Apple’s fight with the FBI could trigger a password arms race
Apple’s dispute with the FBI over providing access to a mass shooter’s smartphone could lead device makers to require stronger passwords in future.
Much of the debate around the issue has suggested that the FBI is asking Apple to break its encryption in order to gain access to the contents of a smartphone used by one of the perpetrators of the December shootings in San Bernardino.
But the case is as much about passwords as it is about encryption. The FBI wants Apple to override a mechanism on the iPhone that could erase the data on the device after 10 failed password attempts. Using a computer program, investigators can try out thousands of passwords until they hit on the one that works, in what’s known as a brute force attack.