Apple will attempt data extraction on iPhone of teen lost at sea, report says

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 2016
Apple forensics experts will attempt to extract data from an iPhone 6 used by missing Florida teen Austin Stephanos, who was presumed lost at sea some nine months ago, a lawyer representing the Stephanos family said Friday.




An attorney for William Blu Stephanos, Austin's father, revealed the news during a court hearing regarding how best to preserve Austin's iPhone 6, which was recovered from a small fishing vessel last month, reports NBC News. Apple has yet to confirm its involvement, but reports last week suggested the company was willing to cooperate in data recovery efforts.

Investigators hope the device holds clues concerning the status of Austin and his shipmate Perry Cohen, who went missing during a fishing trip off the coast of Jupiter, Florida, last July. Both were 14 years old at the time.

Experts face a daunting challenge in examining Stephanos' iPhone. The unit was stored in a compartment onboard the boys' small boat, which was recently discovered floating adrift about 100 miles off the coast of Bermuda. Waterlogged and non-operational, the iPhone 6 has been subjected to eight months of exposure to a harsh environment.

"That phone has been submerged in the sea. That phone has to be sent to Apple as soon as possible for preservation," the attorney said.

Last week, officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission confirmed the 19-foot vessel to be the same boat carrying Stephanos and Perry when they went missing. The ship was first located during an initial air and sea search mission last year, but was set adrift before Coast Guard salvage teams were able to tow it ashore. A faulty data buoy was blamed for the mishap.

In the intervening days, the Perry family filed suit against Stephanos and the Florida wildlife commission to keep the iPhone preserved and in government hands, citing potential risk factors involved in invasive data extraction techniques. State investigators released a report suggesting the boys' disappearance could be the result of foul play, but didn't go so far as to conduct a criminal investigation. As such, wildlife officials ultimately returned the phone to the Stephanos family.

Both families have agreed to send the device off to Apple for examination.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 38
    rob53rob53 Posts: 1,974member
    Rather have it go to Apple than the FBI who would use taxpayers money (again) to fund hackers. I doubt the data on the storage will be accessible. If it is, I see it as a plus for Apple's iPhones. The Samsung commercials just show idiots drowning their phones in champagne for a few seconds. Having something in constant contact with salt water for months would eat away at any metal although gold should survive.
  • Reply 2 of 38
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    If the phone was unlocked or if the password is 4 digits, Apple has a chance, otherwise they don't
    they probably need to get the hardware key of this phone to actually be able to get in
    this will undoubtably be costly but at least it's apples choice
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 3 of 38
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,558member
    I like that hook sticker.
    pulseimages
  • Reply 4 of 38
    Rob, there is no shortage of idiots on either side of the apple/android fence. But it is clear apple thinks it is the god of information.
    Their egocentric thinking will hurt society in the long run. Apple had the chance to do the right thing in the San Bernardino shooters case, but chose to help protect (future) terrorists and waste taxpayer money.
    Apple is rich, but misguided by their 'better than thou' behavior.
  • Reply 5 of 38
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    As there was zero on that health department work phone Apple neither "help protect future terrorists" nor did it waste anyone's money: that was the FBI pulling a stunt. 

    Oh and a federal magistrate agreed with Apple. 
    edited April 2016 chasmjax44baconstangration almwhiteredgeminiparobertwalterpalominemacguipulseimages
  • Reply 6 of 38
    chasmchasm Posts: 1,083member
    rockenrock: "there is no shortage of idiots on either side of the Apple/Android fence." Your post certainly illustrates that point well.
    jax44tofinopscooter63anantksundaramration alpropodfotoformatredgeminiparobertwaltertomkarl
  • Reply 7 of 38
    Apparently Apple believes the privacy of dead terrorists is more important than the privacy of dead children.
    kermit4krazysingularity
  • Reply 8 of 38
    rob53 said:
     I doubt the data on the storage will be accessible. If it is, I see it as a plus for Apple's iPhones. The Samsung commercials just show idiots drowning their phones in champagne for a few seconds. Having something in constant contact with salt water for months would eat away at any metal although gold should survive.
     All they need is the memory chip which is embedded in epox (is inert).  It is not just gold that is impervious to salt water.   While a lot of people seem to think that there is little chance of recovering the data, they actually need very little of the phone to access the memory.    They have a fair chance.
    As far as the Samsung commercial just showing the "champagne for a few seconds"   -- that's just a commercial.    The phone can withstand more than just a few seconds of immersion.    The S7 has an IP68 rating that means in regards to liquids:    The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are built to do more, in more places. With an IP68 rating, they’re water resistant to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes, and are protected from dust, dirt and sand - all without the need for extra caps or covers.

    Keep in mind the 30 minutes is for a depth and pressure of being almost 5 feet deep in water.   At lessor depths the time  that it can withstand water invasion is increased due to the decreased water pressure. 
  • Reply 9 of 38

    I like that hook sticker.
    what's crazy is that if you look closely, rusting fish hooks made a very similar design on the phone!
  • Reply 10 of 38
    I'm sure I'll get berated and belittled for this, but it does seem ironic that Apple has agreed to help in this regard but now routinely refuses requests to aid law enforcement. 
    singularity
  • Reply 11 of 38
    I'm sure I'll get berated and belittled for this, but it does seem ironic that Apple has agreed to help in this regard but now routinely refuses requests to aid law enforcement. 
    It's not crazy unless we find out that Apple have to break their own encryption to get at the data and then they willing do it. 
    baconstangrobertwalterewtheckmanjony0
  • Reply 12 of 38
    I'm sure I'll get berated and belittled for this, but it does seem ironic that Apple has agreed to help in this regard but now routinely refuses requests to aid law enforcement. 
    I think you only be advised, not "berated or belittled " for not understanding the fundamental differences in the two situations, and the issue of "precedence" in legal terms.
    baconstangration almwhiterobertwalternolamacguySio2gajony0
  • Reply 13 of 38
    rockenrock:  ... there is no shortage of idiots on either side of the apple/android fence. But it is clear apple thinks it is the god of information.

    Well, with that gem you certainly cancelled many iOS idiots.  Better Apple thinks they're a god of information than spigot of FUD.
    Rayz2016
  • Reply 14 of 38
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Rob, there is no shortage of idiots on either side of the apple/android fence. But it is clear apple thinks it is the god of information.
    Their egocentric thinking will hurt society in the long run. Apple had the chance to do the right thing in the San Bernardino shooters case, but chose to help protect (future) terrorists and waste taxpayer money.
    Apple is rich, but misguided by their 'better than thou' behavior.
    WTF are even talking about bozo.
    Not knowing what the hell you're talking about is not endearing.
    robertwalter
  • Reply 15 of 38
    ksecksec Posts: 1,543member
    I continue to think Apple should have a Time Capsule that does iOS backup.
    robertwalterjony0
  • Reply 16 of 38
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    Sio2ga said:
    rob53 said:
     I doubt the data on the storage will be accessible. If it is, I see it as a plus for Apple's iPhones. The Samsung commercials just show idiots drowning their phones in champagne for a few seconds. Having something in constant contact with salt water for months would eat away at any metal although gold should survive.
     All they need is the memory chip which is embedded in epox (is inert).  It is not just gold that is impervious to salt water.   While a lot of people seem to think that there is little chance of recovering the data, they actually need very little of the phone to access the memory.    They have a fair chance.
    As far as the Samsung commercial just showing the "champagne for a few seconds"   -- that's just a commercial.    The phone can withstand more than just a few seconds of immersion.    The S7 has an IP68 rating that means in regards to liquids:    The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge are built to do more, in more places. With an IP68 rating, they’re water resistant to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes, and are protected from dust, dirt and sand - all without the need for extra caps or covers.

    Keep in mind the 30 minutes is for a depth and pressure of being almost 5 feet deep in water.   At lessor depths the time  that it can withstand water invasion is increased due to the decreased water pressure. 
    6s is not rated for 30 minutes but seemingly does it anyway; many doufus tried it already,
    Just like the Apple watch is IPX7 but I know many people who swim with it for more than 6 months and seemingly the majority use it in the shower.

    Recovering the data is a bit useless if they can't decrypt it.
    To decrypt they need the hardware key (on device but they could recover it with much money) and well the Pass code.
    Damage to the data could make decrypting it even more of a bitch.
    If the pass code is an alphanumeric 8 character long, it is hopeless.
    With Touch ID, people can but much longer passcodes (because they don't have to type them in 40 times a day), which means the odds of them having a long one increases a lot.
    Hopefully they unlocked the phone and weren't just swept overboard.
    edited April 2016
  • Reply 17 of 38
    Wombat66 said:
    Apparently Apple believes the privacy of dead terrorists is more important than the privacy of dead children.
    You're forgetting that the FBI wanted Apple to create software for them to use in the future. Here, Apple is apparently going to have the device in their hands, and then use their own software/tools without releasing it to a government agency afterwards.
    mwhitenolamacguybaconstangstevehRayz2016
  • Reply 18 of 38
    Wombat66 said:
    Apparently Apple believes the privacy of dead terrorists is more important than the privacy of dead children.
    You're forgetting that the FBI wanted Apple to create software for them to use in the future. Here, Apple is apparently going to have the device in their hands, and then use their own software/tools without releasing it to a government agency afterwards.
    Apple could have just as easily offered to do a similar one off with the dead terrorist's iPhone but they chose not to. Why?
  • Reply 19 of 38
    Wombat66 said:
    Apple could have just as easily offered to do a similar one off with the dead terrorist's iPhone but they chose not to. Why?
    Because the FBI vacated the court order to comply with the All Writs Act.....that was the Fed's decision, not Apple's.
    A better question is: why did the FBI change the iCloud password?

    BTW, the iPhone was a work phone belonging to San Bernadino County,  not Farook's personal iPhone....big difference. 
  • Reply 20 of 38
    davidwdavidw Posts: 938member
    Wombat66 said:
    You're forgetting that the FBI wanted Apple to create software for them to use in the future. Here, Apple is apparently going to have the device in their hands, and then use their own software/tools without releasing it to a government agency afterwards.
    Apple could have just as easily offered to do a similar one off with the dead terrorist's iPhone but they chose not to. Why?


    You and others like you, still don't get it and probably never will. 

    Because no way is this going to set a court precedent that can be used against them, every time some law enforcement agency needs Apple to hack into an iPhone. A court precedent that could be used against nearly all tech companies.  And with the terrorist iPhone, the FBI, wanted Apple to write special software to allow them to break the encryption and then hand over the software to them. Software that might be able to hack into all iPhones if in the wrong hands. 

    Where in this case have you read that Apple will go as far as to write special software to hack into their own iPhone or encryption? Right now, Apple is only helping to see if they can recover the data. If it is passcode protected, then that may be as far as Apple will go. But it may not be passcode protected or maybe a family member may know the passcode. Plus there a good chance that some dumb idiot did not (or will not) change a password and Apple may be able to force a backup of the data into their server. Where it will no longer encrypted. Something they were willing to do with the terrorist iPhone, if it weren't for a dumb idiot. 

    And have you read anywhere, that if Apple were able to recover the data from this iPhone, that the family is demanding Apple to hand over or reveal the method they used? 
    edited April 2016 nolamacguyyoyo2222baconstangewtheckmanjony0
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