Sunday April 22, 2018
Home Business US drops char...

US drops charges against Apple after FBI successsfully hacks terrorist’s iPhone

0
//
83
Apple
Photo: pixabay.com

Washington: After successfully hacking into a terrorist’s encrypted Apple iPhone who was involved in San Bernardino, California shooting, the US Department of Justice has withdrawn legal action against the tech giant.

According to the media reports, a third party helped the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to crack the security function without erasing contents of the iPhone used by Syed Farook.

Farook, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik, planned and executed the December 2, 2015 shooting that left 14 people killed.

“This case should never have been brought. We will continue to help law enforcement with their investigations, as we have done all along, and we will continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated,” Apple said in a statement on Monday.

“This case raised issues which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy,” the statement said.

Recently, Apple CEO Tim Cook, referring to the ongoing battle with the US government over encryption to unlock an iPhone, reiterated the company’s commitment to protect its users’ data and privacy.

Addressing a packed auditorium at its Cupertino, California-based headquarters, Cook said: “We have a responsibility to help you protect your data and your privacy. We will not shrink from this responsibility.”

“We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and for many of us it is a deeply personal device,” he told the gathering during a special launch event this month.

On Monday, the federal government department, on behalf of the FBI, made the move at a US court in Central California, Xinhua reported.

The two-page court filing said that the FBI had accessed data stored on the iPhone 5c.

A week ago, a day before the DOJ and the Silicon Valley technology company were scheduled to appear at a hearing at the court, the government said it was trying a new way to unlock the phone used by Farook.

The smartphone has a feature that erases data after 10 unsuccessful unlocking attempts.

Successfully bypassing Apple in its efforts to look into the phone for information probably helpful in the terror attack investigation, the DOJ did not make public on Monday any details about who did help and how did it make through.

Apple had been resisting the order by Judge Pym since February 16, when she ordered the manufacturer to provide the FBI with specialised software to disable the security feature.

In an earlier TV interview, citing privacy protection for customers as a reason, Cook suggested that he would fight the case all the way up the US Supreme Court.

The argument was heated, as the government side fought on the ground that it was a work phone owned by the San Bernardino county, and the software would be in the possession of Apple rather than in the hands of FBI agents.

Both sides seemed to have failed to win full public support.

However, the DOJ’s decision not to go after Apple’s assistance effectively put the dispute to an end, at least for now.

And it is now Apple’s turn to figure out, and for iPhone users to wonder, how secure is the phone and data on the device.

Next Story

Watchdog: FBI Could Have Tried Harder to Hack iPhone

0
//
19
iphone
The Apple iPhone 7 is displayed at an Apple store at the Grove in Los Angeles, California, Sept. 16, 2016. VOA

FBI officials could have tried harder to unlock an iPhone as part of a terrorism investigation before launching an extraordinary court fight with Apple Inc. in an effort to force it to break open the device, the Justice Department’s watchdog said Tuesday.

The department’s inspector general said it found no evidence the FBI was able to access data on the phone belonging to one of the gunmen in a 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, as then-FBI Director James Comey told Congress more than once. But communications failures among FBI officials delayed the search for a solution. The FBI unit tasked with breaking into mobile devices only sought outside help to unlock the phone the day before the Justice Department filed a court brief demanding Apple’s help, the inspector general found.

The finding could hurt future Justice Department efforts to force technology companies to help the government break into encrypted phones and computers.

ALSO READ: Do you know the iPhone X screen repair cost in India?

iphone
FBI Director Christopher Wray speaks at the 2018 Boston Conference on Cybersecurity at Boston College, in Boston, Massachusetts, March 7, 2018. VOA

The intense public debate surrounding the FBI’s legal fight with Apple largely faded after federal authorities announced they were able to access the phone in the San Bernardino attack without the help of the technology giant. But Trump administration officials have indicated a renewed interest in legislation that would address the problem, with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray publicly discussing their frequent frustration with encrypted devices. Congress could be less inclined to act on the problem — known as “going dark” — if there is an indication it may not be necessary.

Even after an outside vendor demonstrated it could successfully hack the phone, FBI officials disagreed over whether it should be used, in part because it would make the legal battle with Apple unnecessary. Some FBI officials thought they had found the precedent-setting case to convince Americans there should be no encryption that can’t be defeated or accessed with a warrant.

iphone
FBI Executive Assistant Director for Science and Technology Amy Hess, testifies in Washington, April 19, 2016, before a House subcommittee hearing on deciphering the debate over encryption. VOA

ALSO READ: Apple X Factor: China Consumers Wowed by New iPhone, But Will They Buy?

Amy Hess, who then oversaw the FBI’s science and technology division, told the inspector general’s office she was concerned that other officials did not seem to want to find a technical solution, or perhaps even knew of one, but remained silent in order to beat Apple in court.

The inspector general found no one withheld knowledge of an existing FBI capability, but failed to pursue all avenues in search for a solution. An FBI unit chief knew that an outside vendor had almost 90 percent completed a technique that would have allowed it to break into the phone, the report said, even as the Justice Department insisted that forcing Apple’s help was the only option.

Apple fought back, triggering a courtroom showdown that revived the debate over the balance of digital privacy rights and national security. Apple had argued that helping the FBI hack the iPhone would set a dangerous precedent, making all iPhone users vulnerable, and argued that Congress should take up the issue.

Apple declined to comment Tuesday. The FBI did not immediately return calls, but said in a letter to the inspector general that it agreed it with the findings and recommendations for improved communication. The report says the FBI is adding a new section to address the “going dark” problem and boost coordination among units that work on computers and mobile devices.

iphone
Former FBI Director James Comey smiles during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, in Washington, June 8, 2017. VOA

ALSO READ: Apple fans finding iPhone X ‘too expensive’ for upgrade

Law enforcement officials have long warned that encryption and other data-protection measures are making it more difficult for investigators to track criminals and dangerous extremists. Wray said late last year that agents have been unable to retrieve data from half the mobile devices — nearly 7,000 phones, computers and tablets — that they tried to access in less than a year.

Yet Congress has shown little appetite for legislation that would force tech companies to give law enforcement easier access.

The issue also troubled Wray’s predecessor, Comey, who frequently spoke about the bureau’s inability to access digital devices. But the Obama White House never publicly supported legislation that would have forced technology companies to give the FBI a back door to encrypted information, leaving Comey’s hands tied to propose a specific legislative fix. VOA