What secret method did the FBI use to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist?

How the FBI hacked into the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist
The secret method the FBI used to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist

After lots of tussle between the FBI and Apple who had refused to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist the Federal bureau has been able to unlock the iPhone with the help of some third-party that remains undisclosed. But what secret method did the FBI use to unlock the iPhone, especially when Apple claims that it’s nearly impossible to unlock the iPhone?

As you may know, if you try the conventional methods to unlock the iPhone, the device self-destructs after 10 unsuccessful attempts. Ideally, both Apple and iPhone users would like to know what secret method the FBI used so that Apple can further improve its encryption mechanism.

According to this Reuters link Apple may never find out what secret method the bureau used in order to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist because there is a provision for exceptions when it comes to reporting vulnerabilities to the companies. Legally, under the US vulnerabilities equities process, the government has to disclose security issues to the companies so that more stringent mechanisms can be applied to protect user data.

Apple Inc. has said that it would like to know what secret method the FBI used to unlock the iPhone that they had refused to unlock so that they can make sure that in future the FBI is not able to do so. Isn’t this funny? Anyway, this is how the law works in the civilized world. If it empowers citizens, sometimes, unintentionally, it also ends up empowering terrorists and criminals.

As mentioned above, it’s the US government policy to disclose technology security flaws discovered by federal agencies. The experts in such matters though, say that the government policy is not clear-cut, there are no hard-and-fast rules. If there is a need of national security or law enforcement, the government can decide to not to share the vulnerabilities with the technology company.

According to a blog post by the White House cyber Security coordinator Michael Daniel, “Disclosing a vulnerability can mean that we forgo an opportunity to collect crucial intelligence that could thwart a terrorist attack, stop the theft of our nation’s intellectual property, or even discover more dangerous vulnerabilities that are being used by hackers or other adversaries to exploit our networks.”

The FBI, having already gone through lots of trouble trying to unlock the iPhone of the terrorist, may like to keep the secret with itself to avoid future troubles with the tech giant. The FBI would want the so-called vulnerability to remain as it is – as long as it does not pose a risk to the common public – so that in future if a similar situation arises, the bureau is able to access the contents of the iPhone. If the FBI used some proprietary technology to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino terrorist made by Apple itself, then it may not have to share the secret method used with Apple.

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About Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is the founder of TechBakBak.com. He writes about technology not because "he loves to write about technology", he actually believes that it makes the world a better place. On Twitter you can follow him at @amrithallan

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