FBI cracks Pensacola shooters iPhone without Apple help

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Apple says Fbi hacking Pensacola shooter’s iPhone is wrong!

Once touted as the most hack free smartphone in the world, Apple’s iPhone has come a long way. Two days back we had reported how the iPhone exploit rates were falling drastically due to oversupply. This is a clear indication that the iPhone is no longer hack-proof as it was claimed to be. This brings us to the current tussle between the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Apple over the FBI hacking of Pensacola shooter’s iPhone.

Did FBI use GrayKey or Hide UI spyware to hack Pensacola shooter’s iPhone – find out here

The FBI has managed to hack into the iPhone used by the shooter at the naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, something which was considered critical for the investigation, and now the Feds are using this occasion to restart their public offensive against Apple.

Pensacola shooter linked to Al-Qaeda

The Saudi military trainee who killed three US sailors and wounded several others in a terror attack last year on a military base in Pensacola, Florida, was a longtime associate of al Qaeda who had communicated with operatives from the group as recently as the night before the shooting, the Justice Department and the FBI announced on Monday. According to DoJ, the FBI found links to Al-Qaeda in the shooter’s iPhone after they broke through the encryption and have been able to use the information on the devices to carry out a recent counterterrorism operation in Yemen. FBI hacked into the iPhone without Apple’s help.

FBI Director, Christopher Wray says Apple refused to help the FBI in cracking the iPhone. Apple has repeatedly refused to break into its own devices, describing a potential hack as a national security threat that would eventually expose everyone with an iPhone. Apple has been panned in the security and intelligence community for not helping hack potential terrorist’s iPhone. Attorney General William Barr has also criticized Apple for not helping the FBI in a public statement.

The iPhone belonged to Mohammed Alshamrani, a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who had been training at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Alshamrani went on shooting spree which claimed the lives of 3 persons and was killed by law enforcement during the attack. FBI skimmed through the iPhone data of Alshamrani and found that he had been in contact with Al-Qaeda since 2015.

Cupertino-based tech giant refused to provide assistance to the FBI in unlocking the device. However, it had helped the FBI by providing all the data it had in its possession including the iCloud data of Alshamrani. Apple made a public statement stating:

We provided every piece of information available to us, including ‌iCloud‌ backups, account information and transactional data for multiple accounts, and we let continuous and ongoing technical and investigative support to FBI offices in Jacksonville, Pensacola, and New York over the months since. The false claims made about our company are an excuse to weaken encryption and other security measures that protect millions of users and our national security.

Apple

Apple said that basically FBI was asking the company to provide a backdoor to the iPhone for law enforcement agencies. Apple added that such ideas are actually a threat to the encryption available on smartphones. Apple had similarly refused to help the FBI in cracking an iPhone 5C belonging to the San Bernardino shooter in 2015. At that time the shooter, Syed Rizwan Farook along with another member killed  14 people and seriously injured 22.

Apple had at that time refused to help crack the Saint Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5C. FBI had managed to convince the court to order Apple to crack the iPhone. FBI used the All Writs Act to compel Apple to write new software which enabled it to access data on the shooter’s iPhone.

Apple has insisted that building a backdoor just for law enforcement has a risk of such a backdoor would still end up with cybercriminals endangering the lives of millions of iPhone users.

Where do you stand on this encryption debate?

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