Apple ID linked to terrorist's iPhone 5c changed while device was in government hands, Apple says [

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2016
In response to a Department of Justice motion to compel Apple's cooperation in the unlocking of an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists, company executives on Friday revealed the Apple ID passcode linked to that device was changed while the handset was in government hands, effectively blocking attempts to retrieve an iCloud backup.




The Apple ID used to sync Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone 5c with Apple's iCloud was modified less than 24 hours after the device was impounded by the government, BuzzFeed News reports.

Apple says the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health, the phone's owner and Farook's former employer, changed the account passcode. A county representative later told Reuters that FBI agents requested the iCloud password reset.

If the passcode was not changed, FBI officials might have been able to procure a backup of the data it is currently attempting to suss out of the phone itself, the company said. The most recent backup was logged six weeks prior to the San Bernardino attack. It is not known whether Farook intentionally shut off iCloud backups or simply ran out of storage space.

Further, Apple has been conducting "regular" discussions with government entities since early January regarding methods by which data from Farook's iPhone 5c may be recovered. According to the report, Apple proposed four different options for data recovery, none of which involved building a software backdoor into iOS.

Apple first discovered that the passcode had been changed in attempting one of the suggested workarounds. The method, seemingly involving the offloading of a backup to iCloud before recovering it from Apple's servers, leveraged an iPhone convenience feature in which the device automatically connects to a known Wi-Fi network. Apple engineers were unable to complete the process due to the updated Apple ID passcode.

The implications of this new development could damage the government's case. The DOJ on Friday filed a motion to force Apple's compliance in aiding the FBI's data extraction efforts, a task that now requires the creation of a software backdoor.

Apple does comply with valid law enforcement data requests, and has in the past handed over information related to criminal investigations gleaned from its servers. The DOJ itself notes prior cooperation in its Friday motion to compel. The company has not, however, been asked to create a forensics tool that would ostensibly break iOS encryption.

The sticky situation could have been avoided if the associated Apple ID passcode was not changed, Apple says.

Apple says the government opened the door to public scrutiny when it filed its motion to compel. The company proposed the FBI officials keep its requests sealed, but the agency decided to seek a court order demanding Apple's cooperation.

Update: Apple executives confirmed San Bernardino county officials changed the passcode. This article has been updated to reflect the new information.

Update 2: San Bernardino county spokesman David Wert informed Reuters that the iCloud password was reset at the request of FBI officials. While the agency did not offer comment on the matter, Apple contends this reset occurred prior consultation.
anantksundaramIanMC2nouser
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 115
    So this was the Apple ID password and not the pin code to unlock the phone? I thought I read somewhere that this guy stop backing up to iCloud well in advance of this attack.
  • Reply 2 of 115
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,684member
    How did they change the Apple ID associated with the phone if the phone was locked?
    cornchipfrankeed
  • Reply 3 of 115
    And the truth shall set you "free" (or possibly get you sent to Federal prison)?

    Government incompetence is equal to incompetence and sloppiness in the general population. Because people are not angels and government is made of people, giving ANY branch of government too much power results in the brutal use of that power for their own benefit.
    edited February 2016 EnglishManradster360redgeminipastevenozpalomineargonautsessamoidicoco3indyfxjbdragon
  • Reply 4 of 115
    "AppleID" and "passcode" used interchangeably. Which is it that was changed?
    cornchip
  • Reply 5 of 115
    volcan said:
    How did they change the Apple ID associated with the phone if the phone was locked?
    appleid.apple.com?
    justbobf
  • Reply 6 of 115
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    The govt probably gave the job to the same people who made the wonderful Obamacare websites, the pinnacle of coding expertise. Real experts in other words.
    tallest skilawilliams87baconstangphotoshop59cornchippscooter63jbdragon
  • Reply 7 of 115
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 3,900member
    volcan said:
    How did they change the Apple ID associated with the phone if the phone was locked?
    From a computer connected to Internet.
    justbobfiosenthusiast
  • Reply 8 of 115
    What a bunch of bs. They don't even know why they don't want to do it. So they say they can't. Right.
  • Reply 9 of 115
    volcan said:
    How did they change the Apple ID associated with the phone if the phone was locked?
    Exactly Apple's case
    photoshop59cornchipfrankeedkibitzerjbdragon
  • Reply 10 of 115
    What a bunch of bs. They don't even know why they don't want to do it. So they say they can't. Right.
    They want to set a legal precedent so in the (near) future they can invade your privacy at will LEGALLY (and in case you forgot the dramatic evidence of Ed Snowden, your privacy is and has been invaded quite thoroughly).
    edited February 2016 anantksundaramtallest skilbaconstangIanMC2nolamacguyjustadcomicsfrankeedEnglishManlostkiwicnocbui
  • Reply 11 of 115
    Huh. Sounds like somebody at the DoJ may have inadvertently bricked the thing.
    photoshop59frankeedbrakkenronnargonautphotography guy
  • Reply 12 of 115
    If Tim is serious about this, he needs to have all hands on deck, but also needs to bring the public up to speed about why the government is really doing this.  They want to backdoor everyone.  PR needs to not sit on their hands on this one.  It's been far too quiet from Apple when they are being smeared by the govt publicly.  Furthermore, I hope this makes him push for even MORE encryption to make it next to impossible for the government to snoop.
    anantksundarambaconstanglostkiwiaaron sorensonnouserpalomineronnargonautrcfa
  • Reply 13 of 115
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 8,360member
    There has never been a govt more against Apple than the current govt.

    The DOJ ebook case against Apple, the way that the Samsung suits have been handled, the monitor that was appointed to monitor Apple and now this iPhone case.
    anantksundaramibillcornchippscooter63lostkiwiradster360nouserpalomineargonautjustbobf
  • Reply 14 of 115
    If Tim is serious about this, he needs to have all hands on deck, but also needs to bring the public up to speed about why the government is really doing this.  They want to backdoor everyone.  PR needs to not sit on their hands on this one.  It's been far too quiet from Apple when they are being smeared by the govt publicly.  Furthermore, I hope this makes him push for even MORE encryption to make it next to impossible for the government to snoop.
    Introducing the Apple iPhone 7, 7+, and 7quantumcrypto, now with even better encryption, with dials "set to 11".
    thewhitefalconEnglishManargonaut
  • Reply 15 of 115
    This was his work phone I think. His own phone was destroyed. His employer probably changed the password to prevent anyone accessing his work information. Apple will have the IP address of the account that logged on to the website to change the Apple ID password.

    why are Apple using the word passcode instead of password? it's like they are trying to confuse us.
    fastasleepstevenoz
  • Reply 16 of 115

    If you have not signed the petition to the White House they need 100,000 signatures by 3/18/16. Here's the link:

    https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/apple-privacy-petition

    ai46baconstangjax44frankeed
  • Reply 17 of 115
    calicali Posts: 3,495member
    fallenjt said:
    volcan said:
    How did they change the Apple ID associated with the phone if the phone was locked?
    From a computer connected to Internet.
    For a second I thought the ID was changed via the iPhone!!
  • Reply 18 of 115
    volcan said:
    How did they change the Apple ID associated with the phone if the phone was locked?
    Most likely through Apple's Mobile Device Management. It was his employer's phone and assigned to him.
    nouser
  • Reply 19 of 115
    The FBI is going to come out of this looking like the Frackin' Bloody Idiots that they are
    baconstangcalicornchiptonesterradster360nouserargonautjustbobf
  • Reply 20 of 115
    volcan said:
    How did they change the Apple ID associated with the phone if the phone was locked?
    The didn't change the Apple ID. They changed the passcode (I will use password from here on) associated with the AppleID probably via appleid.apple.com.
    However, that new password would have to be entered into the iPhone (Settings-iCloud) to have that iPhone activate iCloud backup, else it can't connect.
    Somebody probably thought they would change the password to get at the data in iCloud, found out the data hadn't been backed up in months (or at all), then learned that they couldn't get the iPhone to start auto backup without entering the new AppleID password in settings, and because they didn't know the original password, could not set it back. 
    Now they are stuck with an iPhone that can't back up to iCloud and they can't change to the new password because they don't know the 4-digit PASSCODE to access the iPhone. Thus, because the FBI screwed up, they want Apple to create a software hack to bypass the 'Wipe data after 10 wrong passcode attempts' so they can brute force the device; easier to do with only 4 numeric digits, especially when you have to use 4, not 1, 2 or 3.
    Once the iPhone passcode is broken, then the FBI can enter the NEW AppleID password to get the phone to sync with iCloud, but then it won't be necessary because they can now simply copy everything to a computer.

    In other words, they want Apple to save their butt for doing something they thought was smart, but didn't work, so they try Plan B and Apple balks.
    baconstangtaniwhacornchipchiahydrogenstevenozpalomineargonautjustbobficoco3
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