The tool utilized by the FBI to hack into a San Bernardino terror suspect's iPhone does not work on devices more recent than the iPhone 5c. The unlock method, though to have been provided by Israeli firm Cellebrite
, cooled down the simmering dialogue between the FBI and Apple, with the former demanding a way into the device on the basis of national security. But it seems only a matter of time before the FBI or another authoritative agency reignites the debate, particularly if the next locked iPhone is a newer model.
As you'll probably be well aware, Apple and the Federal Bureau of Investigation have recently been at loggerheads over the locked iPhone 5c, which belonged to the terror suspect Syed Farook. The FBI huffed and puffed, demanding that Apple provide a way for authorities to extract info from locked iOS devices. Apple would not budge. But just as it appeared as though a lengthy court battle would play a central role in the wider, ongoing debate on consumer data protection, the FBI found another way into the handset and things quietened down
FBI director James Comey admits that its new-found tool doesn't work for the iPhone 5s or iPhone 6
, so this protracted conversation with Apple is not going away any time soon. The Bureau has long remonstrated with Apple for access to an iPhone 5s belonging to a drug dealer
, and even though a judge ruled in Apple's favor, the FBI has since launched an appeal.
Though Apple has requested the FBI disclose how it got into the iPhone 5c
in question, the government appears to be playing hardball. Speaking at Ohio college's Center for the Study of American Democracy, Comey says that the FBI is undecided on whether to provide the info to Cupertino.
The Bureau is also confident that the supplier of the tool will continue to keep its methodology under wraps.