Cook says software being requested by court does not presently exist

Cook says software being requested by court does not presently exist
Yesterday, we told you that a federal judge had ordered Apple to open up the Apple iPhone 5c that was given to deceased terrorist Syed Farook by by his employer, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health. Today, Apple CEO Tim Cook said opening an iPhone would "threaten the security of our customers."

Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 individuals on December 2nd during an event held by Malik's employer. The pair were killed after engaging the police in a shootout in the middle of a San Bernardino street. Law enforcement officials believe that there could be information inside Farook's iPhone 5c that could help them determine if the couple had any help in planning the attack, what other targets were being looked at, and where the pair visited prior to December 2nd. The feds are hopeful that other information could be inside the handset that could help them gather as much information as possible on the couple's connections.

Apple is being asked to provide software to circumvent the security system on the iPhone 5c in question, including the auto-erase feature that wipes the data and content from an iPhone if the passcode is incorrectly entered ten times. Cook, in a letter to Apple customers, wrote that such software does not presently exist. The executive added that he was concerned that if such software was built, it could end up in the wrong hands threatening the security of all iPhone users.

Cook added that Apple had turned over to law enforcement officials all "data that's in our possession," but he made it clear that Apple will not provide a backdoor for the iPhone. 

You can read a PDF file containing the court order compelling Apple to assist in the search of Farook's rented Lexus, by clicking on the sourcelink.

source: Documentcloud (PDF), TechCrunch

Story timeline



1. TyrionLannister unregistered

I support Apple. Apple is class-leading when it comes to device security and puts android devices to shame. Even they can't decrypt your devices, which is excellent when it comes to privacy. Making a backdoor to that would have catastrophic implications if this software gets leaked. I sympathize with the victims, but there is something bigger at play here. We have no idea what can happen if some crook-minded hacker gets the decrypting keys of iPhones. The damage at global scale is unimaginable. Also there is the issue of privacy.

2. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

+1, first reading the story last night I thought then ability already existed.....but still the U.S. government cannot force Apple to do anything and to try and do so is Orwellian

34. engineer-1701d unregistered

the last part is so fake the gov has your health and financial records ssn and any and all data on you, if they really want all they need to do is take the fingerprints from ins make bio copy on ballistic gell and use it.

50. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

One problem with your theory - the phone in question is an Apple 5C. No fingerprint reader, so no luck with your ballistic gel.

4. natypes

Posts: 1110; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

I don't understand how this can't be done w/o letting it out. De-crypt the device, give the information and destroy any tools/programs used to do it. Why are they so afraid this is going to get out to the public? They could send the phone to Apple, have all the information extracted and the information sent back on a usb. With a very tight chain of custody it would be safe. I think all this "oh no my privacy" crap is a bit tinfoil hat-worthy. And for those of you buying into the fact that apple can't do this L-O-fuking L at you. Of course they are going to say that. So, now all of a sudden Apple is the most honest person in the room? So, a 'hacker' can get his hands on something Apple claims they can't even do? How about no. I guess I'm the crazy one b/c I, on occasion, somewhat trust the government. It's not like I haven't worked for the government for the last 14 years and seen behind the scenes. Trust me, the tinfoil hat guys would be very disappointed and bored to know the truth.

10. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

"And for those of you buying into the fact that apple can't do this L-O-fuking L at you." I don't think you know how encryption works.

11. NLiveris

Posts: 12; Member since: Feb 13, 2012

Sorry dude, but you're absolutely wrong. You cannot trust anybody with anything, ever, especially the government. You're incredibly ignorant and naive.

19. vincelongman

Posts: 5748; Member since: Feb 10, 2013

Agreed The TSA wanted to unlock everyone's bags, so they made a lock which only they should have To no surprise, those keys got leaked, now you can get them easily online The same would probably happen here

20. Lboogey6

Posts: 281; Member since: Jan 31, 2012

Ok soo let me get this straight... You don't like the fact that the government wants to see who's involved in a possible prevention of future attacks and you're worried about the possibilities of selfies being seen? you mean to tell me if he work on a code only with the fbi its going to leak. cool great day in age we live in where we see whats more important in the world

25. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Class-leading? Maybe in vulnerability ( | but definitely not security. Regardless, I too agree with them in this case. Once this tool gets in the wrong hands, it'll literally circumvent everything about security on their devices. I can imagine theft rates increasing again once that happens.

30. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Indeed. I hope Cook and co. remain steadfast here, kind of ironic that a major multinational corporation is more concerned about our privacy than our own government.

33. engineer-1701d unregistered

bull sheet on this i say freeze all assets of apple until they co-operate its in the interest of national security. just pay the blackhats to hack it no big deal they will do it in less than a week

51. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

If it was that easy don't you think they would have done that? Respectfully sir, you appear to not have the slightest clue about how encryption works.

38. marorun

Posts: 5029; Member since: Mar 30, 2015

Yeah iphone are so secure : Both can be breach using the apps. If i crypt my android device you be stuck as well because i be using a long passcode with Capital , small letter , number and symbol so its be unbreakable by bruteforce. Even my SD card is fully crypted right now. So beside the auto destruction features ( thats i admit is nice ) the security on an iphone is nothing special anymore. over 40% of app on apple apps store are vulnerable and not well coded for security android is not much better on thats end but a lil bit better. So as i said before be careful of what you install no matter what platform. PS: who said Apple dont already have such software and only want to look good to clients by saying no? You know smoke screen...

42. Awalker

Posts: 1986; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

I don't think Google can decrypt your phone either but wiping a device is fairly easy.

55. iushnt

Posts: 3152; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Do you think an encrypted android phone, like the one using Knox, can be accessed easily?

58. Plutonium239

Posts: 1243; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

Apple is not class-leading when it comes to device security and has not ever been.

60. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

You are forced to agree to it in their TOS so the only way around it is to stop using Apple products. Windows Phones are just as bad, Android has them in it as well but to a lesser extent and you can at least encrypt the data on your device. Your ISP/carrier and the government also have access to all your text, calls and anything sent/looked at on their data networks so use a VPN that shares IPs between all users and an encrypted call/texting client. VPNs will not offer you full protection, but if they really want your data they will have to spend tons of money and time trying to get it as long as your not leaking your DNS or IP. If the VPN company actually takes your privacy seriously they will have a fun time trying to get data from them. A VPN will keep your ISP out of almost everything you do on their internet. Using HTTPS Everywhere, block trackers (Ghostery + Disconnect will block almost all of them) and blocking ADs helps a ton too, also set your browser to do not track mode. I would recommend getting a SSD that supports hardware encryption like the 840 EVO. It supports hardware based 256-bit AES encryption that has no impact on performance but it will keep your data safe. If you use HTTPS Everywhere Googles services will be secure from everyone but Google, if you can you should switch to DuckDuckGo. If possible use Linux instead of Windows since Windows offers the NSA full access to your info and unencrypted data.

63. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

How funny Apple rips of and milks there customers dry by brainwashing, but when it comes to security it's a no. Lmao.

80. JumpinJackROMFlash

Posts: 464; Member since: Dec 10, 2014

Obviously they can decrypt it or this wouldn't be an issue. They just don't want to for good reasons, but this proves their encryption is a joke which doesn't protect Applesheep.

3. Trakker

Posts: 283; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Well if Louie Gohmert is an example of an American judge then no wonder the federal judges aren't smart enough to know when something's currently impossible.

5. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1363; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

Correct me if I am wrong ( and I may well be) but was it not one of the stipulations for Apple to sell the iPhone in China is to conceed in allowing the country's government access to information it may need in the future? Because if that is the case would Apple Tim Cook, (who flew to China to meet and discus with its government access to iPhone data) not be speaking from both side of it's mouth?

62. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

You are correct, Tim cook allowed to gain access for China. But when it comes to USA, he's a hypocrite. Die Apple. Rip.

6. Arch_Fiend

Posts: 3951; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Gov should Just use some of that high grade tech the FBI or CIA has to break into the phone and get the info. These people were terrorist who killed people, their privacy shouldn't be protected especially if it could prevent other attacks from happening.

7. sissy246

Posts: 7129; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

You only know what Cook tells you , there maybe a way and he is just saying that there is not. I for one don't believe him. I will just say now that we will have to agree to disagree because I feel they should help somehow to get the info off that phone. Just my 2 cents and I am not going to argue with anyone on how I feel.

8. TBomb

Posts: 1660; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

So we have Threat A... to control Threat A we can create Threat B. (Threat A is the fact that people can communicate without worry of any government ever seeing it.. an open door to bad guys (encompasses all people who conduct illegal/not cool activity) (Threat B is allowing a backdoor that would allow someone to access your phone without consent) I would much rather have someone be able to access my texts than have people being able to communicate about hurting me or anyone else worry-free. I 100% agree, we should value and keep our privacy... but I also don't care if the government wants to read my texts with my buddy about meeting for lunch next weekend. All Apple has to do is create a program/script to run on a phone and extract the data. They can keep it proprietary and not share with anyone... They don't have to hand over anything except the data the courts need. I think Apple is just using this as a "Hey People, we're on your side" exploit and is blowing the request out of proportion.

15. j2001m

Posts: 3061; Member since: Apr 28, 2014

Why do the fbi just not work out a way to hack the iPhone iOS, Apple always have loads of bugs, when they work out a way to hack it, login to the bad man phone, just pay some hacker and they be in within hours

17. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." -Benjamin Franklin-

22. tedkord

Posts: 17463; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

You're right, we should immediately stop checking bags at airports, open the borders completely, never grant police warrants. I feel safer and freer already.

28. joeytaylor

Posts: 957; Member since: Feb 28, 2015

To live in a free society. ...some things have to be accepted

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