Published;Sunday February 21, 2016 9:52 pm PST
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has confirmed that it worked with San Bernardino County government officials to reset the iCloud account password on an iPhone belonging to suspected terrorist Syed Farook, according to a press statemencot obtained by Re/code.
Apple told reporters on Friday that the Apple ID password associated with Farook’s iPhone was changed “less than 24 hours” after being in government hands. Had the password not been altered, Apple believes the backup information the government is asking for could have been accessible to Apple engineers.
Nevertheless, the FBI insists that the iCloud password reset does not impact Apple’s ability to comply with a court order demanding it create a modified iOS version that allows authorities to unlock the shooter’s iPhone 5c by way of a brute-force attack.
The FBI further stated that “direct data extraction from an iOS device often provides more data than an iCloud backup contains,” and said investigators may be able to extract more evidence from the shooter’s iPhone with Apple’s assistance. Tim Cook and company, however, have thus far refused to cooperate.Even if the password had not been changed and Apple could have turned on the auto-backup and loaded it to the cloud, there might be information on the phone that would not be accessible without Apple’s assistance as required by the All Writs Act order, since the iCloud backup does not contain everything on an iPhone. As the government’s pleadings state, the government’s objective was, and still is, to extract as much evidence as possible from the phone.Cook shared an open letter on Wednesday stating that while Apple is “shocked and outraged” by the San Bernardino attacks last December, and presumes “the FBI’s intentions are good,” the company strongly believes that building a “backdoor” for U.S. government officials would be “too dangerous to create.”
The White House later denied that the FBI is asking Apple to “create a new backdoor to its products,” but rather seeking access to a single iPhone. On Friday, the U.S. Department of Justice called Apple’s opposition a “marketing strategy” in a motion filed to compel Apple to comply with the original court order.
The dispute between Apple and the FBI has ignited a widespread debate over the past six days. Google, Facebook, and Twitter have publicly backed Apple, and some campaigners have rallied to support the company, while U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump and some San Bernardino victims have sided with the FBI.
Apple now has until February 26 to file its first legal arguments against the court order.
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