How the FBI Cracked the Case of the Locked iPhone

Remember the Apple versus the FBI case? Here's how the FBI cracked the iPhone.

Eric Escobar
4-minute read
Episode #215

What Comes Next for the Case?

Now that the phone has been unlocked, the FBI has done an incredible amount of damage to its legal campaign against Apple. The FBI’s primary reason for forcing Apple to write a new operating system to break its security was that it thought only Apple was capable of unlocking the iPhone. Now that it is unlocked, that argument that only Apple could break into an encrypted phone has been disproven.

In a complete turn of events, it appears that Apple may legally go after the FBI to find out how exactly they were able to get into the phone. I don’t think it’s likely that Apple will find out exactly how it was done. At this point I don’t think there will be many more big headlines coming from this case. However, I don’t think it will be long until we see Apple and the FBI in court again. After all the main question—should Apple be forced into helping the FBI break into its own product?—still hasn’t been answered.

What Comes Next for iPhone Owners?

So what does this mean if you’re an iPhone owner? Well the iPhone 5c that the FBI now has access to is missing the added security feature built into the newest line of iPhone 6s and newer, which is called the secure enclave. If you have an Apple device with the touch ID feature, then it’s highly unlikely that the NAND mirroring attack used by Cellebrite would be able to get into your phone.

However, what’s really interesting here is what the FBI expects to get from the iPhone it has just opened. Before the phone was unlocked, the FBI already had an old backup of the phone from six weeks before the shooting, as well as all text messages, phone calls, voicemails, and emails. The only thing more that I believe they want to be able to see are the apps that are actually stored on the phone, perhaps to find any secure messaging apps that may have been used to communicate with other terrorists or outside help.

I’ll be following this story closely, so feel free to check back regularly for any updates!

Be sure to check out all my earlier episodes at techtalker.quickanddirtytips.com. And if you have further questions about this podcast or want to make a suggestion for a future episode, post them on Facebook.com/QDTtechtalker.

Until next time, I’m the Tech Talker, keeping technology simple!


About the Author

Eric Escobar

Tech Talker demystifies technology and cutting edge devices so that even the most tech illiterate can understand what's going on with their computer or gadget — and what to do when something goes wrong.

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