FBI director James Comey has confirmed to CNN that the method used by the law enforcement agency to unlock the iPhone 5c of Syed Farook’s, one of the San Bernardino shooter, works only on a “narrow slice of phones”, and it does not work on newer phones from Apple , which includes anything above the iPhone 5s.
Comey also vouched for the intentions of the private party from which the FBI had purchased the unlocking tool. He said that he has a “high degree of confidence that they are very good at protecting it [the tool], and their motivations align ours [the FBI].”
As for whether the government will reveal how the tool worked and how they managed to retrieve all the data from Farook’s iPhone 5c, Comey said that this is still being debated by the government officials. If they reveal how the tool worked, Apple will end up fixing it, and then both parties will be back to where they started from.
While Comey did not reveal the name of the third party from which the FBI purchased the tool, various reports have confirmed it to be an Israeli company called Cellebrite. The unlocking method used by the company is not yet known, but now that Comey has confirmed that it only works on certain older iPhones, I doubt it is going to be a cause of concern for Apple. Of course, it is also entirely possible that Comey is making this statement to make sure that the FBI does not have to reveal the method of the hack to Apple.