Tag - IPhone 5C
The FBI may not have spent as much to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c than previously claimed by the director of the bureau, according to a report. A previous suggestion by Director James Comey that put the price of the hack in excess of $1.3 million dollars is being declared as an over-inflated number, with numerous government sources of a report putting the figure somewhere below $1 million.
The FBI, in a new case involving a murder, has applied for a new warrant to renew expired ones in an effort to extract further data from a seized iPhone 5s running an unknown version of iOS which the agency believes has further information than it originally extracted with the help of its contractor Cellebrite. The latter company was able to obtain location data from the iPhone, according to the court filing, but failed to go further, which caused older warrants to expire. The FBI now seems to be planning to use its recently-obtained new tools and its own San Diego forensics facility to unlock additional location information.
Despite evidence to the contrary, reports are circulating that it was not Cellebrite technology at the core of the San Bernardino iPhone 5c unlock. If rumors are to be believed, a cadre of "professional hackers" including ones that sell flaws to governments penetrated the phone using a zero day exploit in conjunction with a custom piece of hardware designed for the device, and other iPhone 5cs running iOS 9.
Apple has confirmed reports that it will not sue the FBI in an effort to get the agency to reveal the method it used to crack into the San Bernardino iPhone 5c, saying whatever method the FBI ended up using will have "a short shelf life," as the company has made significant improvements to security in later iPhones and operating system updates, and users upgrade their iPhones routinely. In a related case brought by the US Department of Justice in New York, however, Apple may require the FBI to reveal the method in order for the agency to prove in court that its claim that the hack doesn't work on newer iPhones is true.
FBI Director James Comey has declared today that the "tool" that the FBI purchased to penetrate the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c will not work on newer phones. The director said earlier today in an interview that the technique will only work on a "narrow slice of phones," preventing its use on the iPhone 5S, and newer.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is no longer keeping its method to unlock the iPhone 5c at the center of the San Bernardino encryption debate a complete secret, as it is reportedly telling senators how it was accomplished. Intelligence Committee Vice Chair Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has allegedly been informed of what was done to the iPhone to bypass the encryption, with the FBI also said to be briefing Committee Chairman Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) on the same details in the near future.
[Update: government has now filed for withdrawal from the case] Ahead of the required April 5 progress report, USA Today is reporting that the FBI and US Department of Justice will withdraw its legal action against Apple, in which it was seeking to use the All Writs Act to compel Apple's assistance in hacking into a work-issued iPhone 5c given to San Bernardino gunman Syed Farook. An unnamed official said that the method of bypassing the security features preventing the agency from "cracking" the device's security has been successful, and the agency has now officially filed to withdraw from the action.
The third party that the FBI is leaning upon to attempt to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c is said to be Israeli firm Cellebrite. The multifaceted company with an office in New Jersey, has developed technology over the last 17 years of business to extract data from mobile devices as a bit-for-bit copy of the entire device, one of the goals of the FBI and Department of Justice to allow a brute force attack on the phone.
A few hours ago, the US Department of Justice filed to vacate tomorrow's hearing, as it has apparently found another method to access the San Bernardino shooter's work-owned iPhone 5c. The filing says that on Sunday, an "outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook's iPhone" which "should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple Inc. ("Apple") set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case."
In another surprise move by the US government, and further complicating the iPhone 5c penetration tool saga, the Department of Justice has asked that the hearing scheduled for Tuesday, March 22 be made an evidentiary hearing -- accelerating the discovery process significantly. Both Apple and the Department of Justice will be given opportunity to subject witnesses that have made court filings to cross-examination. (updated Friday, 6:19 PM ET)