The iPhone used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino shooting was unlocked by a small Australian hacking firm in 2016, ending a momentous standoff between the U.S. government and the tech titan Apple.
Azimuth Security, a publicity-shy company that says it sells its cyber wares only to democratic governments, secretly crafted the solution the FBI used to gain access to the device, according to several people familiar with the matter. The iPhone was used by one of two shooters whose December 2015 attack left more than a dozen people dead.
The identity of the hacking firm has remained a closely guarded secret for five years. Even Apple didn’t know which vendor the FBI used, according to company spokesman Todd Wilder. But without realizing it, Apple’s attorneys came close last year to learning of Azimuth’s role — through a different court case, one that has nothing to do with unlocking a terrorist’s device.
The Post article details the ethics of security hacking and gives a good recap of the fight between Apple and the FBI. I’m not sure I agree with the idea that “Azimuth came to Apple’s rescue” by unlocking the iPhone and ending the government’s standoff with Apple, but there’s a good Sliders episode here for anyone interested in device encryption and backdoors.