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Apple’s New Challenge: Learning How the U.S. Cracked Its iPhone
By: New York Times
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Now that the United States government has cracked open an iPhone that belonged to a gunman in the San Bernardino, Calif., mass shooting without Apple’s help, the tech company is under pressure to find and fix the flaw. But unlike other cases where security vulnerabilities have cropped up, Apple may face a higher set of hurdles in ferreting out and repairing the particular iPhone hole that the government hacked.

The challenges start with the lack of information about the method that the law enforcement authorities, with the aid of a third party, used to break into the iPhone of Syed Rizwan Farook, an attacker in the San Bernardino rampage last year. Federal officials have refused to identify the person, or organization, who helped crack the device, and have declined to specify the procedure used to open the iPhone. Apple also cannot obtain the device to reverse-engineer the problem, the way it would in other hacking situations.

Making matters trickier, Apple’s security operation has been in flux. The operation was reorganized late last year. A manager who had been responsible for handling most of the government’s data extraction requests left the team to work in a different part of the company, according to four current and former Apple employees, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the changes. Other employees, among them one whose tasks included trying to hack Apple’s own products, left the company over the last few months, they said, while new people have joined.

The situation is in many ways a continuation of the cat-and-mouse game Apple is constantly engaged in with hackers, but the unusually prominent nature of this hacking — and the fact that the hacker was the United States government — creates a predicament for the company.

“Apple is a business, and it has to earn the trust of its customers,” said Jay Kaplan, chief executive of the tech security company Synack and a former National Security Agency analyst. “It needs to be perceived as having something that can fix this vulnerability as soon as possible.”

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This article was published by the New York Times. A link to the original post can be found below. www.nytimes.com
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