FBI Cracks Apple’s iPhone: What People Are Saying

I waded through the flood of commentary so you don’t have to.

Here’s how fast big news gets commoditized.

I learned at dinner Monday from my Apple Watch that the FBI had broken into the San Bernardino iPhone without Apple’s help. By Tuesday morning, Techmeme had gathered 66 headlines and 20 choice Tweets. A Google search for “FBI cracks iPhone,” meanwhile, returned nearly 3 million hits.

A sampling of the latest statements circulated about the case:

Department of Justice: The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple.

Apple: We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.

Edward Snowden: Journalists: please remember that government argued for months that this was impossible, despite expert consensus.

Oren Falkowitz: The FBI made a mistake in trying to force Apple’s hand. Setting up an unintentional iPhone hacking challenge isn’t in anyone’s best interest.

Daniel Rubin: You just know Tim Cook is dying to ask the FBI how they did it.

Wall Street Journal: A government official said the method to unlock the phone wasn’t developed by a government agency, but by a private entity.

New York Times: [A] federal law enforcement official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to reporters on Monday said it was premature to say whether the method it used to open the phone in the San Bernardino case could be used on phones in other cases.

Errata Security: I doubt the technique was the NAND mirroring one many have described, or the well known “decapping” procedure that has a 30% of irretrievably destroying the data. Instead, I think it was an 0-day or jailbreak. Those two communities are pretty large, and this is well within their abilities.

Christopher Soghoian: DOJ: We’re not giving the iOS 0-day to Apple. Apple: We will continue to help law enforcement in other cases. Way to play hard ball, Apple.

Jonathan Zdziarski: FBI: Look at our new toy! NSA: That’s not new.

Apple: “This case should never have been brought,”

Dan Primack: Has anyone considered that this is just an ingenious marketing campaign by Apple to get people to upgrade to newer iPhones?

Jonathan Zdziarski: As an American who helped fund the FBIs massive exploit purchase this week, I demand to know what kind of evidence was on Farook’s phone.

Ben Thompson: No one comes out of this looking good. Whatever alleged “marketing benefit” Apple achieved from selling secure phones has to be dinged by the fact this phone was broken into; meanwhile the FBI not only didn’t get the precedent that Apple and other companies ought to help them, but also look rather foolish and incompetent.


  1. Richard Wanderman said:

    What bothers me about all of this and what people are not commenting on is that Apple gave the FBI the contents of the iCloud backup of that phone. It was missing a month, but if it hadn’t been missing a month they’ve have willingly given the FBI the entire contents of the iPhone.

    So, if you’re using iCloud to back up your iPhone, Apple could just as easily get into your data and give it to the FBI without cracking your iPhone.

    Remember, iCloud backup is the entire iPhone so as far as I can tell, there’s little difference between giving the FBI access to the iPhone (if it were possible) and giving them the iCloud backup.

    It might be that the difference here is that this iPhone was not owned by the Farook, it was owned by the institution but it does give me pause to think that Apple provided the contents of that iPhone to the FBI.

    March 29, 2016
  2. Carolyn Sills said:

    The thought crossed my mind that the FBI still hasn’t hacked the phone and they said that to save face. It won’t be the first time Comey lied….

    March 29, 2016

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