According to the director of Federal Bureau of Investigations, the secret San Bernardino iPhone hack discovered for unlocking the iPhone of a terrorist involved in the San Bernardino shootings in California doesn’t work on the newer models of the device. In a speech made on Wednesday night, James Comey, the FBI director also stated that the phone opening tool had been purchased by the FBI from an unidentified third party. He added that he was confident that the hack could be kept a secret by them and the third party as well, only if the government officials were willing to do the same.
Last week, it had been announced by the FBI that they had found a way to open the phone involved, which had brought about the end of a contentious legal battle with Apple Inc. about whether the technology firm could be forced by the government to write software that could be used by the investigators for breaking into the phone and examining the content stored in it by the suspect. This effort had been strongly resisted by effort as the iPhone maker had said that doing what the FBI demanded would compromise the security of all the other iPhone users all over the world.
The iPhone that was involved was a 5C model, which had belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook. He had used the device before he and his wife had carried out a mass shooting at a holiday party of his co-workers, which had killed 14 people and injured 22. Last month, an undisclosed third party had shown Apple how the iPhone 5C model could be unlocked and the FBI has been busy testing the method on other models of the device, which include iPhone 5S and 6. In response to a question Mr. Comey said that the method had proved ineffective for these models.
However, even with this revelation, there are still complicated legal issues involved and the argument between the FBI and Apple over the access to encrypted information by criminal investigators is left hanging. Apple Inc. said that they would continue providing their assistance in the investigation and would also enhance the security of their products due to the rising number of attacks on their data, which are getting sophisticated with each passing day. Mr. Comey also said that it is yet to be decided whether Apple will be told about the security flaw that enabled them to gain access to Mr. Farook’s phone.
He said that this could be an interesting conversation, but the problem was that Apple would eventually fix the issue and the FBI would end up at square one. Apple had been asked to help by the FBI to get around a security feature, which causes the iPhone’s data to be cleared if 10 unsuccessful password attempts have been made. While the legal battle may have ended, the broader one between Silicon Valley and Washington over encryption technology is still ongoing in various other cases. Court papers show that there are a dozen other cases where the FBI wants Apple to help in opening iPhones.