After weeks of debate over whether Apple would have to comply with an FBI order to unlock the iPhone belonging to a gunman from the deadly San Bernardino shooting, the Justice Department now says it has found an alternate way to crack into the locked iPhone. The FBI claims a third party offered a new hack. Forum discusses what this means for security and Apple’s postponed case.

FBI Says it Doesn’t Need Apple’s Help to Unlock Shooter’s iPhone, Raises Security Concerns 23 March,2016forum

Aarti Shahani, NPR tech reporter
Ashkan Soltani, independent researcher and technologist, former CTO for Federal Trade Commission


    Although I strongly believe we must do everything we can to put an end to this out of hand terrorism that is killing lots of innocent people and causing fear and anxiety across the world .I think that all along the FBI had means directly or indirectly with external help to get information from that phone ,but I believe their real intention is to have access to data of all phones of all citizens as well as others ,in fact the sheriff of San Bernardino few weeks ago said that he does not thinks the terrorist phone have any useful information ,

  • Another Mike

    The pen register of the landline case corresponds to the cellphone metadata that the NSA has been storing for years.
    The wiretapping of the landline case has an exact analogue to the terrorist case — except that the terrorist is dead, and thus is no longer making phone calls. Thus the FBI’s argument does not apply.

  • Robert Thomas

    Removing the flash memory component(s) containing user partitions from the subject device’s circuit board to a test fixture and dumping their content has always been an obvious option here.

    My understanding is that since IOS 8, user files are stored by means of a 256-bit symmetric strong encryption key formed by an “entanglement” of the user-chosen passcode and the individual A6 microprocessor IP’s 256-bit hardware key. This hardware key is required to be known in oorder for trivial brute-force decryption of contents dumped out using the desolder-and-interrogate method above. Else, the problem becomes an enormously difficult although not impossible one. But this has been understood since the first days (hours) of the news of these events.

    Friends of mine have speculated that conventional Focused Ion Beam blasting might be used to reveal the structure representing the subject device’s hardware key but I’m extremely skeptical whether such “FIBbing” in this case could be done without damaging the structure; in the absence of very close co√∂peration with the A6 design team, failure is essentially guaranteed.

    Last night for the first time I heard on the Charlie Rose show authoritarian-minded blowhard John Miller, former Associate Deputy Director of National Intelligence and current NYPD Deputy Commissioner say that the decisions to comply with the FBI’s demand were those of individual engineers, not that of Tim Cook; his remark in passing suggests realization that the legal argument for compelling individuals to conceive of or create a method not currently in existence to meet the agency’s demand might ultimately be problematic.

    Miller further said that he’d “seen the science” associated with the purported “third party” method and “it seemed sound” to him. I’m skeptical whether he’s qualified to make such an evaluation.

    It seems to me not out of the realm of possibility that whatever method may have been proposed, that it might be the better part of valor for federal authorities – unlikely in the present case to have found useful information on this phone in any case – to retreat from a legal program that was looking increasingly difficult in such a way as to cast doubt on Apple’s product integrity without ever having to acknowledge their “third party” method’s success one way or the other.

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