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Two thirds of IT and cyber security professionals do not believe Apple should unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone for the FBI, according to a report.

A survey from Unified Security Management and AlienVault found that 63 per cent of those in the industry support Apple and do not think it should comply with the demands. That figure was just 38 per cent when the general American public was recently polled.

IT professionals said they were suspicious of the FBI’s intentions, with 51 per cent of those questioned believing that the organisation is trying to set a new legal precedent that will force Apple and other technology companies to unlock more devices in the future.

They also doubt the effectiveness of the method, as just 33 per cent believe that if Apple complies with the demands it will help law enforcement catch criminals before it is too late.

Meanwhile, 61 per cent said it would weaken Apple’s overall product security.

However, some of the professionals surveyed also showed mistrust of companies like Apple that have started to discuss the issues surrounding privacy in the media.

45 per cent of those questioned said they believe firms entering the debate are doing so just for the PR benefits, and the same percentage think they are trying to protect their brand identities by trying to be seen as responsible and ethical vendors.

“We are clearly at a turning point in the history of internet surveillance and suspicions among those in the know are running high,” said AlienVault security advocate Javvad Malik.

“IT and security professionals can see straight through the public arguments being made about the Apple case. Many seem to view it as a power grab by the FBI, and an attempt to gain significant new powers that could undermine the communications infrastructure used by us all.

“But whatever the underlying motives may be, the outcome of this case will clearly have broader implications on future government attempts to access encrypted information, and the development of legal frameworks for state surveillance powers, such as the Investigatory Powers Bill in the UK.”

In the UK, a cyber security expert recently spoke out against the revised Snooper’s Charter on the grounds that it could leave customers’ data exposed when held by overseas firms.

Dr Adrian Davis, managing director for the EMEA region at (ISC)², called for a minimum level of security to be set to protect consumers’ information.

“The new draft Bill requires companies to make it possible to break their own encryption and hack their own devices, and even to seek assistance from others in hacking their own devices, making it more difficult for them to ensure the security of their customers’ data,” he said.

“Astonishingly, it does not mandate any baseline level of data security precautions or include any infosecurity guidelines to cover all the companies and individuals that will now have to retain customer data and make their devices and encryption hackable.

“Yet without proper data security safeguards, this is a warrant to make our data and personal devices less secure than ever before.”

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