI, reports suggested Apple had already begun work on implementing stronger security measures to protect iOS devices, and in today's call with reporters, Apple said it has revamped its internal security teams.

Update: The Verge has shared additional details on the press briefing.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Popular Stories

iOS 18 Siri Integrated Feature

Report: These 10 New AI Features Are Coming in iOS 18

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:57 pm PDT by
iOS 18 and macOS 15 will offer an array of new AI features such as auto-generated emojis, suggested replies to emails and messages, and more, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman reports. A significant portion of Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) is expected to focus on AI features. Writing his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman explained that Apple's AI strategy emphasizes providing...
airpods pro 2 pink

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Firmware

Tuesday May 28, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released new firmware update for both the Lightning and USB-C versions of the AirPods Pro 2. The new firmware is version 6F7, up from the 6B34 firmware released in November. Apple does not provide details on what features might be included in the refreshed firmware beyond "bug fixes and other improvements," so it is unclear what's new in the update. Apple does not give...
new best buy blue

Best Buy's Memorial Day Sale Has Record Low Prices on iPads, MacBooks, and Much More

Friday May 24, 2024 7:12 am PDT by
Best Buy today kicked off its Memorial Day weekend sale, and it has some of the best prices we've tracked in weeks on iPads and MacBooks. Specifically, you'll find record low prices on the 5th generation iPad Air, iPad mini 6, M2 MacBook Air, and M3 MacBook Pro. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Best Buy. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment,...
iOS 18 WWDC 24 Feature 2

Gurman: iOS 18 Will Allow Users to Recolor App Icons and Place Them Anywhere

Sunday May 26, 2024 12:22 pm PDT by
Apple's iOS 18 update will introduce new features for further customizing the iPhone's home screen, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman claimed that Apple will allow users to change the color of app icons in iOS 18. For example, "you can make all your social icons blue or finance-related ones green." This kind of home screen...
iPad Pro Landscape Apple Logo Feature

Apple Says Future iPads Could Feature Landscape Apple Logo

Monday May 27, 2024 6:31 am PDT by
French website Numerama interviewed three senior Apple employees about the new iPad Pro models that launched earlier this month. While the discussion did not reveal many new details, it did mention one potential change for future iPads. While the Apple logo on the back of iPads is positioned so that it appears upright in vertical orientation, the devices are often used in landscape...

Top Rated Comments

Benjamin Frost Avatar
106 months ago
Thank you for protecting us from hackers, criminals, the FBI and the US Government, Apple.

I'm not sure that I'm not being tautologous.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
mcarling Avatar
106 months ago
Only governments murder people by the millions. Don't forget that the US government put US citizens of Japanese decent into concentration camps during WWII, more recently murdered innocent children in Waco, and the current administration has illegally spied on virtually every US citizen. In my opinion, the US government poses a much bigger danger than hackers, criminals, or even terrorists to ordinary Americans.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
nicovh Avatar
106 months ago
Nyeeesss


I AM THE FEAR

Attachment Image
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MaulRx Avatar
106 months ago
In other news, water is wet...
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MaulRx Avatar
106 months ago
Only governments murder people by the millions. Don't forget that the US government put US citizens of Japanese decent into concentration camps during WWII, more recently murdered innocent children in Waco, and the current administration has illegally spied on virtually every US citizen. In my opinion, the US government poses a much bigger danger than hackers, criminals, or even terrorists to ordinary Americans.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
morcutt11 Avatar
106 months ago
Only governments murder people by the millions. Don't forget that the US government put US citizens of Japanese decent into concentration camps during WWII, more recently murdered innocent children in Waco, and the current administration has illegally spied on virtually every US citizen. In my opinion, the US government poses a much bigger danger than hackers, criminals, or even terrorists to ordinary Americans.
Well, sure, for most things I'd give you that. Our politicians stopped caring for us a long time ago. With that said, I think that Apple's position on this is that hackers are more apt to conduct a mass attack with nefarious intentions of ransoming, disseminating, or otherwise using people's data (payment, health, contact records, etc.). Whereas the government is more interested in individuals that are a threat to the government or its operations (including protecting the public).
[doublepost=1460767781][/doublepost]
...Secondly the Chinese aren't subject to the same laws which allows them to easier exploit the OS with out worry of being fined or sent to jail.
Fined? Jail? Please! They'd be given jobs working for the State.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)