Amid claims that Apple is working on an unhackable device that will essentially allow the company to lock up its software and throw away the key, Cupertino is now bringing new personnel on board with the skills and experience to help it achieve this end. The company has just employed Swiss developer Frederic Jacobs, former lead developer for secure messaging service Signal.
Signal, an iOS app favoured by former NSA contractor-turned-whistleblower Edward Snowden, allows users to send encrypted communications and is widely considered as one of the most secure voice and messaging apps around. Jacobs spent more than two years at Open Whisper Systems, the company behind the app, where he worked on "end-to-end encryption for both private messages and phone calls" across all layers of the programme. Jacobs left the company earlier this year.
On 25 February Jacobs announced via Twitter: "I'm delighted to announce that I accepted an offer to be working with the CoreOS security team at Apple this summer," before going on to claim it was an "internship position". Apple has yet to comment on Jacobs's hiring.
Apple continues to wave the flag of defiance against US authorities in the case of the San Bernardino iPhone, rejecting the FBI's requests to decrypt the device belonging to killer Syed Farook on the grounds that it would open the door to future oversteps of authorities' powers and weaken the bedrock of users' rights to privacy. While the FBI has dismissed claims that it is trying to obtain a master key to iOS, it has more recently been revealed that it's not just Farook's device that US authorities are trying to gain access to.
Meanwhile, a defiant Tim Cook has publicly and repeatedly voiced his opposition to the court order, going so far as to say the FBI is demanding Apple create "the software equivalent of cancer". Apple's latest move appears to be another step toward removing any hope of the company helping the FBI achieve its ends, regardless of whether or not it's within its power to do so.