FBI breaks into iPhone of dead San Bernadino shooter

2016-03-29 13:33
(Glenn Chapman, AFP)

(Glenn Chapman, AFP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

The FBI says it has successfully used a technique without Apple's help to hack into the iPhone used by a gunman in a mass shooting in California.

Monday’s announcement effectively ended a pitched court battle between the Obama administration and one of the world's leading technology companies.

The government asked a federal judge to vacate a disputed order forcing Apple to help the FBI break into the iPhone, saying it was no longer necessary.

The court filing in US District Court for the Central District of California provided no details about how the FBI did it or who showed it how.

The FBI is reviewing the information on the iPhone, the Justice Department said in a statement.

The case drew international attention and highlighted a growing friction between government authorities and the tech industry.

Questions of data security

Apple and other tech companies have said they feel increasing need to protect their customers' data from hackers and unfriendly intruders. But the police and other government authorities have warned that encryption and other data-protection measures are making it more difficult for investigators to track criminals and dangerous extremists.

"From the beginning, we objected to the FBI's demand that Apple build a back door into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent," Apple said in a statement.

"As a result of the government's dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought."

The brief court notice left important questions unanswered: Who showed the FBI how to break into iPhones? How did the government bypass the security features that Apple has invested millions of dollars to build into its flagship product? Are newer iPhones vulnerable to the same hacking technique?

"With this vulnerability in existence, people that have similar version of iPhone are at risk of attacks from malicious people that could use the same vulnerability," Drew Mitnick, a Policy Counsel at Access Now, told Al Jazeera.

"[Following the hacking], there is at least a moral obligation on behalf of the FBI to close the vulnerability."

The surprise development also punctured the temporary perception that Apple's security might have been good enough to keep consumers' personal information safe even from the US government - with the tremendous resources it can expend when it wants to uncover something.

Privacy rights

The FBI used the technique to access data on an iPhone used by gunman Syed Farook, who died with his wife in a gun battle with police after they killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December.

The iPhone, a work phone issued to Farook by his employer, the county health department, was found in a vehicle the day after the shooting; two personal phones were found destroyed so completely that the FBI couldn't recover information from them.

US magistrate Sheri Pym of California last month ordered Apple to provide the FBI with software to help it hack into Farook's work-issued iPhone.

The order touched off a debate pitting digital privacy rights against national security concerns.

"People often have a sense that they are being surveilled by the government and it tends to limit their ability to express themselves," Mitnick added.

"The mere possibility that the government is surveilling is a limitation on freedom of expression."

Read more on:    apple  |  us  |  security

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.