FBI says it bought a ‘tool’ to hack iPhone

Apple iPhone 6

FBI Director James Comey has revealed that the government had purchased “a tool” from a private party in order to unlock the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters.

“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,” Comey said.

In late March the FBI dropped its lawsuit against Apple after revealing that a third-party provider had found a way to defeat the encryption protocols used by Apple’sĀ iOS.

Apple refused to help the FBI, stating that creating a backdoor into its iOS platform would compromise the security for all iPhone users.

On Wednesday the FBI revealed further information about the company that provided the iPhone hack.

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

The FBI director also said the purchased tool worked only on a “narrow slice of phones” that does not include the newest Apple models, or the 5S.

The agency says it is still determining if it should share the hack with Apple.

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