Johns Hopkins Figured Out How to Hack the iPhone Before the FBI Did

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The stand-off between the FBI and Apple over a terrorist’s locked iPhone is on pause; the intelligence agency has apparently  found someone capable of hacking into the mobile device without a court order. But this whole kerfluffle could have been over a lot sooner, if the FBI had just called up Johns Hopkins.

A day before the FBI revealed that an “outside party” had revealed how to break into the phone, Johns Hopkins computer science professor Matthew Green announced that he had figured out a back door into Apple’s messaging system. (Despite the auspicious timing, Green swears that he’s not the one who helped the FBI hack into the phone.)

Green has come to the attention of security experts before. A few years ago, the university asked him to take down a post on his personal blog that was critical of the NSA. (The university later backed down.) He’s also the guy who developed an even-more-secure version of Bitcoin. So it’s no surprise that he was on the side of those criticizing the FBI for requesting Apple to hack their own products: “Even Apple, with all their skills—and they have terrific cryptographers—wasn’t able to quite get this right,” Green told The Washington Post. “So it scares me that we’re having this conversation about adding back doors to encryption when we can’t even get basic encryption right.”

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