For weeks, a fierce battle raged between the FBI and tech giant Apple. The FBI had recovered an iPhone 5C from one of the San Bernardino shooters who killed 14 people and had ties to terrorist groups. However, the FBI couldn't see what was on it due to the built-in security.
When the FBI asked Apple to weaken the security on the iPhone, Apple refused. This led to a very public legal fight that saw companies and people taking sides on what Apple should do. Then, the FBI suddenly dropped the case, and the reason was it found a way into the iPhone that didn't require Apple's help. But how did it get in?
Security experts have been speculating on that question, and have figured that the FBI either found a previously unknown hack or bought a hack from a third party. Now FBI Director James Comey has revealed a new piece of the puzzle.
In a statement, he said that the FBI got "a tool" from a third party. That third party isn't disclosed, but he did say, "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."
That means it probably isn't the $170 tool we talked about earlier this week that can unlock an iPhone 5C. However, apparently the tool the FBI has only works on certain iPhones like the iPhone 5C, and not the 5S or any of the newer ones.
Director Comey also said the FBI is considering telling Apple how the hack works so it can fix it, but you shouldn't hold your breath.