The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) looked into “legal and technical options” for breaking into another terrorists’s iPhone. Wired reports that potential prospect of a second legal showdown between Apple and the Bureau was raised in a statement issued today by the FBI.
The case in question involves Dahir Adan, who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall last month before a police officer shot and killed him. The fundamentalist militant organization ISIS claimed credit for the attack, but the agency said “no evidence has emerged to suggest ISIS had a hand in planning or executing the attack.”
At today’s press conference in St. Cloud, Minnesota, FBI special agent Rich Thorton said that the law enforcement agency has obtained the attacker’s passcode-locked iPhone. The article did not mention the exact iPhone model nor did it make it clear which version of the iOS operating system was installed on the suspect’s device.
“Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked,” Thornton said, “We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.”
The FBI is still “trying to figure out” how to gain access to the iPhone’s contents.
The very mention of possible “legal and technical options” signals that the Bureau could attempt to obtain a court order that would compel Apple to break into the device. Another (way more likely) path for the FBI: buy a zero-day exploit that would break the passcode, as it’s reportedly done in the case of the San Bernardino attack.
Many tech giants stood in support of the Cupertino firm after the FBI demanded that Apple compromise iOS security by creating a one-off version of the operating system.
The Bureau would then install such software on San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s iPhone 5c to carry out brute-force attacks on the password without any limitations.
Apple’s boss Tim Cook likened the request to “the software equivalent of cancer.”