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Apple wants FBI to reveal how it hacked the iPhone

The FBI has been trying to force Apple to do something it doesn't want to for the past few months and now the shoe is on the other foot. Following the FBI calling off its legal demands and announcing it had used a third party to break into the San Bernardino attacker's smartphone, Apple now wants to know how it did it.

The FBI and Apple have been tussling in courts and the press for a couple of months now, with the former wanting the latter to weaken the security on one of its iPhones, in order to find out potentially useful information on the San Bernardino attacker and his possible contacts. Apple repeatedly denied it, drawing support from other tech firms for doing so, as it said that it would affect the security of all iPhones around the world.

Although there was no real winner in the case, the FBI did eventually back down, but was able  to get the job done with what it described as a “third party,” instead. But as Apple has said all along, if a backdoor or flaw exists in iPhone security, that same exploit could be used by anyone, so it wants to know what and where it is, so it can shore up that hole.


Source: iPhoneBlog/Youtube

Much like the original case from the FBI, this is quite unprecedented. As the LATimes points out, while governments and intelligence agencies have used third party security companies and hackers before to help gain access to devices, none of it has played out in the public before. That's why Apple and more importantly, you and I, know about it.

But it does raise constitutional questions. If companies shouldn't be forced to put their customers at risk to help the government, should the government be allowed to put customers at risk without telling the affected company about it?

Apple will no doubt look to find a legal reason to compel the FBI to pass on details on the flaw, as if a flaw exists, it could be exploited by others whether it is disclosed to Apple or not. However intelligence agencies like the NSA have previously kept security holes under wraps for years so they can utilise them for their own efforts.

There is also some concern that now people know a flaw exists in the iPhone's security, that people will come out of the woodwork to try and crack it.

KitGuru Says: Although it seems unlikely that any software can be 100 per cent secure at any point, knowing that the iPhone has a particular weakness may well see people go looking for it. Do you think the FBI should inform Apple on what the flaw is?

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  1. If apple refused to help why should they.

  2. Give them the plans of the hack,on a locked iphone… that`l teach them 😀
    FBI trolling 1o1

  3. because security is important?

  4. Angry Vancouverite

    But homeland security isn’t?

    Let’s be clear, Apple didn’t refuse to help so they can protect privacy or “security” is important. It was a publicity stunt. They wanted everyone to see how “secure” they were and they won’t do anything to jeopardize that. But then it backfired.

  5. pretty much what I was going to say. apple refused to help the us government to find out more information on an attempted bombing and mass shooting perhaps help prevent more of that kind. but what do i know apples security is far more important than peoples lives

  6. Homer J. Simpson

    Jennifer Lawrence would gladly give up more nudes if it means saving people’s lives.

  7. That’s a ridiculous take on it. The FBI was forced to admit in court it had way more iPhones waiting to be cracked, none of them terrorism related. Today’s why Apple refused. If they were forced to crack one, they’d have to crack them all. Encryption is pointless if there’s a back door.

    This is why even Google sided with them on the issue.

    I have as much right to privacy as a terrorist, and the two go in hand. One cannot have it, but not the other

  8. we are discussing this case not others but if other cases had lives at risk and info on them that would save lives apple should help

  9. How can you expect to rationalize with a species of people who thinks that aborting kids is okay?

    Humans are just Vampires now. Sucking the life from the innocent to better their own lives. Nobody cares about personal sacrifice anymore, and nobody has any honor.
    We think the Empire from star wars is evil? lol. They got nothing on us. We’ll kill the rape child who did nothing wrong, but hardly give a slap on the wrist to the rapist. We are the most evil generation.

    About apple hack==
    Like the FBI wouldn’t just share the exploit apple would have helped them develop? Like this woulda been a horrible thing for apple? Someone is willing to help you FIND vulnerabilities in your software! HELP THEM! Apple could have participated, and learned more about their own code. They could have designed better security as a result, everyone would have won, if they participated.

    I expect the FBI to eventually be the bigger man and give them the code they don’t deserve.

    APPLE has as a corporate symbol, an apple that had a bite taken out of it. Right out of Genesis, almost like they are the demons who love the fall of man, and will side on every liberal agenda.

  10. They are linked and I explained how they are linked. I will explain again.

    If Apple had been forced to hack one, they opens the flood gates and ALL iPhones could be demanded to be hacked, for ANY reason.

    It’s one thing unlocking a terrorists phone, its another to hack a petty criminals phone. It’s simply unacceptable.

    You know what would’ve saved lives? Not invading the Middle East.

  11. That’s not quite what happened. From what I gathered, the FBI wanted Apple to break their own security and give them access. If the FBI could demand it here, then it would create precedence in later cases. The FBI could insist that another phone was needed to unlock for terrorist related cases, whether it was or not. Look at how the government treated Lavabit — they insisted on having live access to everyone’s email accounts on the server, and the courts sided with the government and gagged the founder forbidding him from speaking out. If this can happen to them, then it can happen to us. I have nothing to hide, but that doesn’t mean we should insist on a spy-culture.

  12. Are you on a terrorism watch list? Do you have something that would put you on the FBI’s radar? No? Then you have nothing to worry about.

    I don’t care if the feds can access my phone. They’re not going to find anything worthwhile because, well, I’m not a criminal or planning on becoming one.

    Ta daaaa! Problem solved.

  13. The court order was abundantly clear: the FBI only wanted Apple to help with THAT one phone, told them they could hold onto it, and, once unlocked and the info gained, Apple could have it back. The feds would have even let Apple retain the phone while they were getting the info.

    Totally overblown on Apple’s part but hey… what’s new?

  14. Not really, the problem is their thinking they have the right to demand access to your phone. The olde “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about” is straight up bullshit.

    Arguing that you don’t care about the right to privacy because you have nothing to hide is no different than saying you don’t care about free speech because you have nothing to say

    “Too many wrongly characterize the debate as “security versus privacy.” The real choice is liberty versus control.”

  15. From the mouth of Comey himself:

    “Of course it’ll be looked [at] by other judges and other litigants,” Comey said on Thursday. He confirmed that if the FBI won the San Bernardino case it would then seek similar powers in other cases involving locked phones and other devices.


  16. It would establish legal precedent that companies would be required to break their own encryption if the government deemed it necessary. Take a look at Lavabit’s case. The government wanted live access to the entire email server, presumably because Snowden had an email address there. This is far more than what the FBI was asking Apple for. Apple could defend itself since they are a massive company that the public loves, and this was in the public eye. Smaller companies don’t have this luxury.

  17. Not bullshit but truth. I suppose you’ll see it as you choose and that’s fine. That’s your right and I respect it all the same.

  18. While it may have set a precedent, it wouldn’t be an ironclad guarantee they would.

  19. But you can’t respect my right to privacy?

    There are things in this world I’d keep to myself that don’t necessarily have to be criminal, and it’s my right to keep those secrets. If I pass through the TSA with en encrypted phone in the future, Theo have no right to give you the third degree ocer why it’s locked, what you hiding, etc… Because the main reason it’ll be locked and encrypted is to deter thieves, not because I’m a criminal mastermind.

  20. It was ironclad. They would. Of course they would.

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  22. Of course I can. I addressed that already.

  23. hnnn I am still a bit unsure on this case, but you do speak with some calm wisdom. Thank you for your thoughts. I better sit back on this issue and think.