David Kravets, writing for Ars Technica, explains that the government may not explain (or ever be required to explain) the method they used to crack the iPhone of the alleged San Bernardino shooter:
“We cannot comment on the possibility of future disclosures to Apple,” the law enforcement official said in response to a question from Ars. Just a week ago, Apple told reporters in a conference call that it would insist in court on knowing everything about the vulnerability.
This isn’t exactly surprising, given that the FBI (and other law enforcement) would surely like to be able to hold on to this vulnerability to unlock the dozens of other iPhones they’re holding. Given that the San Bernardino iPhone was an older model running an older version of iOS, it’s possible this method won’t work with newer phones…but it’s also possible it would.
Of course, the bigger question is whether this vulnerability is significant enough that it puts other users at risk. My guess is that it almost certainly requires physical access to the phone, so it’s not something that people should be freaking out about, but that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be found and patched, with or without the government’s help.