Andrei Karlov, the ambassador to Turkey, was killed while giving a speech at an art gallery in Ankara three days ago by 22-year-old off-duty police officer Mevlut Mert Altintas. According to MacReports, Turkish police approached Apple about unlocking an iPhone 4s that was recovered from the shooter.
The device is locked with a 4-digit passcode, but it’s unclear if it runs iOS 8.0+ or one of the earlier iOS editions that don’t enforce full disk encryption.
A senior Turkish official told MacReports that Russia will send a special technical team to Turkey to help unlock the killer’s device. Apple is very unlikely to help Turkish officials unlock Altintas’ phone given the firm’s tough stance on security and knowing it refused to help the FBI unlock a San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.
Karlov’s killer showed his police ID to bypass the security checks, pretending that he was his official bodyguard. He was gunned down by Turkish special forces.
Assuming his iPhone 4s ran a pre-iOS 8 version, getting into the phone should be rather trivial using a special device that performs brute-force attacks on the passcode. With just 10,000 possible combinations, 4-digit passcode are very easy to crack.
That’s why those who are concerned about security should switch to 6-digit passcodes that boost the number of possible combinations to more than a million.
iOS 8, 9 and 10 protect everything on the device with encryption keys derived from a user’s passcode and some salt. iOS can also wipe the device clean after ten unsuccessful passcode attempts, but that feature must be manually enabled in Settings.
On the other hand, iPhone 4s runs the Apple-designed A5 processor that lacks an embedded Secure Enclave crypto-engine which strengthens overall security while imposing hardware-based delays on passcode attempts and other advanced features.