The ongoing battle between Apple and the FBI over bypassing an iPhone’s security during a criminal investigation took an interesting turn last week, when the government said they had found a method to access the data on the iPhone without Apple’s assistance.
Unfortunately for the FBI, this new trick for bypassing Apple’s encryption is unlikely to remain a secret for long.
Several security experts, along with senior Apple engineers, have spoken to Reuters, explaining that the method used for breaking into the device will leak beyond government agencies. This will be good news for consumers concerned with privacy, as the information will make its way to Apple, and then they’ll be able to patch the security vulnerability in their operating system.
In a statement, independent forensics expert Jonathan Zdziarski said:
“The FBI would need to resign itself to the fact that such an exploit would only be viable for a few months, if released to other departments. It would be a temporary Vegas jackpot that would quickly get squandered on the case backlog.”
The exploit could become widely known in a number of ways, such as the FBI sharing the information with other law enforcement agencies, or the source of the security bypass, which the FBI has not revealed, could choose to sell or give the method to other parties, or even other countries.
In a statement, an Apple engineer told Reuters:
“Flaws of this nature have a pretty short life cycle. Most of these things do come to light.”
Unfortunately, once Apple address the flaw, either in an iOS update or with future iPhone models, the FBI is likely to return to demanding their cooperation, and then we’ll be right back where we were a week ago.