FBI Trick for Un­lock­ing Cell likely to Leak

The Economic Times - - Around The World -

San Fran­cisco: The FBI’s method for break­ing into a locked iPhone 5c is un­likely to stay se­cret for long, ac­cord­ing to se­nior Ap­ple en­gi­neers and out­side ex­perts.

Once it is ex­posed, Ap­ple should be able to plug the en­cryp­tion hole, com­fort­ing iPhone users wor­ried that los­ing phys­i­cal pos­ses­sion of their de­vices will leave them vul­ner­a­ble to hack­ers.

When Ap­ple does fix the flaw, it is ex­pected to an­nounce it to cus­tomers and thereby ex­tend the rare pub­lic bat­tle over se­cu­rity holes, a de­bate that typ­i­cally rages out of pub­lic view.

The Fed­eral Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion last week dropped its court­room quest to force Ap­ple to hack into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shoot­ers, say­ing an uniden­ti­fied party pro­vided a method for get­ting around the de­ceased killer’s un­known pass­code.

If the gov­ern­ment pur­sues a sim­i­lar case seek­ing Ap­ple’s help in New York, the court could make the FBI dis­close its new trick. But even if the gov­ern­ment walks away from that bat­tle, the grow­ing num­ber of state and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties seek­ing the FBI’s help with locked phones in crim­i­nal probes in­creases the like­li­hood that the FBI will have to pro­vide it. When that hap­pens, de­fense at­tor­neys will cross-ex­am­ine the ex­perts in­volved. Al­though each lawyer would mainly be in­ter­ested in whether ev­i­dence-tam­per­ing may have oc­curred, the process would likely re­veal enough about the method for Ap­ple to block it in fu­ture ver­sions of its phones, an Ap­ple em­ployee said. In a memo to police ob­tained by Reuters on Fri­day, the FBI said it would share the tool “con­sis­tent with our le­gal and pol­icy con­straints.”

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