The FBI Hacks the iPhone; Apple Exempt from Creating Backdoor

The case of the United States Government via the FBI vs Apple is finally over. Following months of work in trying to find a way to break into the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, the FBI has finally found a way through.

The government has withdrawn its case against Apple. The court case and the very public tussle between the FBI and Apple is over.

While details are scarce, the result of the entire ordeal proves to be somewhat of a victory to Apple. The software and hardware giant is no longer required to create a custom OS as a backdoor to aid the FBI in gaining access to the locked iPhone 5c belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.

Just last week, a U.S. Magistrate Judge suspended her Feb 16 order that Apple should help investigators unlock the phone. The FBI had apparently enlisted the help of a third-party who had offered to unlock the phone.

Also read: Apple CEO Tim Cook: Building iPhone Backdoor is ‘Dangerous’; Govt Demand is ‘Chilling’

Prosecutors revealed that the method courted by the FBI from a third-party was first demonstrated to the authorities merely days before the hearing. The government was initially scheduled to report on the effectiveness of the third-party exploit on April 5. Apparently, the FBI has found a way to crack the phone a week before the deadline.

A technological hacking race was set off during the public stand-off between Apple and the FBI, with many security and technology firms trying to unlock the iPhone as a means to getting a marketing boost or even a lucrative government contract, once they prove that an iPhone can be unlocked without Apple’s help.

Also read: Apple Vice President: FBI Backdoor Request Will Cause Hacker Havoc

A CTO at SecureSet LLC, a security firm estimated that there were anywhere between 100 to 150 firms capable of unlocking the iPhone.

While the conclusion to the very-public encryption debate comes to an unexpected and abrupt end, Apple is in the clear, for now, in facing the heat and external pressure to unlock the iPhone by developing a backdoor OS sought by the government.

It is yet unclear as to how the FBI managed to unlock the iPhone.

Featured image of an iPhone 5c from Shutterstock.

Samburaj is the contributing editor at Hacked and keeps tabs on science, technology and cyber security.