FBI Director: Tool Used to Hack iPhone 5c Came From a Party

Ever since the news broke that the FBI has managed to crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c’s encryption, questions have arisen about whether the tool used is able to crack the security of other iPhones as well. Speaking with CNN, FBI director James Comey dismissed such claims.

IPhone 5c yellow

You may already be aware of the legal and media battle between Apple and the FBI and how it ended: The DoJ ultimately dropped the case against the iPhone maker after successfully accessing the data stored on Farook’s iPhone 5c; therefore, it didn’t need further assistance from Apple. Previously, the FBI had used the All Writs Act in an attempt to force Apple to develop software (GovtOS), which would have made it easier for the FBI crack the handset’s security.

“Litigation between the government and Apple over the San Bernardino phone has ended, because the government has purchased, from a private party, a way to get into that phone, 5C, running iOS 9,” Comey said.

In an interview with CNN, Comey said the FBI purchased a tool from a private party (multiple reports point to Cellebrite as the FBI’s helping hand), which allowed them to access the data. However, this doesn’t seem to work on iPhones with secure enclave – iPhone 5s or later.

The FBI director also said the purchased tool worked only on a “narrow slice of phones” that does not include the newest Apple models, or the 5S.

Now the questions are (1) is the FBI bluffing? and (2) will it disclose the method used to Apple. Comey is afraid that if they disclose it to Apple, the next software update would patch the flaw. So, as he said, “we just haven’t decided yet.”

Technology enthusiast, rocker, biker and writer of iPhoneinCanada.ca. Follow me on Twitter or contact me via email: istvan@iphoneincanada.ca

  • johnnygoodface

    Good luck keeping this information a secret! It’ll come out eventually!

  • SV650

    “…Came from a party?” Strange use of the word in this context.

  • Ashley Mann

    First word: starts with a b. Anyone? Yes its, bull. Second word: hint, before you left for work this morning…. Anyone? Right, shit.

  • BigCat

    I think the answer to your questions depends on what the US Government wants the public to think & believe.

    For months various agencies of the US Government have been following what seems like a well managed script. Though weekly news conferences, and leaks that seemed to happen with perfect timing.

    Did the FBI purchase a hack (possibly they even used PayPal to pay for it)? Remember, these are the guys who put a man on the Moon in 1969. The NSA employs over 100,000 people. And that’s only where the numbers begin. So, are they the buyers or are they really the sellers of such solutions?

    I am still amazed at how the CIA utilized the movie “Zero Dark Thirty” to shape public perception (great movie by the way).