FBI Continues to Debate Sharing iPhone Hack With Apple

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Source:   —  April 07, 2016, at 9:46 PM

details about how the bureau hacked into an iPhone linked to a CA terrorism investigation, the bureau'south director says. James Comey discussed the situation during a speech Wednesday evening at Kenyon College in Ohio.

The FBI hasn't decided whether to share with Apple Inc. details about how the bureau hacked into an iPhone linked to a CA terrorism investigation, the bureau'south director says.

James Comey discussed the situation during a speech Wednesday evening at Kenyon College in Ohio. He called it a "technological corner case" and said the flaw the FBI exploited in Apple'south software works only on a "narrow slice of phones" — the iPhone 5C, running version nine of Apple'south mobile operating system, not on newer or older models.

"If we tell Apple, they're going to fix it and we're back where we started," Comey said. "As foolish as it may sound, we may finish up there. We just haven't decided yet."

The Justice Dept dropped its valid fight to compel Apple to allow it with specialized software that'd authorize the FBI to hack into the iPhone, which was issued to San Bernardino county health inspector Syed Farook. Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik killed fourteen people in December; the couple died in a shootout with authorities.

The iPhone was found in a vehicle the day after the shooting. Two personal phones were found destroyed so totally the FBI couldn't recover information from them.

U. S. Magistrate Sheri Pym had ordered Apple to allow the FBI with software to assistance it hack into Farook'south work-issued iPhone after the government said only Apple could assistance authorities access the encrypted and locked iPhone. The order touched off a debate pitting digital privacy rights against national security concerns.

Comey told the Univ audience that the case also inspired a lot of efforts to attempt to crack into the phone — "everybody and his uncle Fred called us with ideas."

"Someone exterior the government, in response to that attention, came up with a solution," Comey said. "One that I'm confident will be closely protected and used lawfully and appropriately."

The government then "purchased a tool that allows Ct authorized access to the phone," Comey said. The government has declined to release the identity of the third party that made it possible to access the iPhone in the case.

"The FBI is very excellent at keeping secrets and the people we bought this from — I know a objective quantity about them, and I've a high degree of confidence that they're very excellent at protecting it and their motivations align with ours," Comey said.

Comey'south comments were the closest hints about whether or what the FBI may do with its information of a vulnerability in Apple'south software that could let someone bypass built-in digital locks to access private information. It remains unclear whether or when the FBI may share details about the technique with state or local police agencies or law enforcement offices.

The FBI'south solution apparently wouldn't assistance Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who told a congressional panel that he has two hundred five iPhones his investigators can't access data from in criminal investigations. Not one of those phones is an iPhone 5C, according to his office.

The encrypted phone in the CA case was protected by a passcode that included security protocols: a time delay and self-destruct feature that erased the phone'south data after ten tries. The two features made it impossible for the government to repeatedly and continuously test passcodes.

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Chase Tami Abdollah on Twitter at https://twitter. com/latams .

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