Apple Ordered to Help FBI Recover Data from San Bernardino Shooter’s iPhone 5c

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According to a new report from NBC News, a U.S. Federal judge today ordered Apple to help federal investigators access data on the iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. According to court papers, Apple “declined to provide [assistance] voluntarily.”

Prosecutors argued that despite providing a warrant authorizing the search of Farook’s device, the “government was unable to complete the search because it cannot access the iPhone’s encrypted content.” The FBI argued that Apple has the “technical means” to assist the government and, in a statement, U.S. attorney Eileen M. Decker said that the order was a “potentially important step” in finding out “everything we possibly can” about the San Bernardino attack.

Authorities said they were able to access several backups of Farook’s iCloud data, which were saved a month before the attack took place. Prosecutors argued that the evidence in his iCloud account indicated he was in communication with both his victims and his wife, who assisted him in the attack. They allege he may have disabled iCloud data saves after that point to hide further potential evidence.

Last October, Apple reiterated that it “would be impossible” for the company to access data on a device using iOS 8 or later. However, federal authorities are asking Apple to disable a feature that erases the iPhone’s data after a certain number of failed password attempts. It’s still not clear if Apple is able to do so.

Apple stopped storing encryption keys after the release of iOS 8, making it impossible for the company to bypass passcodes to gain access to a device. Additionally, Apple CEO Tim Cook has consistently insisted that providing back-door access past its encryption for authorities would open the door for “bad guys” to gain access to its users’ data.

[via Reuters]

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  • Seeing this article is a good thing, and yet a bad thing as well.
    It shows the police and federal agencies are not able to access phones by force without passwords despite rumours and theories. However is may be possible they could bully Apple into doing so. Whether the person is a horrible person, or an innocent girl, it’s interesting to know our data is in fact safe.

    My comment has no merits to the trail at hand, just the idea of how data is protected on our devices.

  • Jay

    There is no arguement that can be made to justify the government’s position. Privacy matters. It’s great to see the tech industry fight back, especially in light of the Snowden leaks regarding the Prism program.

  • The government wants to set a precedent here, so it can then force other companies to ‘open’ their devices when asked by the courts.

  • johnnygoodface

    Agreed!