Federal judge orders Apple to help FBI unlock San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone 5c

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Date: Wednesday, February 17th, 2016, 08:19
Category: iOS, Legal, News, security, Software

lockediphone5c

A few months after the San Bernadino shootings, Apple was ordered by a U.S. federal judge on Tuesday to help the FBI unlock the iPhone 5c used by shooter Syed Farook. According to court papers, Apple “declined to provide [assistance] voluntarily.”

The judge ruled Tuesday that Apple had to provide “reasonable technical assistance” to the government in recovering data from the iPhone 5c, including bypassing the auto-erase function and allowing investigators to submit an unlimited number of passwords in their attempts to unlock the phone. Apple has five days to respond to the court if it believes that compliance would be “unreasonably burdensome.”

Prosecutors have argued that 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 have acknowledge that they were able to access multiple iCloud backups of Farook’s data, the most recent of which was saved a month before the attack. 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.

As of October, Apple stated that it “would be impossible” to access data on a device using iOS 8 or later, but federal authorities are asking Apple to disable a feature that erases the iPhone’s data after a certain number of failed password attempts.

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.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via MacRumors and NBC News

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