FBI agrees to help crack iPhone 6 and iPod tied to Arkansas murder trial, but method unknown

Posted:
in General Discussion edited March 2016
The Federal Bureau of Investigation on Wednesday agreed to assist prosecutors in unlocking an iPhone 6 and iPod linked to an Arkansas murder trial, but whether the agency is is leveraging its newfound iPhone exploit is unclear. in cases beyond San Bernardino.




According to Arkansas prosecuting attorney Cody Hiland, the FBI's Little Rock field office offered to lend a hand in accessing two Apple devices owned by two suspects on trial for the double homicide of Robert and Patricia Cogdell, reports the Los Angeles Times.

The agreement comes just two days after the Department of Justice announced it successfully extracted data from an iPhone 5c used by San Bernardino terror suspect Syed Rizwan Farook. Federal prosecutors consequently withdrew a motion to compel Apple's assistance in unlocking Farook's phone. Apple was resisting the court order, saying at the time it was unwilling to create a software workaround as it would weaken the security of millions of iOS devices around the world.

It is unclear if the FBI plans to apply the same exploit in the Arkansas case. The target iPhone is two generations removed from Farook's iPhone 5c, meaning it not only came stock with iOS 8, but also contains hardware protection in a secure enclave embedded into the A8 processor.

Also unknown is the operating system version running on each of the target devices. Apple introduced iPhone 6 alongside iOS 8, one of the first versions to feature end-to-end encryption. The iPod model was not immediately made public, but is presumably an iPod touch running some iteration of iOS.

"The iPod had just come into our possession a couple of weeks ago," Hiland said. "Obviously when we heard that [the FBI] had been able to crack that phone we wanted to at least ask and see if they wanted to help."

Prosecutors on Tuesday requested trial proceedings be delayed as they sought FBI assistance. That same day, Deputy Prosecutor Hugh Finkelstein told the Associated Press that murder suspect Justin Staton had used the iPod to discuss the homicide. Finkelstein believes there might be more evidence on the device.

Technical limitations aside, the FBI likely wants to protect its hard-won iPhone exploit from going public. That the agency would apply the workaround to find justice in an Arkansas murder case seems suspect.

An official, who spoke with the L.A. Times under conditions of anonymity, said the FBI was unlikely to use the San Bernardino forensics tool in a case resulting in criminal prosecutions because it would then be open to discovery at trial. Once made public, the vulnerability would likely be patched by Apple, making it much less valuable to law enforcement agencies.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 39
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    If I didn't know better, I'd say the FBI (F*cking Bloody Idiots) were attempting a little bad PR payback against Apple by frequently referring to (now) being able access their devices.
    jony0calimejsricnolamacguystevehmagman1979nostrathomas
  • Reply 2 of 39
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    Lets see if unlocking that 5c ends world hunger.
    [edit: this is a bad joke. The FBI made a huge deal about Farook's work phone like unlocking it would bring world peace or something]

    Apple should have every right to know how the FBI pulled data from their products and IP.

    If the FBI isn't bluffing and refuse to tell Apple how they exploited the OS, Apple can tighten security even more and when the FBI asks how they can get in tell them "we won't tell you".
    edited March 2016 baconstangdigital_guyjony0redraider11nolamacguysteveh
  • Reply 3 of 39
    revenantrevenant Posts: 621member
    well, at least it is not setting the precedent- it was just one phone. oh, or not.
    jony0calilostkiwislprescottmagman1979
  • Reply 4 of 39
    CMA102DLCMA102DL Posts: 121member
    well it seems like the FBI is finally building some capabilities that we come to expect from the FBI. This is a good thing. Harassing Apple was a boneheaded move.
    edited March 2016 spacekidbraderunner
  • Reply 5 of 39
    The FBI is likely playing silly mind games, and themedia just seems to be lapping it up with zero serious questioning or skepticism. 
    digital_guyjony0designrfotoformatcalimejsriclostkiwigtrnolamacguyicoco3
  • Reply 6 of 39
    steven n.steven n. Posts: 1,229member
    cali said:
    Lets see if unlocking that 5c ends world hunger.

    Apple should have every right to know how they opened data to their products and IP.

    If the FBI isn't bluffing and refuse to tell Apple how they exploited the OS, Apple can tighten security even more and when the FBI asks how they can get in tell them "we won't tell you".
    Completely disagree. This is exactly how the FBI should be doing their business. Apple should continue to tighten security and the FBI should continue to find ways into phones and pass security. Cat and mouse.

    The FBI trying to force Apple to write code is wrong on oh sooo many levels. The FBI learning tech and how to break it is good on so many levels. 
    kent909spacekidmike1nostrathomasaylk
  • Reply 7 of 39
    ailowailow Posts: 8member
    An official, who spoke with the L.A. Times under conditions of anonymity, said the FBI was unlikely to use the San Bernardino forensics tool in a case resulting in criminal prosecutions because it would then be open to discovery at trial. Once made public, the vulnerability would likely be patched by Apple, making it much less valuable to law enforcement agencies.
    I'd love to see the "All Writs Act" be applied by the prosecutor to "compel" the FBI to unlock the phones!
    designra-oa-oa--,,a--,,ration allostkiwi
  • Reply 8 of 39
    CMA102DLCMA102DL Posts: 121member
    Well whatever the FBI is doing ain't helping their case for backdoors and weaker encryption, so I am giving them the benefit of a doubt. It seems like what they are doing is bragging that they unlocked Farook's phone like Apple's security sucks or something. I am ok with whatever as long as they never ask for backdoors to encryption again, like ever.
  • Reply 9 of 39
    steven n. said:
    cali said:
    Lets see if unlocking that 5c ends world hunger.

    Apple should have every right to know how they opened data to their products and IP.

    If the FBI isn't bluffing and refuse to tell Apple how they exploited the OS, Apple can tighten security even more and when the FBI asks how they can get in tell them "we won't tell you".
    Completely disagree. This is exactly how the FBI should be doing their business. Apple should continue to tighten security and the FBI should continue to find ways into phones and pass security. Cat and mouse.

    The FBI trying to force Apple to write code is wrong on oh sooo many levels. The FBI learning tech and how to break it is good on so many levels. 
    Actually Apple does have every right to know how the FBI unlocked the iPhone. For the 99.9% of people that don't do anything wrong, they have a right to have a device that's secure as possible. It shouldn't be the FBIs policy to risk all of our personal information and keep security exploits from Apple just so they can keep hacking in whenever they want. That's petty and not what the FBI is for. Remember that they work for us tax paying citizens, not the other way around. I'm fine with them looking for exploits on the next secure iPhone if there are any, but like I already said it's childish to keep that information from Apple because they don't want Apple to make a more secure iPhone. Remember who wanted the iPhone more secure in the first place? Oh that's right the government because they wanted thefts to drop. They can't have their cake and eat it too. 
    calinolamacguy
  • Reply 10 of 39
    calicali Posts: 3,494member
    steven n. said:
    cali said:
    Lets see if unlocking that 5c ends world hunger.

    Apple should have every right to know how they opened data to their products and IP.

    If the FBI isn't bluffing and refuse to tell Apple how they exploited the OS, Apple can tighten security even more and when the FBI asks how they can get in tell them "we won't tell you".
    Completely disagree. This is exactly how the FBI should be doing their business. Apple should continue to tighten security and the FBI should continue to find ways into phones and pass security. Cat and mouse.

    The FBI trying to force Apple to write code is wrong on oh sooo many levels. The FBI learning tech and how to break it is good on so many levels. 
    The FBI has no business finding ways to unlock our phones. Apple does indeed have every right to know. Would you like the FBI finding ways into your iPhone, your TV, computer, wifi, security cameras etc?

    BTW The "end world hunger" reference was a bad joke. I only said it because the FBI made it seem like unlocking Farook's work phone would bring world peace or something.

    The FBI never got into Farook's iPhone because Farook destroyed it. What they have is a San Bernadino work phone....big difference. Whatever they claim to have extracted from the phone will never be substantiated, disclosed or presented in court. You'll just have to take their word for it.

    This brings up an interesting question for me. WHAT exactly did they "extract" from the phone?

    Theyre being super vague and it could mean anything. Could just be call history and they're being passive aggressive to make Apple look inferior.
  • Reply 11 of 39

    I read that if the DOJ pursues the NY case, where Apple is being asked to unlock a 5S belonging to an alleged drug dealer, Apple could find out the method that the FBI used to unlock the 5C.

    Apple claims that the same method the FBI used in the 5C case can be used to unlock the 5S in question. If the method cannot be used, according to Apple's filing:

    "If the DOJ claims that the method will not work on the iPhone here, Apple will seek to test that claim, as well as any claims by the government that other methods cannot be used"

    Source: Macworld.

  • Reply 12 of 39
    alruialrui Posts: 29member
    The FBI is likely playing silly mind games, and themedia just seems to be lapping it up with zero serious questioning or skepticism. 

    I agree, the whole thing is fishy!
  • Reply 13 of 39
    postmanpostman Posts: 35member
    FBI Director James Comey accomplished one thing, and one thing only, with his public grandstand against Apple over encryption. That he is a pathological liar. The FBI deserves better leadership. Comey should resign because of the damage he has done to the FBI's integrity.

    linkman
  • Reply 14 of 39
    wonkothesanewonkothesane Posts: 1,733member
    FBI not going to give access to the San Bernardino tool? I was of the opinion they didn't buy a tool from hat Iraeli company but their service to unlock one phone. Now all of a sudden the FBI has a Tool at its own hands? I would expect other interested parties to directly contact the service provider, no? So now it is implied the FBI has instead gained full access to the tool so they can use it with arbitrary number of phones, rent it out, possibly loose it to be found in public sometime in the near future. Err, I mean use it with this one phone just a second time. 

    You k ow what really scares me? One can imagine all kinds of dirty deals and evil plans, but they're very likely easily exceeded by reality. 
    magman1979
  • Reply 15 of 39
    jblongzjblongz Posts: 169member
    The method is known!  If your phone wasn't recently updated (two weeks ago), it can be unlocked.  Search youtube.
  • Reply 16 of 39
    spacekidspacekid Posts: 184member
    gtr said:
    If I didn't know better, I'd say the FBI (F*cking Bloody Idiots) were attempting a little bad PR payback against Apple by frequently referring to (now) being able access their devices.
    Since this came from an Arkansas prosecuting attorney and not the FBI, the evidence doesn't support your statement.
  • Reply 17 of 39
    spacekidspacekid Posts: 184member
    The FBI is likely playing silly mind games, and themedia just seems to be lapping it up with zero serious questioning or skepticism. 
    Since this came from an Arkansas prosecuting attorney and not the FBI, why do you think the FBI is behind this? You mean the FBI has never before helped other law enforcement agencies break into smart phones and other electronic gear?

    I suspect you're hearing about this now because the press is publicizing it now after the recent Apple/FBI news to help make money for the news agencies. But I guess that doesn't play into your conspiracy theories.
    singularity
  • Reply 18 of 39
    spacekidspacekid Posts: 184member
    CMA102DL said:
    Well whatever the FBI is doing ain't helping their case for backdoors and weaker encryption, so I am giving them the benefit of a doubt. It seems like what they are doing is bragging that they unlocked Farook's phone like Apple's security sucks or something. I am ok with whatever as long as they never ask for backdoors to encryption again, like ever.
    Except this isn't the FBI bragging about it but rather an Arkansas prosecuting attorney.
    singularity
  • Reply 19 of 39
    thedbathedba Posts: 771member
    redraider11 said:
    Actually Apple does have every right to know how the FBI unlocked the iPhone. For the 99.9% of people that don't do anything wrong, they have a right to have a device that's secure as possible. It shouldn't be the FBIs policy to risk all of our personal information and keep security exploits from Apple just so they can keep hacking in whenever they want. That's petty and not what the FBI is for. Remember that they work for us tax paying citizens, not the other way around. I'm fine with them looking for exploits on the next secure iPhone if there are any, but like I already said it's childish to keep that information from Apple because they don't want Apple to make a more secure iPhone. Remember who wanted the iPhone more secure in the first place? Oh that's right the government because they wanted thefts to drop. They can't have their cake and eat it too. 
    No they don't have the right to know how the phone got unlocked. They advertise security it's up to them to make it so. 
    Your 2nd sentence doesn't make sense. There is no questionnaire provided to potential iPhone buyers to see if they have anything to hide. There are no security checks. Either all iPhones out for sale are secure or they are not.
    Every single government agency would love to have all the information they can get on their citizens. This is true for the NSA, FBI, IRS etc. True for every country all over the world. It is up to us, the citizens, to hold our politicians feet to the fire and demand more transparency. It is up to us to stay informed and to make proper decisions when voting for the next representative. You give it to them and they're going to take it. This transcends political parties, left right, liberal conservative, etc.

  • Reply 20 of 39
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    spacekid said:
    The FBI is likely playing silly mind games, and themedia just seems to be lapping it up with zero serious questioning or skepticism. 
    Since this came from an Arkansas prosecuting attorney and not the FBI, why do you think the FBI is behind this? 
    Because the two parties have been in direct communication with each other and, straight after receiving the offer of assistance from the FBI, Prosecutor Hiland announces to the press.

    You think it beyond the realms of possibility that deals like this can (and do) occur on a daily basis in the world of politics?

    You're probably right.

    If there's anything life has taught us it's that government servants and officials are utterly trustworthy, are of outstanding moral character, and never hold grudges. 
    nolamacguysteveh
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