FBI hacks into shooter's iPhone without Apple's help

Los Angeles: The FBI has unlocked the iPhone used by a Pakistani-origin gunman in the San Bernardino attack without Apple's help, the US government said yesterday, ending a legal battle with the tech-giant.

FBI’s success might raise questions about Apple's products' security. Representative Pic/AFP
FBI’s success might raise questions about Apple's products' security. Representative Pic/AFP

Department of Justice said FBI was able to use a new method suggested by a third party to hack into the iPhone.

As a result, the government “no longer requires the assistance from Apple” and is dropping its efforts to compel Apple to crack its own iPhone encryption against its will. The one-month-old legal standoff saw tech-giants of Silicon Valley like Facebook and Google rallying behind Apple, which was fiercely opposed to unlocking the iPhone on the grounds that it will compromise user privacy.

However, FBI's sudden success in circumventing Apple's security measures might raise new questions about whether Apple's products are truly ironclad. “Our decision to conclude the litigation was based solely on the fact that, with the recent assistance of a third party, we are now able to unlock that iPhone,” US Attorney Eileen M Decker said in a statement.

The details of the FBI's new found method of accessing the phone aren't clear but clues suggest that the Israel-based security firm Cellebrite could be the FBI's white knight. The FBI “successfully retrieved the data stored on the San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone,” said Melanie Newman, a Justice Department spokeswoman.

Apple says
“This case should never have been brought. We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated,” Apple said in a statement.

Snowdensays
“The FBI says Apple has the 'exclusive technical means' to unlock the phone. Respectfully, that's bullshit,” said Edward Snowden, a whistleblower.

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