While the FBI has successfully accessed the data on the iPhone 5c in the San Bernardino shootings, and the court battle is over for now, the government says that it may not accede to Apple’s demand to be told the method used.

The White House said back in 2014 that the government would consider the pros and cons of disclosing vulnerabilities discovered by its various law enforcement agencies. ArsTechnica asked whether the FBI would reveal the method used in this case, and was told that it wasn’t saying one way or the other …


“We cannot comment on the possibility of future disclosures to Apple,” the law enforcement official said in response to a question from Ars.

However, given a CNN report that the method used was specific to the iPhone 5c, which lacks the Secure Enclave of later iPhones, it seems likely that the NAND mirroring technique described by Edward Snowden was used.

With this approach, the effaceable storage is copied, ten attempts made to access the device and then the original data written back to the NAND memory to reset the counter. Israel mobile forensics company Cellebrite was said to be the company carrying out the work for the FBI.

Photo: iFixit iPhone 5c teardown

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