The FBI challenged Apple in courts twice in the last few months, asking the iPhone maker to unlock devices. And twice, the Feds had to drop their cases, after finding ways to break into the iPhones. One of the two handsets belonged to the San Bernardino shooters, and the FBI unlocked that one with help from outside experts. Reports suggest the FBI may have paid well over $1.3 million for the vulnerability. But the Bureau said the security flaw doesn’t work on all iPhones, only on the iPhone 5c that belonged to one of the shooters – it didn’t use the same hack on the other iPhone it wanted Apple to unlock.
Even so, the FBI isn’t likely to share with Apple the vulnerability, a new report reveals. It’s more likely that Apple finds it and patches it before the Bureau steps up.
It’s not that the FBI doesn’t want to share the security flaw – though it’s not up to the agency to do it – it’s that it doesn’t know how it works, The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to FBI Director James Comey, the FBI understands how the security issue works, but might not know the technical aspects behind it. The director said that the key question is whether the FBI is “aware of a vulnerability, or did we just buy a tool and don’t have sufficient knowledge of the vulnerability’’ to launch the White House Vulnerability Equities Process.
Hilariously, the Justice Department notified Apple two weeks ago of a different software vulnerability in iPhone and Mac, one that has nothing to do with the San Bernardino shooting. However, Apple was already aware of the issue and fixed it last year. This is the only instance where the government notified Apple of any security issue.