We’ve heard plenty of bluster about how the FBI won’t tell Apple how it cracked the iPhone 5c at the heart of the San Bernardino shooting case, but there’s another possibility, too: that the Feds can’t tell Apple how it did it.
Why? Because according to a new report, citing Obama administration sources, it may not actually have legal ownership of the method in question.
The Justice Department has so far declined to say exactly who helped it crack the iPhone 5c in the case. Although we originally thought it was Israeli-tech firm Cellebrite — which was paid a $15,000 sum for its troubles — it now appears that it might have been a group of professional hackers who specialize in hunting for software vulnerabilities.
Either way, without cooperation from the companies, the FBI is allegedly unable to reveal exactly how the iPhone hack was made possible.
This stops them from taking the usual route designed for software vulnerabilities, which involves a procedure called the Vulnerabilities Equities Process — whereby security flaws are examined by various government agencies who decide whether they should be disclosed to the companies involved.
However, the rules of the Vulnerabilities Equities Process does not cover any security vulnerabilities discovered by private companies.
Clever loophole or genuine problem for the FBI? I guess we’ll wait to find out.