The case pitting Apple against the FBI in court is now effectively over after the Feds announced yesterday that they were able to break into the phone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook without Apple’s help.
In a three sentence filing, the FBI said that it no longer required Apple to build a backdoor into its iOS operating system because they’d accessed it another way.
The filing did not, however, detail exactly how the FBI was able to access the iPhone. Some are speculating that an Israeli company called Cellebrite may have been the ones, but neither the company nor the U.S. government have confirmed a relationship.
Whether the government will ever tell Apple or the rest of us how they hacked the phone remains a mystery and hinges on whether the Feds decide to follow a little-known procedure called an equities review, which was created to determine whether the government should disclose security flaws.
While the court battle may be over, some say the Apple vs. FBI saga is far from finished. There are still concerns about iPhone security and workarounds, data privacy, and future searches.
Jason Healey, senior research scholar at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs, Founding Director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative of the Atlantic Council, and the former Director of Critical Infrastructure Protection at the White House (2003-2005)