By now, you’ve probably heard of the San Bernardino shooting. If you haven’t, then let me refresh your memory. On December 2, 2015, 14 people were killed and 22 were seriously injured in an apparent terrorist attack at the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino, California.
It’s one of the more prominent acts of terrorism that have hit the U.S. because of one important evidence: the Apple iPhone 5c used by one of the shooters that was found on the scene. It may or may not contain information, but the significance of that piece of technology is not about what it holds but what it represents.
Setting a bad precedent
A few weeks ago, the Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that they couldn’t unlock the iPhone 5c through sheer brute force, i.e., constantly guessing the 4-digit passcode until they get it right. The agency said they couldn’t risk wiping the data with more tries, a security feature built into the device by Apple.
And because the data on the 5c wasn’t synced with iCloud, the FBI had to find alternative methods of accessing it. Their idea — a radical one — was to ask Apple to create a special tool that:
- allows the FBI to guess as many passwords as they like without the data on the phone being wiped; and
- lets the iPhone connect to an external device, such as a desktop or laptop, where the FBI can run a script that guesses passwords quickly.
With the advancement of technology, it was only a matter of time before information security became a national security issue. The problem here is that Apple no longer has the ability to access encrypted data on iDevices running iOS 8 or higher.
Even if they could, Apple firmly believes they shouldn’t, as explicitly stated on their website via an open letter penned by CEO Tim Cook:
In today’s digital world, the ‘key’ to an encrypted system is a piece of information that unlocks the data, and it is only as secure as the protections around it. Once the information is known, or a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.
The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone. But that’s simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable.
The government is asking Apple to hack our own users and undermine decades of security advancements that protect our customers — including tens of millions of American citizens — from sophisticated hackers and cybercriminals. The same engineers who built strong encryption into the iPhone to protect our users would, ironically, be ordered to weaken those protections and make our users less safe.
The FBI invoked the All Writs Act of 1789 — a century-old U.S. federal statute that has been used to practically force technology companies to cooperate with the government — to get a court order.
Personal data in the wrong hands
Our phones hold an unbelievable amount of information. They have become windows to our lives. Our location, our messages, our pictures, bank records, statements, emails, and everything else in between? Chances are, all of them can be found on our phones.
In the wrong hands, that data could destroy our lives. Which is why the biggest smartphone OS developers — namely Google, Apple, and Microsoft — have made data security a big, if not the biggest, part of their respective feature lists.
With the FBI asking Apple to create a special system to bypass the tech company’s security setup, that system will be out there. That’s partly why Apple is afraid; even if they could create one, it would undermine everything they worked hard for. Once the system is created, nothing is stopping the FBI — or anybody who gets their hands on the software — to use it for personal or criminal reasons.
The FBI suggested solutions to the problem:
- there will be a custom ID, i.e., each custom OS can only be installed on a specific phone;
- operation of the software will be done only at Apple’s HQ in Cupertino, California; and
- any software update needs Apple’s approval to install.
But most security experts agree this isn’t just going to be about one phone. From the Verge:
That’s a nervous-making thought for security professionals, since no single system is ever thought to be entirely impenetrable. New vulnerabilities pop up in software all the time, and for the iPhone, they can sell for as much as $1 million. iPhone security expert Jonathan Zdziarski says there’s a real concern that an undisclosed vulnerability or existing exploit could be used in a way that Apple and the FBI can’t predict. Even if the signature system isn’t broken outright, the same tricks used by the FBI’s tool could be repurposed to give malware a stronger foothold on a targeted iPhone. ‘It’s not about just stealing one tool,’ says Zdziarski. ‘There’s a lot going on in software like this, and having a direct tap into how Apple can disable functions moves [attackers] along at light speed.’
But more than the system going into the wrong hands, it’s about that system ever existing in the first place. Because once the FBI wins the legal battle, it will set a terrible precedent for all tech companies. It tells them that the government, in their infinite benevolence, will be able to ask for the court order again and again. Once that’s possible, no matter what the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, or the National Security Agency says, they’ll have the power to lord over everyone’s privacy just because they’re the government.
And remember Edward Snowden, the former CIA contractor who leaked evidence of the U.S. government practically spying on everybody? Yeah.
That’s why you should care. If the court order holds and Apple can’t fight it back legally, then say goodbye to actual privacy, at least whatever is left of it anyway.
Whether you’re here in the Philippines or not, your privacy will be compromised. Whether it’s the government or some crooks who are spying on you, it won’t matter. Unless you stop using smartphones or any other devices that connect to the Internet, your privacy and your personal life will not be your own.
So pray that Apple wins this injunction and hope that you still hold control over your life after all of this is said and done. Because if they don’t, hackers will be the least of your worries.
[irp posts=”4932″ name=”Unhappy customer walks into Apple Store, destroys Apple products”]
iPhone 15 + 15 Pro Series MEGA UNBOXING!
iPhone 15 domination comin’ thru
Most of you think there’s nothing extraordinary about unboxing videos anymore.
While that relies on one’s interest, there’s still that amount of satisfaction when unpacking Apple products.
The newest iPhone 15 lineup aren’t exemptions to that.
We might get the same ol’ box content in an overall minimalistic packaging design.
Still, there’s the sound of the screen-protecting sticker coming off from the phone.
Do I even need to iterate one’s design language appreciation when getting and flipping the device?
Here’s our MEGA unboxing of the iPhone 15, 15 Plus, 15 Pro, and 15 Pro Max in various colors — that might be your next GadgetMatch!
Apple iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro Series Hands-on
Which iPhone 15 is your GadgetMatch?
It’s the time of the year again!
Wonderlust — it’s the theme for this year’s annual Apple Event held at the ever-popular Apple Park in Cupertino, California.
Excited to see what’s new? How about the latest colorways?
Are you even convincing yourself to upgrade?
More of your questions might just be answered by heading over to our iPhone 15 and 15 Pro Series Hands-on video.
I need a Huawei Mate X3, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 fusion
I am now a foldable enthusiast
I’m suffering from foldable withdrawal. For the better part of the past month or so, I’ve had both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 and the Huawei Mate X3. As of writing, it’s been a little over a week since I let go of both book-style foldable smartphones. I badly miss using a foldable.
It took five generations of the Galaxy Z Fold and the rest of the pack to come up with a slimmer foldable design for me to realize that I might be the target market of this device after all.
It wasn’t until I really had to start going out and attending physical events that I felt the need for this specific type of gadget. Why? Well, over the years, I’ve gotten used to bringing a laptop wherever I go. But the events I’ve gone to of late, I realized I didn’t really need to bring one.
In order to lighten the load I carry when I step out for an event or two in a day, I figured I’d switch over to an 11-inch tablet instead. It’s lighter while still giving me access to a full-sized keyboard making tasks like copy editing and long email replies easier. I did that for a while. But then, the review units for the foldables arrived.
Living the foldable life
With the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5 in hand, I realized I could make my events loadout even lighter. In a pocket I could carry a device that can handle all the tasks I did as an editor. I can preview videos on it and still spot changes because of the larger screen. I can comfortably sit down somewhere to copy edit an article. I can step aside for a little bit to quickly respond to emails or chats. All that and more. It truly is the productivity gadget it’s marketed to be.
But I had one gripe about the Galaxy Z Fold5. The only time I could enjoyably use it folded is when I’m trying to take clips for a Reel or just generally taking videos and photos. I’m not saying the outer screen isn’t usable. It is. However, it just doesn’t feel right. And for all the strides it has made in software, the Galaxy Z Fold5’s hardware design feels dated.
Enter the Huawei Mate X3. As cliche as it sounds, this thing felt like an engineering marvel the first time I held it. The design fulfilled the promise of having the best of both worlds: a regular smartphone and a mini tablet. It would have been perfect, but it’s only truly available in China. And Google Mobile Services or GMS still isn’t present on Huawei smartphones.
Some snaps comparisons
While we’re at it. Here’s what photos look like on both devices. To make things easy, everything on the left was taken with the Galaxy Z Fold5 and everything on the right was taken with the Mate X3.
The difference in the color science is very evident. In night time and lowlight scenarios, the Galaxy Z Fold5 works overtime in processing the images. With people present, the results look nice. But with general scenes, it tends to create a halo effect on some lights and appears to bright.
Meanwhile, the Mate X3 was outstanding in most scenes but struggled somewhat when people were present in the shots. And the selfie had some pretty obvious smoothing and beautification applied.
Overall, these are still pretty darn good shots for foldables. All were taken using the main camera of each smartphone. Foldables still also need time to develop for other lenses like utlra wide and telephoto/zoom.
Frustration sets in
The Huawei Mate X3 is the lightest, thinnest book-style foldable I’ve personally held so far. It would have been my dream foldable had it been running a software that worked like on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold5.
Yes, I am aware of the existence of the HONOR Magic V2 and the Xiaomi Mix Fold 3. But the former’s actual global unit hasn’t been released yet and the latter, like Huawei, is only made for China. For now, at least.
Hardware-wise, all three are definitely ahead of Samsung. When folded, the foldable does feel like a regular slab of a smartphone. But unfold it and you get the benefits of a mini tablet. But the software on these devices just hasn’t caught up to Samsung just yet.
On the Galaxy Z Fold5, when folded, my other devices detect it as a smartphone. Unfolded, it registers as a tablet. And many of the apps I use like GMail, Spotify, YouTube, and more automatically and seamlessly switch from smartphone to tablet user interfaces when I fold and unfold the device.
This is what’s really been grinding my gears. As of writing, I have yet to use a book-style foldable that’s an absolute slam dunk. The form-factor, after all, is just around five years old so there’s still plenty of room for growth.
Staying patient and holding out hope
The smartphones we use today weren’t always as good as they are now. It also took years before the updates, especially on flagship smartphones, to merely become iterative additions. They have evolved so much that they’re now borderline boring especially if you’re just a casual follower of tech trends. That’s what makes the foldable segment so exciting.
Just seeing the hardware and software gap means there’s plenty of tweaking left for these manufacturers to do. And Samsung, while still firmly leading the market should feel the pressure from the likes of HONOR, Huawei, and Xiaomi when it comes to hardware design. Software-wise, it appears no one else comes close. Not even Pixel Fold. Not yet, at least. Then there’s also OPPO’s Find N series that has a stouter look which also has its fans, including yours truly.
At the end of 2022, we predicted 2023 to be the year of foldables. It hasn’t quite blown up the way we thought it would. But there’s race brewing in this segment and everyone’s gearing up to overtake Samsung.
My ideal foldable doesn’t exist yet. It may not exist even in 2024. But I’m staying patient and holding out hope that it’s coming sooner rather than later.
Redmi 12 review: Just the basics
Decent-performing, nothing exceptional
Apple iPhone 15 Pro + 15 Pro Max Review: Huge Leap Forward
There's more than just the Titanium Design
OPPO A98 5G review: A+ for all-around experience
A strong contender in its category
Dyson V12s Detect Slim Submarine is a versatile vacuum
Microsoft’s Surface Laptop Studio 2 is good enough for gaming
Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes now for pre-order
Xiaomi introduces Redmi 12 to the Philippines
TEKKEN 8 Closed Beta Test is coming this October
realme 11 Pro+ 5G review: Flagship-like?
ASUS Vivobook S 15 OLED: BAPE® Edition Unboxing
Samsung Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra Review
MyCareer, The City all about being The GOAT in NBA 2K24
Capturing life lately with the Reno10 5G
Features2 weeks ago
GadgetSnaps: OPPO Reno10 Pro 5G in Taiwan
Reviews1 week ago
OPPO A98 5G review: A+ for all-around experience
News1 week ago
vivo V27 5G, Y36 5G now on Smart Signature Plans
Gaming2 weeks ago
We played Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart PC on 3 devices
Gaming2 weeks ago
Indie hit Only Up! has been delisted from Steam
News2 weeks ago
The Mate 60 Pro+ is HUAWEI’s best flagship yet
Accessories1 week ago
Apple is already selling expensive USB-C cables, adapters
Gaming4 days ago
What to expect at Tokyo Game Show 2023