On Monday, the US Department of Justice withdrew its case against Apple, announcing that the FBI was able to unlock the San Bernardino's terrorist’s iPhone without Apple’s assistance. The dispute pitted Apple CEO Tim Cook against FBI Director James Comey and the entire US intelligence community. Apple argued that providing code that would unlock its technology could fall into the wrong hands, violating the privacy of millions of consumers in the future. The tech giant contended that by developing a master key, it would open a pandora’s box of hacking and software manipulation. The FBI disagreed, asserting that Apple should comply with law enforcement’s limited request of unlocking the single phone of an Islamic terrorist responsible for the death of dozens of Americans.
However, it appears as though the feds have managed to circumvent Apple’s security features and crack the code. The Justice Department issued a statement on the new developments in the case:
The FBI has now successfully retrieved the data stored on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple required by this Court Order,
The FBI is currently reviewing the information on the phone, consistent with standard investigatory procedures.
Unsurprisingly, Justice Department spokeswoman Melanie Newman wouldn’t specify how the federal investigators managed to Trojan Horse the supposedly unbreachable walls of the iPhone.
BREAKING: FBI uses mystery method to break into gunman's iPhone without Apple's help, ending court case.— The Associated Press (@AP) March 28, 2016
While Apple didn’t comment on any consequent logistical and corporate considerations given of FBI’s "mystery method" data encryption crack, it did try to assure customers that its products are safe and secure. Here’s what Apple said following the Justice Department’s revelation:
We will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.
This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy.
Apple remains committed to participating in that discussion.
As jihadism goes global, terrorists will likely harness the power of increasingly sophisticated encryption technology to send cross-border communications and plan potential attacks. As a result, the debate over whether tech companies should cooperate with the federal government and potentially expose consumers to privacy breaches will inevitably ensue, underscoring the perennial tug and pull of security vs. privacy.