It looks like the encryption showdown between Apple and the FBI is over for now, although it looks like a whole new set of problems may have cropped up. Investigators have asked a federal judge to cancel her order to compel Apple to unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernadino shooters.
The FBI had earlier asked for a stay of execution of the court order against Apple, saying that it had received information that would help it unlock the iPhone 5C recovered from the attack. Now, it seems that the methods employed were successful in retrieving the information and the investigators have no more need for Apple.
While this looks like a victory for Cupertino, who had resisted complying with the courts, it still means that the US government has a way to break into encrypted devices. The FBI is not sharing details about how it broke into the iPhone, but it is widely expected that Apple will be looking into any weaknesses in iOS that would allow third parties to crack the password.
It is not entirely surprising that the FBI managed to crack the password as whistleblower Edward Snowden had previously revealed that the NSA already had the means to do so. While it doesn’t look like the NSA shared its information with the federal investigators, it does go to show that no device is truly secure against a determined hacker. Of course, this generally applies if the attacker actually has the device in their possession.
Getting Apple to comply with a court order would have greatly simplified investigator’s jobs in looking for evidence in this case. However, it would have also set a dangerous precedent that could lead to more orders of the same kind being issued to Apple and other tech companies.
[Source: Washington Post]