The FBI has dramatically postponed its court date with Apple, after announcing it may have discovered a way of unlocking the iPhone at the centre of the landmark case without the help of the Cupertino company.
According to an unnamed insider at the FBI, federal authorities were approached by an ‘outside party’ who said they could break into the iPhone belonging to Syed Farook, the terrorist behind last year’s San Bernardino attacks, in which 14 people died.
Until now, the FBI had insisted it required Apple’s help to build special software in order to unlock the device.
When Apple was ordered to do so by a judge, it hit back, saying that breaking into a single iPhone would set a ‘dangerous precedent’ that could cause security issues for millions of iPhone owners.
The FBI now has until April 5th to prove that it can hack into the iPhone in question.
The postponement of the court date comes less than 24 hours after Apple CEO Tim Cook said during an Apple launch event that he wanted to protect iPhone users’ privacy from hackers.
If the FBI can hack into the iPhone, it raises further questions as to whether it will simply go ahead and break into the device, or go back to court in order to tussle with Apple over its legal right to do so.
Many security analysts and hackers, including the whistle blower Edward Snowden, believe that the FBI has always had the capability to crack into any iPhone it wants.
The fact that an ‘outside party’ has been brought on board, however, backs up FBI Director James Comey’s claim that federal authorities do not have the technical ability to match engineers at Apple in particular and Silicon Valley in general.