According to rumors, the FBI sought help from the Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellibrite in order to hack into San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone 5C.
However The Washington Post says that this was done with the help of professional hackers one of whom belongs to gray hat researchers. The gray hat researchers are known for selling black market groups, surveillance tool providing companies or even any kinks to governments.
Hence it was the hackers who informed the FBI of a previous flaw in the iPhone 5C that gave rise to creating a piece of hardware which ultimately gave access to FBI for surpassing through the four numbered pass-code. This was however done through many attempts without disrupting any data in the phone simultaneously.
These researchers keep themselves at a low profile but do sell out the flaws to the US government in exchange for charging a flat fee for rectifying the same.
The method used here is almost descriptively similar to the one they requested from Apple though before getting this solution FBI had demanded from Apple a solution in the form of a new iOS version which would surpass the code by disabling the security feature.
This would mean that Apple give them something that would allow them to make pass-code attempts at least 10 times without erasing all the data independent of the time constraint. This would also mean that the pass-code would be entered electronically rather than manually.
There exist sufficient proof that shows FBI dealing with Cellibrite to pay $15,000 for the same on 21st March 2016 (which is the same day the Apple hearing was postponed) but it is said that Cellibrite services were not needed anymore as the hackers gave the solution. This led to the case being dropped eventually.
Apple has no plans to sue FBI for obtaining such a method but one thing is clear by FBI’s director James Comey, that the method is not applicable to phones later than the iPhone 5S. Hence the US government has not yet decided on the matter since the method only applies to a small range of phones.