A court, hearing which was scheduled for Wednesday to make Apple Inc. help the FBI to unlock an iPhone used by a San Bernardino terrorist, has been postponed at the request of the US Justice Department. The DOJ said that the FBI may have discovered a way to hack the phone.
According to the prosecutors, a “third party” has demonstrated a possible way that could allow the FBI to unlock the iPhone without Apple’s assistance.
“Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone,” a court filing said, as quoted by the BBC. “If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple.”
Melanie Newman, a DOJ spokesperson said that the government is being “cautiously optimistic” that it would be able to pass through Apple’s security systems with the new method.
US magistrate judge Sheri Pym on Monday stayed her previous order asking Apple to help the government crack the security passcode, citing uncertainty on the part of the government.
The FBI has been seeking to get through the passcode of the iPone owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, to gain access to the information on the phone. But entering the wrong passcode multiple times can delete all the data from the phone.
The FBI asked Apple to come up with a new version of the operating system that will help investigators get past some of its security systems. However, Apple refused to comply citing that creating a compromised version of the system would put millions of other iPhone users in the danger of security breach.
“The FBI has been viewing security as an impedance rather than a necessity. That the Bureau may not need Apple’s help to access the phone points up what’s been true in this case all along: the FBI needs to strengthen its own technological capabilities,” the Guardian quoted Susan Landau, a professor at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts and a cyber security expert, as saying.
She added that she is not the “outside party” who came up with the potential breakthrough.