A new report in the war between the FBI and Apple over an iPhone cracking method indicates that the FBI has determined that it may have a new method to crack San Bernardino attacker Syed Farooq’s iPhone. According to CNET, the FBI has requested that a federal court vacate a hearing scheduled for Tuesday intended to legally compel Apple’s assistance in cracking the encrypted iPhone.
As the Inquisitr has previously reported, the FBI has been locked in a battle with Apple ever since the shooting, after a bungled attempt by FBI employees to crack into the phone’s information. As FBI director James B. Comey Jr. admitted, employees assumed that resetting the password to the phone’s iCloud account would give them access to the data — a move which instead locked FBI investigators out of the phone entirely. The FBI then entreated Apple to provide them with a backdoor to unlocking encryption, a move proposition Apple has staunchly opposed, stating that once the method existed, it would be impossible to keep secure or ensure it would only be used appropriately.
“If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case.”
According to Apple Insider, the hack was demonstrated to the FBI by an “outside party;” in fact, the court brief seems to indicate that the hack is specifically being provided by “others outside the U.S. government.” Although the public will likely never know, it is interesting to speculate on whom this “outside party” might be. Speculations infer it could be anyone from young hackers to Silicon Valley start-ups or even a foreign intelligence power. As per a WIRED report, there are certainly enough companies out there who profess to be able to crack iPhone security for a price, something that many, including an anonymous forensic industry expert, have pointed out.
“Forensic companies have been working on ways to extract evidence from mobile phones for years. They develop proprietary software and hardware to do that. It is well-known that these solutions exploit vulnerabilities on the device that allow them to perform these extractions.”
Meanwhile, as per The Register, the FBI’s continued attacks on Apple, bolstered by law enforcement and conservative politicians, sparked protests. On February 23, protests were held against the FBI’s demands in front of Apple stores across America.
As both sides of the debate become more heated and more companies are pulled into the fight on Apple’s side, the FBI’s apparent sudden discovery that iPhones are still hackable without Apple’s help may quell one protest in an age that many see as a police state.
Or, it may be too late. Either way, it is to be hoped by many that an end can be put to this legal battle.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]