DOJ unlocks San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, withdraws case against Apple

By , Mar 28, 2016

apple_vs_fbi

The Department of Justice filed a request on Monday, asking the court to vacate its order to compel Apple to assist agents in unlocking an iPhone. As expected, the FBI was able to crack the handset without the company’s assistance.

The filing comes a week after the DOJ asked the court to postpone its hearing with Apple, claiming it had found a possible method for accessing the data stored on an iPhone 5c, which belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.

Applicant United States of America, by and through its counsel of record, the United States Attorney for the Central District of California, hereby files this status report called for by the Court’s order issued on March 21, 2016. (CR 199.)

The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in Search dated February 16, 2016.

The short request seemingly brings the high profile case to an anticlimactic end. In February, when the court ordered Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking Farook’s iPhone, it sparked a worldwide debate on user rights, privacy and encryption.

Source: USA Today

Update: Apple has issued a statement regarding the DOJ’s request:

“From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred,” the statement reads. 

Apple went on to say that it will help law enforcement agencies with their investigations to the extent that it can, but will also continue to ratchet up its security measures. “We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated.”

Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy,” the statement went on. “Sacrificing one for the other only puts people and countries at greater risk. This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy. Apple remains committed to participating in that discussion.”

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  • Manuel Molina

    Now Apple finds out how the DOJ did it and makes future iOS software more protected.

    • How did the DOJ crack that phone? I thought Apple said that it was impossible to crack a locked iPhone.

      • Anything can be hacked.

      • Manuel Molina

        Anything can be broken. It’s a code – give time, energy, and money to anyone and watch the code be cracked.

      • Paymon John Vafa

        I believe it is a tech company based in Israel.

      • Bill

        That would not surprise me at all. Fun bit of info- tons of U.S. call records were (and probably still are) handled by israeli companies, amongst other things. Suggest people look into it if they are interested. Probably just some ‘art students’ or kiosk vendors selling zoomcopters… and dancing about 5 at a time celebrating….

      • Sam

        Very true. The very popular gps app Waze is an Israeli company. One reason I don’t use it.

      • Stefany B. R.

        Google bought Waze.

      • Bill

        Joo gotta be kitten me..! Actually, I knew that. Bet that had the founders of the company dancing all the way to the bank!

      • mrgerbik

        I wonder how many people get your references….

      • Bill

        Probably not nearly enough, sadly.

      • nyangejr

        Ben Affleck cracked Lex Luthor’s data in a matter of minutes, why not the FBI

      • Kenrick Fernandes

        comment of the day 😀

      • Nolan I.

        I’m pretty sure they used the chip imaging method that I saw on Reddit as a “possible solution”.

        Basically the processor/NAND is physically removed from the board and reflashed to a previous state that the passcode wasn’t locked out every time they run out of attempts.

        This can all be automated, by using a simulated processor that can be instantly reflashed without having to be unmounted from the board.

        For that kind of hacking, there is no patch.

    • KOZY_Gremlin_Gang

      They won’t be able to The fbi isn’t obligated to release how it was hacked

      • They don’t have to inform the public but they might have to inform Apple:

        eff .org/deeplinks/2016/03/fbi-breaks-iphone-and-we-have-some-questions

  • Jerry

    Damn Daniel

  • Chris

    Funny how the FBI turned this into a public argument about one iPhone, and then proceeded to use alternative measures to ensure access to said device.

    • Anonymous

      Agreed, they were up to something.

      • Tdaniels

        Since we’re on the conspiracy train, maybe Apple did help them. BOOM!

  • Chindavon

    After all this, I bet the only thing in there are a bunch of selfies.

    • Manuel Molina

      Probably some nudes in there too, but they probably could have saw them off icloud.

    • Farid Ahmed

      and some cat videos doing stupid stuff

    • It was a work phone so I’m willing to bet there was nothing of any significance on it at all.

  • Well, damn. I bet Apple are just dying to ask the FBI how they did it.

    • Jovani Hernandez

      The FBI didn’t do it they hired an Israel Firm for help

  • Eric

    I won’t believe it till I see proof. It will probably be tagged as sensitive material for the sake of national security.

  • White Michael Jackson

    Im pretty sure the phone was already unlocked. The fbi just wanted to see if Apple would fold.

    • Gary le

      … would fold towards unkocking many other iphones that they have in possession that are locked.

  • zebonaut

    This means everyones and anyones phone is subject to the same hack by DOJ. I guess our iPhones are only slightly secure.

    • 5723alex .

      No. DOJ admitted it worked only on the iOS 8.x

      • pnh

        So is that a notice to terrorists to make sure they always upgrade to the latest iOS?

      • 5723alex .

        Terrorists use Android.

  • Merman123

    I call BS

  • M_Hawke

    …or is the FBI just making this up (too) to save face?

    • -= J$@ =-

      …or Apple just unlocked it for them!

  • Melvco

    I believe this is a win for Apple, but it seems a lot of folks feel that because the FBI was able to break into this iPhone, it means iOS devices aren’t as secure as Apple has claimed them to be.

    Some thoughts on that…

    I would not be surprised if the phone was unlocked all along, or at the very least, that the DOJ always knew it was possible. The iPhone 5c in question here does not have Touch ID, the Secure Enclave or other high end security-related features, and it was likely on a version of iOS that was easily jailbreakable/exploitable using free/open source software.

    Apple’s stance has always been about future cases—i.e. if we agree to help them with this iPhone 5c, which we could [I believe] easily do, we will eventually have to help them with newer, more secure iPhones.

    The FBI’s stance has also always been about future cases—i.e. sure we can easily get into this iPhone 5c, but this is a good opportunity (a
    terrorist attack on the homeland) to try and set a precedent for future cases that involve more secure smartphones.

  • Benedict

    With making this a big thing and claiming their phones are save, Apple now lost alot of reputation regarding security.

    • Chris

      I don’t see how their reputation took a hit from this, you can take any encrypted device and have a chance at cracking it given you have the time and motivation to do so.

      Just because the FBI said they gained access; doesn’t imply the security of Apple products is instantly void.

      • pnh

        Not void, but not secure, either. If they can get into that phone, they can get into yours and mine, too.

      • Benedict

        The problem is they claimed to be secure. What should their “normal” customers think about Apple products now?

      • Chris

        Secure under ‘normal’ circumstances, the methods thought to be used by the FBI are considered as ‘extreme’ and don’t affect all devices in the same way.

        With newer hardware and security comes the always added additional of another security layer.

      • Benedict

        Not relevant. They explicitly based their comment on this issue and used this incident for their credit regarding “how secure their devices are”. I wouldn’t complain if they hadn’t – but you shouldn’t be so cheeky and self confident if you got alot of reputation to lose (s. Microsoft). But ok, now they have to deal with it…

  • pnh

    Well, now that they’re done with this, I guess that means Pangu is free to work on the 9.3 jailbreak 😉

  • Antzboogie

    Very happy to hear this news in a way. Apple can work on stronger security.

  • iPhoneWINS

    lol apple secretly helped them like they should have jin the first place a and they both agreed to keep it on the hush..lol.. the feds claim a nameless third party helped them lol… I’m just glad this is all over so apple can get back to being boring

  • mrgerbik

    I still think this whole ‘debacle’ was a red herring to placate the masses into a false sense of security.
    ‘Backdoor’ deals (ie- bribery) from alphabet agencies with money, motive and muscle is NOT a new phenomenon.

  • Eduardo Lemus

    We all know Geohot unlocked it

  • #tihor

    Profit for both sides.