FBI Director Says Method of Unlocking iPhone Can't Be Used on iPhone 5s or Newer

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FBI Director James ComeyAfter disclosing its method of accessing the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook to a few U.S. Senators, the FBI today released a new sliver of information regarding the highly secretive invasive steps the organization has taken to get into the iPhone in question.

FBI director James Comey gave a few hints about "a tool" from a private party that it used to gain access to Farook's iPhone (via CNN).

In a speech at the Biennial Conference at Kenyon University, Comey mentioned that the tool purchased from the private party -- reportedly Israeli mobile developer Cellebrite -- only works on a "narrow slice of phones," which does not include models of the iPhone 5s and after. Although that range allows the FBI to enter into Farook's iPhone 5c, the beefed up security of the A7 chips of the 5s and onward limits the organization's ability to use Cellebrite's tool for any of its more recent security-locked iPhone cases.

After the FBI said it found a method of getting into the iPhone used in the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, the Cupertino company promised it would insist on obtaining the details of the exploit if the case were to move forward. Since the Justice Department officially dropped the case against Apple, the company can't ask for that information, and Comey said the government is contemplating the pros and cons of looping Apple in on the situation.

"We tell Apple, then they're going to fix it, then we're back where we started from," he said. "We may end up there, we just haven't decided yet."

Even though the official legal battle is over, Apple's statement at the end of the lawsuit referred to the company's continuing promise to "increase the security" of all its products as the threat against user data becomes "more frequent and more sophisticated."

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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57 months ago

The FBI shouldn't have to explain anything, they went to Apple, who said no way and then got it done through someone else, that simple. The last thing Apple deserves is an explanation of how someone else was able to do in two weeks what they claimed couldn't be done at all, Apple either lied about it or weren't qualified to do it.

Ah, the posts of someone who is clearly completely unaware of the digital forensics industry that is funded by the likes of the NSA, GCHQ, etc.....
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago

Not as unaware as Apple is of how to access their own device, apparently.

Apple did outline exactly how it could be done. The problem was that tool, in the wrong hands, could be used by anyone who got it to break into iPhones. There was never a statement that it was impossible, just that it was impossible without destroying nearly half a billion iOS device's security paradigm.

But hey, you clearly just want to rant off about how inept Apple is at not allowing state actors to trample on citizens rights so I'll just let you continue.
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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57 months ago
Apple has to love this. FBI just told everyone they need to upgrade their phones.

Apple sales/upgrades spike tomorrow ;)
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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57 months ago

"We tell Apple, then they're going to fix it, then we're back where we started from,"

That's what you suggested anyway, remember? That Apple should create that one-time loophole and then destroy it. That its just about this one case. Does that ring a bell?

Not that we believed that for a second ...
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago
I'm no supporter of the FBI in this situation, but I know a little bit about military security.

And this is the dumbest thing the director could have said. Shouldn't a weakness like "we can't get into these specific phones" be classified? Why would you announce that? That's like saying (during the Cold War) "Hey Russia, we can't launch our ICBMs on February 29th because of a date bug, so if you want to start World War III do it on that date."

If they took this seriously AT ALL, they wouldn't have made this announcement. It's just one more proof that this is a political game more than anything.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
57 months ago
Good ol' Secure Enclave.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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