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Mastering your devices: Lessons from Apple Vs FBI By Emeka Oparah

I don’t know how many of you following the imbroglio between Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) over the latter’s request for access to hack into an iPhone retrieved from an alleged terrorist. Apple has remained adamant in its refusal to grant the FBI’s request stating that it would breach the integrity of their products, which thrives among other reasons on the security features. Even if some conspiracy theorists believe the altercation is an orchestrated marketing stunt by Apple “ably assisted” by the FBI, the dimensions and the conclusion of the fight promises to be epic.

Now, I am a proud lover of Apple products. I own an IPhone, Ipad, Ipod, Macbook Air and Apple TV, and the experience is world class. The products are great. Customer service is great. Support Service is wow! I cannot begin to tell you how excitingly convenient it is to navigate from one device to the other, and everything you have in one device is available in the others. In fact, I intend to get an IMac soon to complete the works! One more thing: these products come with reader-friendly manuals, which help me understand, appreciate and enjoy the products. Now, enough of Apple and let me go to the point of this piece-which has everything to do with MANUALS.

 As a rule, I take my time to read the manuals, which come with anything I buy including electronics, mobile phones, cars, etc. And guess where I store them? In my bathroom! You know it really gets quite boring in there often, so I occupy myself (beyond the normal call of duty) with reading manuals. That’s if I’m not with my IPad or iPhone. Without proper understanding of a product, you cannot optimally utilize it much less enjoy it.

I recall back in the day when GSM mobile first hit Nigeria. Our Call Centres then in Econet, as the company was known, used to be inundated with calls main related with lack of grasp of the devices rather than the products and services. Trust Nigerians to buy the most expensive devices only to struggle with them for weeks before they can even make basic use of it. I also remember buying a Sharp Sound System. A colleague bought the same set. One day he visited me and was shocked, he confessed, at the quality of the sound my own set was producing. So, I put my right close to the front of the set and a section of it slid down revealing an equalizer. He screamed: “ECO, I swear, my own doesn’t have it. Mine is fake! No wonder it doesn’t produce good sounds.” I was surprised myself, but then I asked that we went to his house to check it out.

My flabber was gasted when I discovered that a transparent tape used to hold the sliding portion in place during packaging was still there. In effect, my friend simply plugged the stereo to the main and started “enjoying” his new acquisition, without first interrogating the manual which came with it. I removed the tape, and because my hand was close, the sensor activated automatically and the front slid to reveal the same equalizers like mine. I adjusted the equalizers and his living room immediately came alive. My friend was happy. I showed him in the manual, where I saw that and several other things he wouldn’t possibly have ever known, except and unless he studied the manual.

Now, back to Apple and FBI and here’s the real issue: The FBI is asking for “technical assistance” from Apple to give them unlimited number of guesses to crack the PIN. The challenge actually is that the terrorist, or alleged terrorist had mastered his iPhone and activated a security feature that has made it IMPOSSIBLE for the all-knowing FBI to hack into the devise. When you open the settings of your iPhone and go to Passcode (Touch ID and Passcode, for the later editions), it will ask for your PIN and then when you scroll to the bottom of the page, you will find a toggle button option. If you turn it on, you have chosen to ERASE all data (pronounced like the first A is eh not ah) after 10 failed passcode attempts. (See attached photo)

Once you have that activated, if someone tried to break into your Apple devise, it will start counting the number of failed attempts until the 9th, when it warns you to either go for passcode assist (usually a security question), which only the owner can answer. Since the FBI cannot answer the question, they have, therefore, approached Apple to assist them by extending ad infinitum the number of attempts they can make in their quest to hack into the devise for whatever information they are looking for.

I know there are many people who carry Apple devices but haven’t taken adequate time to read through the manual or even join the online communities, which I belong to, where all manner of questions are asked by users on how to resolve all kinds of issues and make optimum use of their expensive devises. This looks like a wake-up call  not only for Apple users but all those who buy electronic devices, phones, tablets and even cars and motorbikes to make out time to master those gadgets for better understanding and optimum utilization.

Now don’t ask whether I’m a terrorist. A friend who owns the latest iPhone6 S actually added the Touch ID feature to protect himself from his suspecting wife. Well, he got a bit tipsy and his wife came rubbing his silly head and took his hand straight to the phone and got him to place his thumb on the home button and the phone unlocked! He didn’t realize what happened until one week later when the woman had garnered enough data and summoned him to a meeting where she was reeling out some confounding “facts and figures”. That’s a joke, though, but you must try and know your devise (s) because it could be a thief not his wife that gained access to the phone.

A stitch in time saves nine, they say. By the way, find time to familiarize yourself with the Cyber Crime Act of 2015. There’s something in it that reminds me of the Patriot Act of the United States. Check.

Mastering your devices: Lessons from Apple Vs FBI By Emeka Oparah Mastering your devices: Lessons from Apple Vs FBI By Emeka Oparah Reviewed by Emeka Oparah on Thursday, February 25, 2016 Rating: 5

1 comment

  1. Some people are impatient or nonchalant when it comes to reading the manuals of their beloved gadgets. Some just buy gadgets because it happens to be the in-thing, or a friend or celebrity they know owns such gadget. Same goes for cars, electronics and other things that comes with a manual. Most people underutilize their gadgets.

    As for the FBI and Apple Inc., I think the FBI just gave Apple the opportunity to reassert to world how secure Apple devices are. There's always the business angle.


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