DOJ asks to postpone Apple hearing, may be able to hack into iPhone

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The government on late Monday moved to delay a court hearing in the FBI’s attempt to force Apple to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, citing new research that could help investigators unlock the phone on their own.

“On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking [shooter Syed] Farook’s iPhone,” the government said in a court filing.

The move came one day after researchers at Johns Hopkins University found a security flaw in the Apple software that would allow them to bypass the company’s encryption.

The court filing does not make it clear whether this is the “possible method” the Department of Justice is talking about. However, the government said it wants to try this method before continuing its case against Apple.

The researchers at Johns Hopkins University said the flaw they discovered would most likely not allow investigators to break into Farook’s iPhone. But the team did stress that the discovery undermines the idea that Apple has created impenetrable encryption.

“This testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone,” it said. “If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for assistance from Apple Inc.”

It was not clear if the hearing, set for Tuesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Riverside, Calif., would be postponed.