Tool that hacked shooter’s iPhone 5C only works on ‘narrow slice of phones’

iphone tool hack narrow slice apple se 0021
Jessica Lee Star/Digital Trends
The “tool” the FBI used to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5C does not work on the iPhone 5S or Apple’s newer models.

FBI Director James Comey says the government purchased this tool from a third-party, according to CNN, and the firm in question is highly suspected to be an Israeli company, Cellebrite.

“Litigation between the government and Apple over the San Bernardino phone has ended, because the government has purchased, from a private party, a way to get into that phone, 5C, running iOS 9,” the director said.

The FBI abruptly requested an end to legal proceedings a day before a hearing was scheduled for the monthlong battle between Apple and U.S. Department of Justice. Apple was facing a court order demanding it to provide a backdoor into the shooter’s iPhone, but the company rejected it, fearing for its customer’s security and privacy. The Cupertino company also thinks the special code could get into the wrong hands and threaten the security of all iPhones.

“The people we bought this from, I know a fair amount about them,” Comey said. “And I have a high degree of confidence that they are very good at protecting it, and their motivations align with ours.”

If Cellebrite is indeed the third-party security firm, the government likely purchased a UFED Touch, a tool that can extract data out of mobile phones. But Comey confirmed this “tool” only worked on a “narrow slice of phones,” and did not work on the iPhone 5S, and Apple’s latest devices.

Apple Offer: See which iPhone is the right fit for you

The FBI has been tight-lipped about the method it used to hack the shooter’s iPhone 5C. Apple wants to know the method, and may try to find out through legal discovery in a similar, but unrelated New York case.

The bureau is promising to use the method to unlock iPhones across the country that are locked in criminal investigations, but hasn’t unlocked any phones since using the tool on the San Bernardino iPhone. The FBI has reportedly only disclosed the technique to two senators behind an encryption bill. The bill, which is still in the works, would force companies to comply with court orders demanding access into their services and devices.

“We tell Apple, then they’re going to fix it, then we’re back where we started from,” Comey said. “We may end up there, we just haven’t decided yet.”

The Obama administration has said it will most likely not support any anti-encryption legislation.

Mobile

Apple’s AirPower wireless charging mat may be coming soon

At its September event in 2017, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Deals

It’s time to check out the best Apple Watch deals for March 2019

The Apple Watch has surged to prominence in recent years. If you're in the market for an iOS wearable, we've sniffed out the best Apple Watch deals available right now for all three models of this great smartwatch.
Home Theater

All of the TVs and devices getting Apple’s AirPlay 2 and Apple TV in 2019

Apple is done keeping its AirPlay wireless streaming technology to itself. These are all of the TVs and devices that will get AirPlay 2, and the new TV App, in 2019. The list is growing, so check back regularly.
Deals

Get your hands (and ears) on Apple’s new AirPods — here’s where to find them

Apple's new AirPods with wireless charging are the latest version of the much-loved wireless earbuds. Unfortunately, they aren't widely available yet. Here's where you can find them right now, and where they will show up soon.
Mobile

Scientists wreck a smartphone in a blender, but not just for fun

It’s oddly mesmerizing to watch a smartphone get torn apart inside a blender. Researchers recently did just that in a bid to find out which materials make up a handset, and also to encourage people to think more about recycling.
Movies & TV

Apple’s next big event is minutes away: Here’s what you can expect

Apple's next big event takes place on March 25 in Cupertino, California. The company is expected to make several announcements related to its services, including Apple TV, so follow our guide to get ready for the big event.
Wearables

This $76,000 Grand Seiko watch has something in common with a plug-in hybrid car

How can a watch that costs $76,000 possibly have anything in a common with any car, let alone a plug-in hybrid? It's all about the complex, technically incredible Spring Drive movement inside this Grand Seiko watch.
Deals

The excellent Apple iPad gets even deeper price cuts on Amazon

The humble iPad from 2018 is still one of the best tablets around -- and a solid choice for most people. Amazon has seen some great price drops for these tablets recently, and now you can own an iPad for even less than before.
Mobile

More than a screenshot: How to record the screen on an Android device

If you've ever want to record video of your Android screen, there are plenty of apps that can help. Here's an easy guide on how to record the screen on an Android device with the right settings and apps.
Apple

Apple March 2019 Event Coverage

Apple’s next event will take place March 25 at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California at 10 a.m. PT. We’ve got a handy guide on how to watch, but don’t expect to see any new iPads, iMacs, or AirPods at the show, all of…
Product Review

Want to see how powerful the Snapdragon 855 chip is? Just rev up the Xiaomi Mi 9

How fast do you want to go? If the answer to this is “as fast as possible,” then take a long look at the Xiaomi Mi 9. It’s one of the highest performance smartphones you can buy. It’s a real monster, and we’ve been using it.
Mobile

Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for and start using with your iPhone

Apple is getting into the credit card business. Apple Card is a credit card you can sign up for directly on your iPhone, and it doesn't have fees. There's a lower interest rate and you can even get Daily Cash from all purchases.
Gaming

Apple Arcade might be the new game subscription service worth signing up for

Apple Arcade will launch this fall bringing a new game-subscription service with cross-platform support for iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. At launch, the service will feature more than 100 exclusive games, with more added to the service regularly.
Mobile

Check out 22 of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers for your shiny new phone

The iPhone 7 might be attractive, but it’s not rugged. To keep your device in pristine condition, you really need to think about proper protection. That's why we've rounded up some of the best iPhone 7 cases and covers available.