January 7, 2017 1:51:12 pm
The FBI has released 100 pages of heavily censored documents related to its agreement with a mysterious vendor to hack into an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters. The records were provided in response to a federal lawsuit by The Associated Press, Vice Media and Gannett, the parent company of USA Today.
The media organisations sued to learn how much the FBI paid and whom it hired to break into the phone of Syed Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in December 2015. The FBI censored those details. But the documents make clear that it signed a non-disclosure agreement with the vendor. The records also show FBI received other inquiries from companies interested in developing a product to unlock the phone.
It would have been fairly easy for the FBI to unlock the iPhone 5c by trying all 9999 passcode possibilities, but Farook had activated a function of the smartphone that would erase the phone clean after 10 incorrect attempts.
Apple had resisted FBI’s demand to rewrite codes in the iPhone’s software to override the passcode set up by Farook, to access his data. After Apple declined to help FBI undermine the security features of its products, the investigation agency was able to unlock the device with the help of an unidentified third-party.
Apple CEO, Tim Cook had written a message to the company’s customers back in April explaining the government’s demand and order to help hack the shooter’s iPhone. The order, Cook has said, basically tells engineers who’ve worked to ensure that the device is secure and encrypted, to now weaken those same protections. This, according to Cook, allows FBI a backdoor entry into the iPhone, sets a dangerous precedent, and puts consumer data at risk from hackers and cyber criminals.
If FBI divulges the information on how it was able to access the shooter’s data, Apple will be able to plug the encryption hole with an update. The Cupertino giant saw a major data breach back in 2014, when hackers posted nude photos of Jennifer Lawrence and other celebrities after guessing their passwords and breaking into their Apple iCloud accounts.
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