Security FBI ends legal battle with Apple after breaking into iPhone 5c

Scorpus

TechSpot Staff
Staff member

The FBI no longer requires the assistance of Apple to break into the San Bernardino iPhone, as the organization today confirmed that they've broken into it without their help.

A filing from government prosecutors to the courts today didn't provide any information on how the FBI managed to break into the iPhone 5c in question, but it did say that they have "successfully accessed the data stored on [San Bernardino killer Syed Rizwan] Farook's iPhone". As such, the FBI has withdrawn the order that compelled Apple to assist with unlocking the iPhone.

This news comes after the FBI stated last week that they may have found a way into the iPhone 5c thanks to the help of an "outside party". That outside party was reportedly Isreali mobile forensics company Cellebrite, which supposedly has a device that can analyze and extract the data from a range of smartphones.

Even if Cellebrite was responsible for breaking into the San Bernardino iPhone, it's still not clear exactly how they managed to do it. The most likely explanation is that there is some sort of exploitable zero-day flaw in the version of iOS running on the iPhone 5c, which gave the FBI a pathway around the lock screen and encryption on the device.

Now that the FBI has managed to break into the iPhone in question, the controversial court battle with Apple that begun in February has come to a close without any dangerous precedents being set. This mightn't have been exactly what the FBI was after, but they've nevertheless been able to access the data they so desperately wanted.

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ikesmasher

TS Evangelist
Are we not going to make the FBI pass that onto apple so they can accordingly adjust the security...?
I mean I know the obvious reasons why the FBI wouldn't, it just seems like something that would get a lot of public attention...
 

psycros

TS Evangelist
Are we not going to make the FBI pass that onto apple so they can accordingly adjust the security...?
I mean I know the obvious reasons why the FBI wouldn't, it just seems like something that would get a lot of public attention...
They've already put a "top secret" label on this info. That's right - your government is actively trying to hack ALL your data while keeping you as vulnerable as possible. The apologists have no argument left now that the US had admitted its an Orwellian state. All the spooks have done is ensure more and more people will adopt no-log communications and heavier encryption. The terrorists will be untraceable now unless servers can be compromised, thanks to the government's insane public pressuring of Apple.
 
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SuperVeloce

TS Booster
There was no question FBI will be able to hack the device and then "download" and brute-force the data in question. What was actually the problem is FBI wanting the way to hack it instantly without needing to spend money and man hours. And that what makes all the difference. Hacking one phone with throwing money, time and best programmers at the problem OR having software that will leak into the wild and basically allow for me, you, your employer or your business competitor to hack your phone on the fly
 
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Satish Mallya

TechSpot Staff
Staff
Nand mirroring. Multiple attempts.
Security enclave renders that impossible.

If the only encryption was the pin, then yes, but the enclave generates a cryptographically secure key and then only decrpts when the pin is correctly entered. Or erases the phone after 'x' bad attempts.
 

IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
I don't see how this is an accomplishment for the FBI... What happens when they want to do this again? Forget fighting on principle (whether you agree with it or not), once we have what we want we will shut up? Sounds like the whiny *** kid in the grocery store that throws a tantrum until it gets the candy it wants.

Now I want to know, was the info they got off the phone of any use?
 

Skidmarksdeluxe

TS Evangelist
Much ado about nothing but I'm glad they've cracked the device. The password was probably "Allah" anyway. That chump never struck me as someone being higher up the IQ tree, they never are. Their masters don't need them to think for themselves, just believe all their horse manure and obey their command.
 
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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Nand mirroring. Multiple attempts.
Security enclave renders that impossible.

If the only encryption was the pin, then yes, but the enclave generates a cryptographically secure key and then only decrpts when the pin is correctly entered. Or erases the phone after 'x' bad attempts.
iPhone 5c doesn't have security enclave though - so that's almost certainly how it was done... And why Apple isn't too concerned as it won't work on their newer phones.
 

N.Taylor

TS Rookie
Apple should be prosecuted for obstructing justice / invstigation, that phone may have held information
that could save lives. A commercial enterprise is not above the law. It's a phone for goodness sake they are for making calls.
 
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Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
Apple should be prosecuted for obstructing justice / invstigation, that phone may have held information
that could save lives. A commercial enterprise is not above the law. It's a phone for goodness sake they are for making calls.
Think about the legal precedent.... Not to mention once Apple creates custom software to crack an iPhone, it WILL get out to the public eventually... Which means everyone's data would be at risk.

Apple had already told the FBI they would be happy to assist - but some m0r0n at the FBI changed the iTunes password, making "legal" methods of recovering the data impossible.

Also, the owner of the phone in question is already dead - the odds of anything on it "saving lives" is pretty slim.... Of course, we'll never know as I doubt the FBI will be letting us know what's on it...
 
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Tosikko

TS Booster
I wonder if they found the "cyber pathogen" the DA thought the phone would hold.
Apple should be prosecuted for obstructing justice / invstigation, that phone may have held information
that could save lives. A commercial enterprise is not above the law. It's a phone for goodness sake they are for making calls.
Apple didn't obstruct justice.

Everybody won this way.
 
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bea108

TS Booster
Are we not going to make the FBI pass that onto apple so they can accordingly adjust the security...?
I mean I know the obvious reasons why the FBI wouldn't, it just seems like something that would get a lot of public attention...
Probably not without another court fight. Interesting now the shoe's on the other foot.
 

lazer

TS Addict
What really bothers me is that the FBI needed to know who did these terrorists speak to, who helped them, and who were their 'handlers'. This is to prevent another terror attack.

The court ordered Apple to open the phone because of the above and Apple refused the court order. The FBI fumbled and finally got some Israeli firm to crack it but by now the 'handlers', those who aided these terrorists and their suppliers were able to abscond - all because of Apple.

I don't believe that the court should drop the case. I believe that Apple deserves to be punished and I believe that we Americans need to be protected from terror infrastructures hiding behind Apple's refusal to help American security.
 

Squid Surprise

TS Evangelist
What really bothers me is that the FBI needed to know who did these terrorists speak to, who helped them, and who were their 'handlers'. This is to prevent another terror attack.

The court ordered Apple to open the phone because of the above and Apple refused the court order. The FBI fumbled and finally got some Israeli firm to crack it but by now the 'handlers', those who aided these terrorists and their suppliers were able to abscond - all because of Apple.

I don't believe that the court should drop the case. I believe that Apple deserves to be punished and I believe that we Americans need to be protected from terror infrastructures hiding behind Apple's refusal to help American security.
The fact that the FBI DID drop the case shows that they don't have a leg to stand on... They had no idea what was on that phone, and proving that getting the info ASAP would save lives is impossible...

We're talking about an iPhone 5c by the way - which had been out for a fairly long time - and if the FBI was even halfway competent, they'd have KNOWN how to get the info off of it without involving Apple at all.

It's pretty apparent that the only reason this went to court was so they could get the legal precedent... Kudos to Apple for standing their ground...
 

CLASYS

TS Rookie
Good. Glad they broke into it. If it results in good intel, then even better.
What I read was they did not. They just found some [presumably hackers] who did it, thus all theories about prior ability are wild speculation. Apple has a marketing problem now. Some bought it as "unbreakable" and their early attitude was to lie and claim it couldn't be broken into. Then the rest of this pitch about "rights" instead when it became clear that is "hard" but not impossible. This is marketing damage control, don't elevate marketroids into heroes. Like everything else, somebody found a more "natural" back door that was already there, no need to ask for another one. I'm glad because it makes Apple out to be the hypocrites they actually are.

And they want the government to further reveal exactly what the mechanism is that was exploited? I say let them pay for it. After all, had they and the hackers gotten together to fix it, Apple would have paid. Why is this any different? The false premise of "perfect" code that was pitched is just a fairy tale. I hope more Android phones are sold to disillusioned former Apple buyers. If it isn't "perfect" for the purpose of hiding their naked selfies they took while drunk, they might as well spend less to do it all over again. Free enterprise is the winner here.