Now Apple needs US govt help to fix iPhone hack

  • HT Correspondent, Washington
  • Updated: Mar 30, 2016 20:52 IST
An anti-government protester holds his iPhone with a ‘No Entry’ sign during a demonstration near the Apple store in New York last month. (AFP FILE)

Apple needs the US government’s help now to ascertain how its investigators unlocked an iPhone 5c used by the San Bernardino terrorist, and fix it. But the government is not cooperating.

The government has not identified the person or organisation who helped it hack the phone, or detailed the process how it was done. It has only said a company from outside the government helped.

The Cupertino, California tech giant is under pressure to ascertain the weakness in the phone’s security systems that allow it to be accessed, and fix it.

Reuters said Apple could get a chance to press the government for details, if the latter continued to pursue a case to force the company to unlock an iPhone in another case.

The justice department will disclose over the next two weeks whether it will continue with its bid to compel Apple to help access an iPhone in a Brooklyn drug case, Reuters said citing a court filing on Tuesday.

The justice department told a California court on Monday it was dropping a case against Apple to compel it to unlock the iPhone belonging to Syed Rizwan Farook, the terrorist behind the San Bernardino shootings.

Apple had refused to cooperate, citing privacy concerns.

The FBI managed to access Farook’s phone with the help of a company from outside the government, which approached it earlier this month, according to court filings.

But it has given no details, which could help Apple fix it.

The New York Times reported, citing forensic exports, that “the government might have attacked Apple’s system using a widely discussed method to extract information from a protected area in the phone by removing a chip and fooling a mechanism that blocks password guessing, in order to find the user’s password and unlock the data.

“The authorities may have used a procedure that mirrors the phone’s storage chip, called a NAND chip, and then copied it onto another chip. Often referred to as ‘NAND-mirroring’, this would allow the FBI to replace the original NAND chip with one that has a copy of that content. If the FBI tried 10 passcodes to unlock the phone and failed, it could then generate a new copy of the phone’s content and try another password guess.”

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