The US government is holding fire on a legal case to force Apple to help unlock an iPhone 5C after saying that it has been approached by an "outside party" that may be able to unlock the phone.
As a result, the US Department of Justice has asked for a brief postponement of the case, presumably while it sees whether the crack works. If it does work it could put the legal issue over asking Apple to create a backdoor on hold.
Apple still vehemently opposes the unlocking of its passkeys, and CEO Tim Cook used the launch of the new iPhone SE and iPad Pro 9.7in devices to reiterate the firm's stance against the FBI's and the government's demands.
"We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government, but we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy. We owe it to our customers, and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility," he said.
The "outside party" referred to by the DoJ is likely to be a security company that has discovered a vulnerability in the iPhone that may enable it to undertake the passcode cracking the FBI needs.
If that is the case it may be that other iPhones have since been protected with updates such as iOS 9.3. If they have not, however, Apple will be frantically searching for the potential hole in its software.
However, even if the outside party is able to crack the phone, it will not put an end to the battle between technology companies and governments over the use of encryption to protect data.
To hear more about security challenges, the threats they pose and how to combat them, make sure you sign up for the Computing Enterprise Security and Risk Management conference on 24 November.
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