FBI Pensacola investigation still hasn't accessed shooter's iPhone

Posted:
in iPhone edited February 2020
The Federal Bureau Investigation into the Pensacola shooting is still unable to access encrypted data on a suspect's iPhone, Director Christoper Wray has admitted, with no progress made on acquiring data from the device.

The FBI headquarters: The J. Edgar Hoover Building
The FBI headquarters: The J. Edgar Hoover Building


Appearing at a House Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday, FBI Director Wray confirmed the lack of success in gaining access to any of the encrypted data held on the reconstructed iPhone. The smartphone in question is important to the investigation, as it belonged to the shooter behind the Naval Air Station attack in Pensacola, Florida in December.

Answering queries from Republican Matt Gaetz of Florida, Bloomberg reports Wray said the FBI is "currently engaged with Apple hoping to see if we can get better help from them so we can get access to that phone."

The FBI formally asked Apple to help it unlock a pair of iPhones in December, before asking again in January. An extra request was also made by US Attorney General William Barr, who also accused Apple of having provided no "substantive assistance" to the investigation.

On January 13, Apple denied the requests, while also rebutted Barr's comments. "We reject the characterization that Apple has not provided substantive assistance in the Pensacola investigation," Apple said. "Our responses to their many requests since the attack have been timely, thorough, and are ongoing."

At the time, Apple also confirmed it had provided a trove of data it had for the shooter and related accounts, including iCloud backups, account information, and "transactional data." Apple regularly agrees to legitimate requests from law enforcement, such as warrants, requests, and national security letters,

Apple does however stop short of breaking the encryption of its hardware and software for the purposes of law enforcement, as data on a locked device cannot be accepted without using the correct passcode or password.

The affair brings up the ongoing encryption debate once more, where government officials and law enforcement demand access to encrypted data via backdoors, while critics and tech companies fight back due to the potential weakening of encryption as a whole. Barr's comments are also thought to have caused concern among some FBI officials, who worry the statements may be harming existing relationships with the firms involved.

While Apple's engineers are theoretically capable of breaking into a locked iPhone using custom software, effectively creating a backdoor, the company believes this would set a dangerous precedent and would put all customers at risk of privacy violations. Apple argues there is "no such thing as a backdoor just for good guys," as they can just as easily be exploited by bad actors.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 13
    Given FBI has so many tools they had used in the past. Not to mention they can get help from NSA. I highly doubt they can’t access the phone. It is more like they makeup an excuse to make apple to build a back foot in the iOS. 

    Also, if I am going to commit such horrible crime, I will surely wipe my phone before doing it. 
    lkruppjony0watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 13
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,502member
    Looks like $10 million well spent for the lab in NYC then.
    lkruppmagman1979watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 13
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 5,820member
    I just don't get this.  If it were important papers in a hardened safe, the government would never ask the safe manufacturer to design a back-door.  They'd just throw every piece of heavy machinery at it in order to break in.  This is no different.  Give one access - even with good intentions - and that means everyone has access.

    Last time I checked, the folks that orchestrated the 9/11 attacks had no smartphones, no encryption, no nothing and yet, multiple failures and inaction allowed the attack to happen.  Suddenly this is now an issue?
    mike1magman1979StrangeDaysjony0dewmewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 13
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 9,633member
    The FBI is lying pure and simple. Sad we can no longer trust our government’s security organizations. They’ve lied, hidden, obfuscated, edited, redacted, destroyed, misdirected the American people, all in the name of national security, for a hundred years now. Now we refuse to believe anything they say or print.
    magman1979williamlondonwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 13
    sflocal said:
    I just don't get this.  If it were important papers in a hardened safe, the government would never ask the safe manufacturer to design a back-door.  They'd just throw every piece of heavy machinery at it in order to break in.  This is no different.  Give one access - even with good intentions - and that means everyone has access.

    Last time I checked, the folks that orchestrated the 9/11 attacks had no smartphones, no encryption, no nothing and yet, multiple failures and inaction allowed the attack to happen.  Suddenly this is now an issue?
    It’s called lazy investigating. They want the tech companies to hand over all of the information instead of building their own toolbox to help them unlock and access the device. 

    More than likely, the shooter used whatsapp for communication to others since that is the preferred messaging app for many in the Middle East. If that is the case, now the FBI has to deal with encrypted WhatsApp conversations. Who will be the scapegoat for that? Apple again?

    the NSA and CIA have ties with the creator of Pegasus, which is an Israeli company called NSO Group. They could try to unlock the device, but IMHO I don’t think these groups of government agencies work with each other liked they pledged to do after 9/11. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 13
    The FBI lacks credibility.  They’ve become a political tool.  

    The FBI was once one of the most trusted institutions...they’ve fallen so far in the last 20 years.

    I remember watching America's Most Wanted and believing they were the pinnacle of law enforcement...


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 13

    While Apple's engineers are theoretically capable of breaking into a locked iPhone using custom software


    This statement is misleading at best, or downright inaccurate. Apple’s engineers. Annoy break in to a phone that us already been encrypted. They. Oils build a back foot for future phones, but not for this one. Their hands are as tied as the FBI’s.  

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 13
    apple ][apple ][ Posts: 9,233member
    The FBI is not credible and I don't believe what they claim anymore.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 13
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,319administrator

    While Apple's engineers are theoretically capable of breaking into a locked iPhone using custom software


    This statement is misleading at best, or downright inaccurate. Apple’s engineers. Annoy break in to a phone that us already been encrypted. They. Oils build a back foot for future phones, but not for this one. Their hands are as tied as the FBI’s.  

    Assuming I'm interpreting the word salad correctly, Apple has literally said that they can do this, but won't.
    edited February 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 13
    I wonder if the iPhone that the FBI is trying to break into is the one that the shooter shot up. It would seem that even if could boot up to the login screen, it's behavior would be hard to predict. Maybe the Secure Enclave was compromised when he shot it up. The other iPhone should not have presented a problem, if I remember the original story. Also, if I remember correctly, the FBI wants to get the phone up so they can access WhatsApp with the shooter's credentials. If the shooter felt he had to shoot up a phone, I would think it would be the one that had the keys to the kingdom.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 13
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,946member
    lkrupp said:
    The FBI is lying pure and simple. Sad we can no longer trust our government’s security organizations. They’ve lied, hidden, obfuscated, edited, redacted, destroyed, misdirected the American people, all in the name of national security, for a hundred years now. Now we refuse to believe anything they say or print.
    Evidence?
    williamlondon
  • Reply 12 of 13
    jcs2305jcs2305 Posts: 1,223member
    viclauyyc said:
    Given FBI has so many tools they had used in the past. Not to mention they can get help from NSA. I highly doubt they can’t access the phone. It is more like they makeup an excuse to make apple to build a back foot in the iOS. 

    Also, if I am going to commit such horrible crime, I will surely wipe my phone before doing it. 

    Or use a disposable prepay ( Burner )  phones because people, even terrorists and criminals realize smartphones hold way to much information.



    People aren't complete idiots all the time and with all the news coverage will stop, or have stopped,using iPhone or smart phones in general for criminal discussions.


    edited February 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 13
    I wonder if the iPhone that the FBI is trying to break into is the one that the shooter shot up. It would seem that even if could boot up to the login screen, it's behavior would be hard to predict. Maybe the Secure Enclave was compromised when he shot it up. The other iPhone should not have presented a problem, if I remember the original story. Also, if I remember correctly, the FBI wants to get the phone up so they can access WhatsApp with the shooter's credentials. If the shooter felt he had to shoot up a phone, I would think it would be the one that had the keys to the kingdom.
    Or there’s nothing on it and he wanted to give the FBI a final middle finger
    watto_cobra
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