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FBI vs. Apple and the Risk to Your Health Data

Key Under DoormatBy now anyone with a pulse has heard about Apple’s showdown with the FBI over resisting cracking open a terrorist’s phone from San Bernandino. From a public perception perspective the FBI picked the perfect case to force Apple to comply – a conflict over security that has been brewing for a while. However, it’s not going the FBI’s way. A host of tech partners is backing Apple’s stance.

The consensus is that backdoors for government access is a terrible idea that just weaken the system. And of course we learned from Edward Snowden that we’ve all been snooped on for years through similar mechanisms. Keys under doormats are a bad idea. (MIT: Keys Under Doormats – Mandating insecurity by requiring government access to all data and communications)

Of course, huge data hacks have been in the news for the past several years. How fast have we forgotten about Target, JPMorgan, Ashley Madison, and Sony Pictures where massive data breaches left millions of Americans’ personal information exposed? Many of these people are just now starting to find out the extent of the damage done.

But the Government must be secure, right? They have loads of experts and vast funding. Well, after the recent hack of over 700,000 tax records they don’t seem to be able to do such a great job. So, they don’t seem like they might be able to keep that backdoor key away from hackers or totalitarian regimes.

The FBI promise this tool is just for for a one-time use on this one phone also rings hollow. The press reports many other phones where Government access is requested. Recently there was a report where the Government obtained a Tor-hacking technique through subpoena from Carnegie Mellon. They immediately exploited it to shut down a bunch of nasty sites, which is hard to argue with. However, the parallel with the Apple case is that once they have a cracking tool, they will use it widely.

One of the big risks is our health records. More and more of our data is on our phones, connected devices, and electronic health records. This past year saw over one million patient health files breached through nearly 258 large-scale healthcare data breaches. This is highly sensitive and personal information and I personally want the Government out of my business. Smartphones are increasingly the remote control for much of this data.

The Internet of Things increases security risks. How about a hacker changing the dosage on your insulin pump? Or getting into your car and shutting it down in the middle of the highway. Let’s hope this security battle is resolved in a public forum rather than the FBI relying on an obscure 1789 law, the All Writs Act.

P.S. Just for fun, you can read I dared two expert hackers to destroy my life. Here’s what happened.

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