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

by

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

(View all)
Avatar
59 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
59 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)
Avatar
59 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)
Avatar
59 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
59 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
59 months ago
Good ol' Secure Enclave.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Pro Demand Higher Than Expected

Sunday October 18, 2020 10:39 pm PDT by
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note this morning detailing what he's seen with the volume of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders in the first weekend of sales. Kuo had previously indicated that Apple's estimated shipment allocations for the new iPhone models placed the iPhone 12 at the top with 40-45% of inventory allocation (up from 15-20%). However, ...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12

Monday October 19, 2020 11:54 am PDT by
Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out. Subscribe to the ...

Some Apple Watch SE Owners Experiencing Issues With Overheating [Updated]

Monday October 19, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
There may be an issue with the new Apple Watch SE, which some users have found is overheating after a few hours of usage. Several Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea have run into problems, as noted in a Reddit post chronicling the complaints. There have been six reports from Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea who have had their Apple Watches get hot and malfunction, with a yellow spot...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Apple Plans to Enable 5G in Dual SIM Mode With Software Update Later This Year

Monday October 19, 2020 9:20 am PDT by
iPhone XS models and newer feature both a physical SIM slot and a digital eSIM, allowing for a feature known as dual SIM, dual standby. This means you can have two lines of service on one iPhone, which is useful for purchasing data-only plans while traveling abroad or having personal and business lines on a single iPhone. 5G will not be available in Dual SIM mode on the iPhone 12 and iPhone...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...