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Use the dead to open an iPhone? Apple vs. FBI is getting weird

The battle between Apple and the FBI is heating up after yesterday’s “no” from CEO Tim Cook to a court order to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino terrorists. Now, no less than Edward Snowden has weighed in on Twitter, calling the situation the “most important tech case in a decade.” He also called out Google’s initial silence on the matter, and said the case was being closely watched by Chinese authorities.

Forbes says that the FBI could resort to using the fingerprint from the phone owner’s cadaver, or use a fingerprint copying hack that’s been posted online and… seems to work. But if the phone has been locked for more that 48 hours, the FBI will still need to know that passcode, which Apple says could take over 4 years to guess if it’s complex enough. And those are the likely reasons the FBI have now come to Apple demanding they hack the phone. Stay tuned.

Follow-up to a story from yesterday: that Hollywood hospital that had been reduced to keeping records like it was 1952 has paid a ransom to the hackers that locked up its servers. A press release from Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center CEO Alan Stefanek said they paid 40 BitCoins – or about $17,000 – to get their computers back. He also said early reports the ransom was 9,000 bitcoins, or $3.4 million dollars, was false.

Stefanek said that paying the ransom was the “quickest and most efficient way” to get operations back online, which we think sets a bad precedent, but we also understand the urgency involved. Hackers have held other entities for ransom, including some small police departments, who typically paid less than one thousand dollars to get their data back. Still, this is a clear signal that data security should be a top priority.

Google has announced that their Translate app can translate over 100 languages and now covers 99 percent of the Earth’s population. The Translate project began about 10 years ago. On the project’s blog, Sveta Kelman says the team is using a facet of artificial intelligence research called “machine learning” to more quickly fill out their language portfolio.

New languages include familiar ones like Pashto and Hawaiian, and some not-so-familiar dialects like Luxembourgish and Xhosa, a South African language that uses different clicking sounds for the letters X, Q and C.