A Simple Software File

Yesterday, a court in California ordered Apple to assist the FBI with bypassing the iPhone’s encryption and security features to recover the data stored on an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino gunmen. The court order requires Apple to write and install a special software file.

This software file, which one astute observer labelled as FBiOS, would enable the FBI to…

  • bypass the auto-erase (“poison pill”) feature that kicks in after ten incorrect password attempts;
  • enter a series of passcodes electronically, without doing so by hand on the iPhone touchscreen;
  • eliminate the delay that the iPhone introduces after more than four incorrect attempts.

Apple vigorously opposes the order and has vowed to challenge it.


Evidently, there is a fix to Error 53 that angered the world this month. iFixit has learned that replacing the display on a newer iPhone requires that both the Touch ID sensor and the cable joining the sensor to the display panel be paired. Before, the best practice for replacing a broken display screen was to replace the whole display assembly, including the cable that connects to the Home Button (which is now the Touch ID sensor). When a new display assembly is installed, the new cable attached to the Touch ID sensor will not match, thus bricking the iPhone. Apple does this to prevent a fake Touch ID sensor from allowing unauthorized access to an iPhone.

iFixit’s solution to fixing “Error 53” is to remove the old Touch ID cable from the old display and transplant it to the replacement display assembly.

Did you catch that?

After showing us how simple it is to regain access to your iPhone by matching the Touch ID sensor to its cable, the iFixers insist that Apple needs to hear our voices and to write a “simple software tool”:

The request is simple. What we need is a software tool that allows you to re-authenticate your…new Touch ID cable and the Touch ID sensor with the Phone. If they make that simple software tool available, it will un-brick these thousands of phones…

Presumably, iFixit’s request for Apple to write a software tool to bypass security will have to wait until Apple finishes dealing with the FBI’s request for Apple to write a software tool to bypass security.

Update: Apple has in fact released iOS 9.2.1 that fixes “Error 53,” though Touch ID will remain inoperable unless repaired by an authorized Apple service provider.

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