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Apple flips tables on FBI: Tell us how you hacked shooter’s iPhone

by Todd Haselton | March 30, 2016March 30, 2016 7:20 am PST

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The FBI first wanted Apple to provide a way to hack into one of the San Bernadino shooters’ iPhones. Apple said no, the two fought in court and, ultimately, the FBI dropped the case. It said it found another way into the iPhone without the help of Apple.

Now Cupertino is flipping the tables.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Apple is now requesting that the FBI provide data on how it broke into the iPhone. Ultimately, it seems, this is to further protect the privacy of consumers, and Apple probably wants to fix whatever hole the FBI found. Except, since the FBI had such a hard time getting information from Apple in the first place, the government agency isn’t going to make it easy to get that information.

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The Los Angeles Times raises a fantastic point: “Should tech companies be made aware of flaws in their products, or should law enforcement be able to deploy those bugs as crime-fighting tools?”

Tech companies regularly award enterprising developers with huge cash sums if they can find holes in their products, and, often, companies such as Google will publish bugs in software from competing firms to force the entire industry to be more vigilant with keeping software privacy and security tight. But, since the FBI so desperately wanted a back door and, ultimately, found one, it seems unlikely it will play by the same rules.

So how did the FBI get in? According to the Los Angeles Times, someone tipped off the feds about a way to hack into an iPhone by “incorrectly [guessing] more than 10 passwords without permanently rendering the phone’s data inaccessible.” Seems there’s some sort of bug there, since providing the wrong password that many times would usually permanently lock a phone or even reset it.

Now that Apple has that information, however, you can bet it’s going to work round’the’clock to get that hole patched up.


Todd Haselton

Todd Haselton has been writing professionally since 2006 during his undergraduate days at Lehigh University. He started out as an intern with...