Some Thoughts on Apple v FBI

I’ve held off writing about the case where a court has ordered Apple to develop software to break into an iPhone 5c used by a terrorist. You can read about this on thousands of websites, so I won’t go into detail here. But I do have a few thoughts I wanted to toss out for consideration.

  • Tech journalists should not write about legal issues without consulting with attorneys. I’ve seen lots of articles, and heard some podcasts, that address legal questions with little or no legal knowledge, and that offer information that is simply wrong, and proven so shortly after editors have clicked Publish. Get some lawyers to explain things to you, or don’t talk about the law.
  • Take a deep breath and think carefully each time you read a new article about this case. Information has been released that is biased and incorrect, only to be corrected the next day. It’s best to take a long view of this issue, not to believe anything you read today.
  • Do read what real computer security experts have to say about this. Especially regarding the consequences of this case for the future. (You might want to read what Christopher Soghoian has written…)
  • Remember, both Apple and the FBI are spinning this case. They both have agendas.
  • I wonder what will happen if Apple is held in contempt of court. Is Tim Cook willing to go to jail for this issue?

This looks like an issue that won’t be easily resolved. There will be lots of articles and opinions on this issue. I don’t know enough about the law to offer my own, though I strongly believe that what the FBI is asking would open the door to potential abuse.

One final point:

  • Does the US government really want their elected officials, employees, agents, and citizens to carry around communication devices that have known backdoors when they are in other countries? Because unless the CIA is building their own smartphones, this is what the world would be like if backdoors were required. Other governments would potentially be able to access information on devices owned by US citizens, as well as their own.

How to Manage Gmail and Google Security and Privacy Settings

Lots of people use Gmail for their email, either using Google’s website in a web browser, or through an email client. You may use a @gmail address, or you may have a domain hosted on Google Apps for Work. When you use Google for your email–as well as for search, maps, and more–you have a number of security and privacy options you can set.

Google has a good set of tools for checking and tweaking your security settings, for both Gmail and for the rest of its services. In this article, you will discover how to run a Google Security Checkup, a Privacy Checkup, and how to tweak Google’s settings, so your account is secure. And I’ll walk you through Google’s Gmail Security Checklist.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

Control What Information Apps Can Access on Your Children’s iPhone or iPad

I recently explained how to enable and set up Restrictions on an iOS device, to ensure that your children don’t have free reign on their iPhone or iPad. If you don’t turn on Restrictions, however, you might still want to help your children ensure that their privacy is respected. You can control what information and features certain apps can access on an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch. You might want to do it for your kids’ devices, and you also might want to do it for your own.

When you launch a new app that wants to access any personal information or hardware features (such as location services, the camera, and the microphone), you’ll see a dialog asking you to allow the app to access these. You can refuse or grant access, and you can always change these settings later. Here’s how to check and adjust these settings.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.

How to Protect Children’s Privacy on Social Media

If your kids use social media, as all kids do, you may be worried about protecting their privacy. Teenagers may be a bit unconcerned about such things, and not care who reads their Facebook posts, their Twitter feeds, or sees their photos on Instagram. As a parent, you know how important it is to keep your kids’ online life out of the public domain, as much as possible.

You can explain to your children why this is important, and help them choose the right settings to protect their privacy. They can always go back and change the settings, of course; you can’t lock their Facebook or SnapChat settings. But if you have a serious conversation about privacy, you can work together with your children to apply the appropriate settings.

Read the rest of the article on The Mac Security Blog.