Report: FBI Hired Hackers to Crack Shooter's iPhone


The FBI reportedly employed professional hackers to help crack a San Bernardino terrorist's iPhone.

According to The Washington Post, officials used a previously unknown security flaw to unlock the handset without erasing any data. The bureau's mysterious collaborators are, as the Post suggested, "from the sometimes shadowy world of hackers and security researchers who profit from finding flaws in companies' software or systems."

Dubbed "gray hat" hackers, these programmers won't alert manufacturers to exploits, instead hoping the exposed vulnerability will increase in value.

Since Apple introduced encryption by default with iOS 8, federal agents have had a tougher time accessing handsets. Apple says cracking these modern devices would require it to create an entirely new operating system—something it refused to do for the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

Ultimately, the bureau was able to open the smartphone, but its undisclosed method works only on "a narrow slice" of devices. In a recent speech at Kenyon College in Ohio, FBI Director James Comey said the agency purchased a third-party tool that applies exclusively to an iPhone 5c running iOS 9.

Details have not yet been shared with Apple; according to Comey, discussions are ongoing, but the agency is concerned that the tech titan will patch the hole (and others like it), and "we're back where we started from."

Some U.S. senators, however, have reportedly been briefed on the FBI's iPhone hacking secrets, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Richard Burr (R-NC), who are working together on a new bill to limit the use of encryption in consumer technology.

There was some speculation that the feds received assistance from Israeli security firm Cellebrite to unlock the phone, but the Post dismissed those claims.

The FBI did not immediately respond to PCMag's request for comment.

0 Comment

Leave a Reply

Captcha image


  • 5300c769af79e

    Rapid Tech Change Challenges IT Leaders

    Agility is the name of the game for today's IT organizations, but keeping up with the rapid pace of change is difficult.The reason: IT can't deliver fast enough on what individual operating units need.
  • 5300c769af79e

    K7 Ultimate Security Gold 15

    0 reflects the fact that some detected malware samples managed to plant executable files on the test system.Using K7's virtual keyboard, you can enter passwords with no risk of having them captured by a keylogger.
  • 5300c769af79e

    Rethinking the Customer Journey Map

    If you talk to marketers for any amount of time about what they do, you are bound to hear the term "customer journey" at some point.So, if you fantasize about a simple customer journey akin to a Candy Land board game, sorry.
  • 5300c769af79e

    Office 365 Updates Add Machine Learning To Apps

    They are empowered Microsoft is infusing more of its machine learning into Office 365, adding in greater capabilities into Word, PowerPoint and Outlook.Meanwhile, it tweaked PowerPoint for greater flexibility when doing presentations and its Outlook to ease the scrolling and responding to messages.