FBI wants to use dead terrorist's fingerprints to open his iPhone

FBI wants to use dead terrorist's fingerprints to open his iPhone
The court battle between federal law enforcement officials and Apple has taken a turn to the morbid. Apple has been unwilling to create a version of iOS that would allow the FBI to unlock the Apple iPhone 5c belonging to deceased terrorist Syed Farook. Apple is being asked to override or block the auto-erase feature that automatically wipes an iPhone after ten incorrect passcode guesses. The FBI believes that there is important information on the handset, including possible terrorist connections that Farook and his Wife made prior to the December 2nd attack in San Bernardino that left 14 dead (not including the two terrorists who were cut down in a hail of police bullets).

Other information on the phone could point to possible targets. It is this information that GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump cited as a reason why the phone should be unlocked. But as Apple CEO Tim Cook pointed out yesterday, such software does not exist and if it were to be created, it could end up in the wrong hands which would threaten the privacy and security of every iPhone user.

Desperate, the FBI is considering the use of fingerprints from Farook's corpse as a way to open his phone. Legally, it is easier to obtain fingerprint evidence than a password. Not only is there already precedent when it comes to courts compelling the production of fingerprints, dead people like Farook have no 4th amendment protection against unreasonable search or seizure.

Any issue would be on the technical side since the phone that the terrorist received from his employer, the Apple iPhone 5c, does not come with the Touch ID fingerprint scanner. And even if a scanner could be used on the device, the process would have to be done rather quickly since iOS allows a fingerprint unlocked iPhone just 48 hours to be unlocked via a passcode.

One former NSA employee by the name of Patrick Wardle, told Forbes that the FBI can look back at their own past attempts to break into an iPhone to see if anything could be done to unlock Farook's unit. He suggested that a USB exploit could be found that would help the feds get the info they seek.

Apple has received support for its stance from Google CEO Sundar Pichai and other tech firms as well. Meanwhile, Apple says it is planning on appealing the court order.

source: Forbes

Related phones

iPhone 5c
  • Display 4.0 inches
    1136 x 640 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP (Single camera)
    1.2 MP front
  • Hardware Apple A6, 1GB RAM
  • Storage 32GB, not expandable
  • Battery 1507 mAh
  • OS iOS 10.x



42. AndroidBoy21

Posts: 72; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

but is doesnt' have touch id whats the point then.

35. HonestRealist

Posts: 196; Member since: Jan 25, 2016

Mr Terrorist guy has not registered he's prints on iOS, because he's phone would never have prompted him to do so,,, So iOS wouldn't recognize the prints even if they were to get touch ID working on the 5c.

39. AlikMalix unregistered

I have no idea why we're still talking about FP sensor - the device in question has no such technology on board - null, zero. They would not be able to unlock the damn thing with his finger even if the guy was alive and willing. Done. Finished! No way, no how! Let's talk about really hacking this phone without the need for Apple to make software to give government a back door. Government tried to get in and so far unsuccessful and probably running out of the 10 tries that it has before the phone automatically wipes itself clean. Apple already stated that no software exists and will not make it if it was even possible, because once the government has software to break into this device they can use it to break into yours too. Please can we get on the same page for once.

34. BradyCrack

Posts: 835; Member since: Dec 29, 2015

Lol iOS 10 should improve on security to give FBI the finger.

27. skramer360

Posts: 6; Member since: Dec 20, 2012

I'm not much of an Apple fan, but in this instance I think they are doing the right thing. I hope they stand their ground.

25. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

if that possible, they should use that in the first place, without asking apple and waiting all this long -_-

14. mariosraptor

Posts: 195; Member since: Mar 15, 2012

They can use IpBox

7. Unordinary unregistered

Touch ID knows if the finger is dead or not if I'm not mistaken. This was one of the selling points for its deepskin recognition.

10. Unordinary unregistered

At least I think I read this somewhere????

11. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

I remember that, I think one guy awkwardly confirmed that Touch ID only works with living tissue.

13. Unordinary unregistered

I think I remember it from Apples keynote when they explained how Touch ID works

17. tonyv

Posts: 54; Member since: Mar 12, 2014

you can readily look information up about how their Touch ID works and only works with living tissue lol i can't believe how clueless the FBI seems about all of this. then again, maybe it's the media making them look like total idiots ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

28. ThePython

Posts: 902; Member since: May 08, 2013

Maybe they are total idiots...

18. Trakker

Posts: 283; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

I'm sure I saw on Mythbusters or something there is a way to mimick the electrical current in the finger so it can be read.

23. AlikMalix unregistered

That's all great and all, but the 5c does not have a fingerprint sensor. This is becoming a very interesting sum of events that may spawn a tv special "who will be the mastermind that can hack the dead man's iPhone (dun dun duuuun!)", continued - "in only 10 tries or less" especially after I read this in another article: But the idea that the fate of the free world hinges on one misfit [mcaffee] and his rag-tag team of infosoldiers socially engineering a dead man’s phone into an unlocked state in three weeks when you only have 10 attempts to enter the password before the device self-destructs seems a little…I don’t know, what word am I looking for here? Grandiose? Theatrical? Presumptive? They should have a showdown. They'll start with something easy, like an android device (just kidding), and for the finally an old iPhone. Round 1: .....

37. xfire99

Posts: 1207; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

Believing too much on Apples bulls**ts:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2u4ZLGsw1zo

38. Jimrod

Posts: 1607; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

It's not bulls**t though is it? The touch ID still needs a current to activate and wouldn't work with a dead finger - just because those guys went to some very elaborate measures to get around the system using graphite powder and castings it doesn't mean the system is flawed, there are ways around everything. I think the point of the system is to stop thieves stealing your phone and cutting off your fingers to unlock it. Not meant as some kind of portable Fort Knox that could never be circumvented under any means. Those guys actually showed how difficult it is because most methods didn't work.

44. xfire99

Posts: 1207; Member since: Mar 14, 2012

45. Jimrod

Posts: 1607; Member since: Sep 22, 2014

Excuses for what? No-one's going to take my iPhone from my pocket and realistically be able to bypass the touch ID without a lot of effort. That's the point. I'm not making any excuses for Apple, they haven't lied to me and my phone's as secure as I'd expect for a portable mobile device for public use - What the f**k do you have on your phone that's so special and important that it would take a Mission Impossible team to sneak around getting samples of your fingerprint and re-creating them in such a way they can open the phone? I doubt anyone's too eager to get hold of your dick pics or put a funny Facebook update on your profile that they'd go to such lengths...

6. camera531

Posts: 346; Member since: Jun 30, 2012

19. AlikMalix unregistered

Camera531, did you even read the article? Here is what it says: (sorry for long post everyone) Now keep in mind (if you don't know), these are options for the device -For each of those vulnerabilities, users can turn off a default feature or take an extra precaution to keep out the cops. Wide Open iCloud: A modern iPhone encrypts its storage by default, but sends much of that sensitive data to the user’s iCloud backup by default, too. If the user hasn’t disabled that automatic uploading, police can subpoena Apple for its cloud-based data, including the suspect’s photographs and iMessages. “iCloud backup is a disaster unto God and man,” says Weaver. “It has no security at all against an arrest. They call Apple with a warrant and get a whole host of information.” Fingerprinting: Cops have long taken the fingerprints of arrestees. Now, instead of pressing a suspect’s fingers to an inkpad, police can press them on that suspect’s iPhone’s TouchID fingerprint reader to immediately unlock it. When cops demand a password, a suspect can invoke the Fifth Amendment’s protections against self-incrimination to avoid giving it up. But within the first 48 hours before an iPhone’s TouchID automatically disables, an iPhone user has no such protection for their unique loops and whorls. “If your threat model is theft, the fingerprint reader is brilliant,” Weaver says. “If your threat model is coercion by a government authority, it’s worse than useless.” Laptop Exposure: If cops can’t get onto an encrypted phone, they may have more luck with the suspect’s laptop. There they often find unencrypted backups of the phone. Or, as iOS forensics expert and security consultant Jonathan Zdziarski points out, they can retrieve a so-called “pairing record,” the key that’s stored on your computer that tells a phone it’s a trusted PC. With that stolen pairing record, cops can sync your phone with their computer and offload your sensitive data. Leaky Siri:If a suspect won’t squeal, Siri sometimes will. iPhones have Siri enabled from the lock screen by default, and even from the lock screen it will answer queries for the user’s most recent incoming or outgoing call, contacts, and even their entire calendar. “This isn’t so much of a backdoor as an information leak,” says Zdziarski. Breaking In: If law enforcement can’t find an open door into a phone, it may be able to break and enter. A fully functioning remote zero-day exploit for an iPhone sells for around $1 million, but ones that target phones with outdated software may be more accessible. Just last month, for instance, security researcher Mark Dowd found a method of breaking into any iPhone via its Airdrop bluetooth connection. Apple quickly patched the flaw. But any criminal target who hasn’t kept their phone updated has left a wireless entry way into their phone’s sensitive data. AGAIN! For each of those vulnerabilities, users can turn off a default feature or take an extra precaution to keep out the cops

20. AlikMalix unregistered

As you can see none of these are actually hacking the phone!!! The article even outlines that "the iPhone is the hardest target" I like the "forcing the finger to unlock the iPhone" we'll all one ha to do is shut it down (takes 3 seconds) and when you turn it on again the FP sensor won't let you unlock it until you unlock the phone by pin first. There are also stories about terrorists reporting to iPhone for communication via iMessage for communication as its encrypted end to end - I'm not proud of enabling terrorists, but it makes a Great point. iPhones are just very secure anyway you want to cut it, spin it, or outright lie.

30. S.R.K.

Posts: 678; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

You truly are a big Apple fanatic fanboy,... You know Apple inside out. Accept not good at programming Unix command line scripts. Are you good at C++?

33. AlikMalix unregistered

You got me... I'm not a coder.. .just a construction contractor.... oh what should I do now? the internet, the internet... all lies, all lies... it is ALL LIES...!!! Oh the agony...

4. Bernoulli

Posts: 4364; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

Say what? Do they have him frozen or something? I'd imagine 2 1/2 months is more than enough to decompose a hand, at best it's already in putrefaction state.

8. zacsaturday

Posts: 262; Member since: May 09, 2014

have you not watched ANY crime drama series out there, it is standard procedure to keep bodies in a refrigerated environment. Also, I think there's a regulation to keep samples of their fingerprint and their blood.

16. Bernoulli

Posts: 4364; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

I do, I definitely enjoy some sherlock with Benedict and freeman, but no I'd imagine the family of the couple claimed their bodies for proper burial.

36. HonestRealist

Posts: 196; Member since: Jan 25, 2016

You think the FBI gives a flying fcuk about he's "proper burial" and that they would actually let the family claim anything at all? lol Full retard indeed!

40. Bernoulli

Posts: 4364; Member since: Sep 01, 2012

So I'm a full retard for thinking the FBI would give a f**k about human rights, nice one.

47. gersont1000

Posts: 473; Member since: Mar 13, 2012

Unfortunately, I believe that a terrorist's body is deprived of human rights in the government's eyes. And I say unfortunately because too many things now get labeled as terrorism, as long as they want to use a situation to enact another freedom-removing law. All of these terrorism situations are being used to scare the public into accepting things that they otherwise wouldn't.

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