New smartphone security foils Government, 'bricks' phone

APPLE has tightened its technological security so not even the company can pry into a password-protected iPhone or iPad in a move meant to reassure the millions of people who are increasingly storing vital pieces of their lives on the devices.

The additional safeguard is part of Apple's latest mobile software, iOS 8, which the Cupertino, California, company released on Wednesday. Apple revealed the stronger protection in a new section of its website that is prefaced with a letter from CEO Tim Cook emphasising the company's "fundamental" commitment to privacy and security.

The company's inability to unlock password-protected smartphones and tablets could frustrate law enforcement officials who sometimes obtain court orders to vacuum personal data off the phones for potential evidence in criminal investigations.

Google also announced overnight it too would beef up encryption of its mobile operating system, so that it would not hold "keys" to devices even if it is served with a warrant.

A Google spokesman said encryption was already offered for the Android system used on smartphones and tablets, but that this will be turned on automatically in the upcoming version of Android.

"For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement," the spokesman said in a statement.

"As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on."

Google has not said when the next update of Android will be released.

The updates come in the wake of revelations of massive government surveillance programmes that sweep up data from computers and other devices.

Leaked documents from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden have highlighted concerns about the role of major tech firms in these programmes.



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