Even though the FBI vs. Apple saga related to cracking into the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter has ended, the US agency has tried to be a little helpful and cooperative. For the first time, the FBI told Apple about a security vulnerability in its iPhone and Mac on April 14 under a controversial White House process called the Vulnerability Equities Process. However, Apple has already fixed the vulnerability with the release of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan last year.
FBI tries to appear helpful and cooperative
The investigation agency had previously said it would not reveal how it hacked into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. There were reports that it had hired an Israeli security firm and paid a handsome $1.4 million to unlock the iPhone. The FBI told Reuters that the White House process under which it disclosed the vulnerability to Apple balances the needs of law enforcement agencies to hack into devices and the needs of manufacturers to fix those flaws before criminals could exploit them.
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How the US agencies decide to share details about vulnerabilities in electronic and telecommunications products has come under renewed scrutiny since the FBI announced that it had broken into the iPhone of the San Bernardino shooter. The FBI’s move to share details with Apple could have been an effort to show that it would use the White House process to disclose security vulnerabilities when it can.
Apple asks users to move to iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan
An Apple executive told Reuters that the FBI’s decision to share the flaw did nothing to change the tech giant’s perception that the Vulnerability Equities Process is far less effective than has been claimed. Apple declined to provide technical details, though it assured consumers that the problem affected only older iOS and OS X. The vulnerability was fixed with the release of iOS 9 and OS X El Capitan.
The Cupertino company has no plans to issue a security patch for the vulnerability affecting older iOS and OS X versions. Apple asked users to upgrade their devices to iOS 9 and OS X instead. According to the company, more than 84% of active iPhone users are running the iOS 9 or later.