Government opens Farook's Apple iPhone 5c without Apple's help

Government opens Farook's Apple iPhone 5c without Apple's help
The Justice Department announced today that it was able to open up the Apple iPhone 5c that was used by deceased terrorist Syed Farook, without Apple's help. Suspecting that there might be some clues inside the phone about the San Bernardino attack that killed 14, the Justice Department asked Apple to turn over all information it could pull out of the handset that Farook had used. But Apple said that it was unable to do so without building a new version of iOS that was quickly dubbed Govt. OS. Apple was concerned that if it developed Govt.OS, the code would come out allowing hackers to steal personal information from iPhone users around the world.

Apple's decision not to comply with a court order forcing them to unlock the device became a nationwide issue; many sided with Apple, and others were unsure why Apple wasn't punished for contempt of court. A court hearing that was going to be held last Tuesday was canceled after the Justice Department announced out of nowhere that it had found a third party to unlock the phone.

The Justice Department released a two paragraph statement today saying that the government has successfully accessed the data on Farook's phone and no longer required assistance from Apple. Thus, it was a win-win situation. The feds get their data, and Apple does not have to risk the privacy of all iPhone users world wide. But the battle will still go on. Last month, a federal magistrate judge in the Eastern District of New York refused a government request to force Apple to open an Apple iPhone 5s to release information in a drug case in Brooklyn. The Justice Department is appealing that ruling.

The government is remaining silent on how it unlocked Farook's iPhone 5c. Late last week, there was some talk that Israeli software company Cellebrite had entered into a $15,000 contract with the FBI for the purpose of opening the phone, but that has not been confirmed. Some believe that Apple should be given the opportunity to find out how the phone was opened so that it can close the opening and make the phone secure again. But considering how badly the government wanted to unlock this phone, and how it might need to unlock more iPhones in the future, we don't expect the government to be open to that suggestion.

Now that the phone has been opened, the Justice Department has officially dropped its legal case against Apple.


source: NYTimes

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

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98 Comments

96. TechieXP

Posts: 25; Member since: Mar 29, 2016

HAHAH i knew it, Apple's security is not no where as secure as iFans like to claim it is,

91. isprobi

Posts: 797; Member since: May 30, 2011

If the head of Apple were missing and his left behind iPhone might have clues I bet Apple would crack that phone. Possibly saving other people's lives is not so important.

83. natypes

Posts: 1110; Member since: Feb 02, 2015

In reality Apple agreed to do it only if the FBI agreed to say they got in another way. And the world goes on and ...................... EVERYTHING IS AWESOME .......EVERYTHING IS COOL WHEN YOU'RE PART OF THE TEAM

81. danchoi704

Posts: 39; Member since: Apr 18, 2008

Now apple wants to know how they did it so they can patch it.

80. mfarooqi

Posts: 3; Member since: Jan 01, 2015

I don't know if through some way it's true or not.. but I can bet.. now onwards, people will start relying more on Apple, and they will start putting their personal information on icloud and Apple server, and eventually Apple will say . Haha how was the joke!.. Now we know everything :D :D :D..

79. legiloca

Posts: 1676; Member since: Nov 11, 2014

This is just f**ked up really..

75. phonehome

Posts: 812; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

How about an option to have a phone automatically erased if not unlocked in a set amount of time?

74. Trakker

Posts: 283; Member since: Feb 11, 2016

Normally I'd laugh if I see another IOS security flaw but this time I want Apple to really lockdown the iPhone security to keep the government's grubby hands off the contents of people's phones since the corruption in the US government guarantees they'll use this for financial gain.

64. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

I'm going to don the tinfoil hat here for a moment and posit a new theory: Cellebrite has close ties with Apple. Apple backed themselves into a corner where losing the case could have dire impact on privacy granting the government far too broad an overreach. And, winning the case could make them a parriah with the feds who then might seek retribution in the form of tax/revenue audits and regulations, an onslaught of new cases, maybe even effecting the outcome of Apple's numerous patent litigations. So... In order to save face, Apple unlocks the phone for the FBI through a 3rd party, Cellebrite. Apple stood their ground. The feds got their access. Everybody wins.

67. AlikMalix unregistered

Very possible - I like how you laid the considered cons and pros for both entities all out... good job...

78. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Possible, but not very likely. This was just a lose for Apple all around. The were losing the public debate, though by a razor thin margin. This makes it apparent.that their security can be bypassed, but they have no idea how. That doesn't make the public confident in your product.

62. flavius22

Posts: 218; Member since: Aug 23, 2015

How can anyone think a piece of software will prevent FBI to EVER acces a phone? GUuys... those paedophilia movies have to go to the bin asap

68. AlikMalix unregistered

FBI in reality isnt the FBI you watch on TV series... These are mostly the same workers as the ones at the DMV....

58. chaosnightmare

Posts: 182; Member since: May 20, 2010

It would be funny if now they releasse the code just to screw apple for not helping them

60. talon95

Posts: 1012; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

If they release it Apple will patch it in a week. Half the FBI agents have iPhones, not sure they really want to release it. The FBI will want to keep it under wraps if they can to use it on the next device.

61. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

then apple will just release some hot patch to fix it :-/

56. ibend

Posts: 6747; Member since: Sep 30, 2014

lets forget abouy govt OS and compile a whole story this way: - FBI cant unlock that phone and ask Apple to unlock it - Apple cant.. and they said such tool didnt exist - FBI ask apple to make program to crack open that phone - Apple refuse to make one, because they fear it may fall in wrong hand ... - Now some random Israeli company have that tool, they can sell it to whoever they want.. and Apple didnt have any control over it, lol

66. AlikMalix unregistered

if were in fantasy land today, then: lets forget about Apple vs FBI and compile THE whole story this way: - FBI does catch terrorists with Android phones - FBI never goes into FBI vs Google - We never ask or wonder "why hasn't there been a case like this regarding an android device".... Or, how about this compiled story: - FBI never ever disclosed what theyre doing with terrorist evidence before - FBI looks stupid and weak for not able to force Apple - FBI makes a scene to make them look good - FBI never actually unlocked the device - probably ended up wiping data attempting to unlock it. - FBI saves face! - a year later FBI asking apple to unlock another device... hmmm....

88. willard12 unregistered

Do you say anything truthful? This is getting pretty old. "Next stop was getting a subpoena to Google to get access to Dears’ Google account. The information that the FBI was looking for included the subscriber’s name, address, Social Security number, account login and password; email and personal contact lists on Dears' cell phone" http://www.phonearena.com/news/FBI-blocked-from-searching-pimps-phone-by-Android-pattern-lock_id28063

95. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Boy, them getting into the iPhone with relative ease sure has you foaming at the mouth. The government can get into any phone. Snowden confirmed that.

36. talon95

Posts: 1012; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

On the other hand, if he just used a numerical password then they could easily brute force it in a few minutes, but in all likelihood there's nothing of interest behind such an easy password. I doubt there would be anything anyways. No one uses a work phone for that.

48. AlikMalix unregistered

Read on brute forcing an iOS device, timeout locks, delays, and limits. Then try your post again.

49. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

But, someone just cracked one in a few days tops.

73. AlikMalix unregistered

you dont think that the hacking companies all spent days, weeks, months or years trying to figure out how to bypass or extract data from locked iphones (or android devices for that matter)? You figure out how to do it - then you apply that to terrorist's phone.. Why do you keep pushing this "in one day" "few days tops", specifically knowing that this company volunteered = they had a possible method already worked out... But I still have my doubts - because FBI looked stupid with this case VS apple... and they also never expose details of their doing behind the curtain...

59. talon95

Posts: 1012; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

Yeah, I know that. I've first assumed that they were capable of overcoming the limits to make it more similar to iOS 7 hacking tools. Even if it uses the complex decryption that taxes the processor it won't take all that long if it's just 4 digits. It's still like a day, vs a million years with a secure password.https://youtu.be/JrQYvjfqe-M

33. talon95

Posts: 1012; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

The company that cracked it had been working at it for a long time to be sure. They walked in to the FBI and demonstrated on a different device that they could do it and then it was probably a matter of a single day and they were in. Probably didn't even brute force it, because that could have taken months or years. I assume it was some sort of exploit that they had found, but since Apple doesn't reward anyone with finding bugs, they held onto it and probably got a nice payout from the FBI.

35. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

It was protected with a 4 digit PIN. It would have taken less than a day to brute force it.

39. talon95

Posts: 1012; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

Yeah, i just wrote that. Who uses a number and expects privacy?

40. tedkord

Posts: 17519; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Well, I think iOS mandated a 4 digit PIN as a backup to fingerprint, unless that changed at some point. He had no choice.

44. talon95

Posts: 1012; Member since: Jul 31, 2012

Didn't know that. My Android startup password would take 16 billion years to crack according to the internet. Less with a supercomputer I'm sure, but they'd have to image it to the supercomputer first since the ARM processor isn't going to go nearly fast enough.

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