Back in 2016, the FBI and Apple clashed over unlocking an iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook. Things looked tense for a bit, as a showdown over encryption loomed, but the FBI ultimately unlocked the device without Apple’s help.
Now, the Washington Post‘s Ellen Nakashima and Reed Albergotti have pieced together a story about the events around the unlocking and security company that helped the FBI:
Two Azimuth hackers teamed up to break into the San Bernardino iPhone, according to the people familiar with the matter, who like others quoted in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Founder Mark Dowd, 41, is an Australian coder who runs marathons and who, one colleague said, “can pretty much look at a computer and break into it.” One of his researchers was David Wang, who first set hands on a keyboard at age 8, dropped out of Yale, and by 27 had won a prestigious Pwnie Award — an Oscar for hackers — for “jailbreaking” or removing the software restrictions of an iPhone.
Wang would subsequently go on to co-found Corellium, a software firm that developed technology to virtualize iOS for, among other applications, security research. Corellium was later sued by Apple for copyright infringement, though the case was dismissed. It’s a fascinating little winding tale.