The Apple iPhone hacking method that cracked the handset open for the FBI isn’t likely to be made public anytime soon. While it was a safe bet to get a bit nervous when the government investigative agency announced they no longer needed Apple to unlock the iPhone that belonged to the San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, it appears the agency was careful not to put millions of users around the world at risk.
The FBI hired a private hacker group in order to unlock the killer’s Apple iPhone, and this group is one that tends to patent its hacking approaches. If a company is going to be in business as a hacker, it needs to make sure it can keep up demand by not telling the world how it does its business. This is particularly the case when talking about the hacking method that helped the FBI get a look inside the Apple iPhone that was owned by one of the most notorious serial killers in the last few years.
Reuters reports the Obama administration isn’t in any hurry to announce how they were able to unlock this particular Apple iPhone either for many of the same reasons. When it comes to this kind of technology, the White House has a policy in place for reviewing flaws and figuring out which ones it will reveal to the public. Those reveals are done if the administration feels as though the public might be in danger if the flaws were kept private. The government said it’s not set up to reveal this kind of information if it is discovered or owned by a private company.
The Obama administration instead will leave it up to the firm to go public, so this looks like a closed circle. All of this comes amid the still intense firestorm of debate that has sparked up about privacy issues. At the center is whether or not the Apple iPhone the San Bernadino shooter should have ever been unlocked against the wishes of the Cupertino company. On the one side, are the people who believe the shooter’s death, coupled with his crimes put an end to his expectation of privacy. On the other hand are the people who are always nervous when the government worked as hard as it did to violate a person’s privacy.
The FBI has tried to convince people this hack of Farook’s Apple iPhone 5C isn’t something privacy rights advocates should be worried about. For one thing, the unlocking used will not work on other models of the Apple iPhone. The Apple iPhone unlocking employed in this case is also being called a one-time thing, and the assertions the method won’t be completely revealed has some saying those raising concerns are making a mountain out of a molehill. The flip side of this is there is already a bit of information out there about how the company managed to open up this Apple iPhone. The Washington Post reported anonymous sources close to the investigation gave them a bit of a rundown of the method of cracking the Farook’s Apple iPhone.
“The new information was then used to create a piece of hardware that helped the FBI to crack the iPhone’s four-digit personal identification number without triggering a security feature that would have erased all the data”
The sources told the newspaper. While the FBI is attempting to claim bygones are now bygones, two weeks after they were able to hack the Apple iPhone the shooter owned, Apple still isn’t happy. Tim Cook took a hard line against helping the FBI open this particular iPhone. Now that it’s been opened, Cook will have to take solace in the agency not trying to burn the Apple iPhone’s security measures to the ground.
[Photo by Eric Risberg/AP Images]