Apple Has Backlog of Requests From Police to Unlock Seized iPhones

PasscodeApple has created a 'waiting list' for law enforcement requests to unlock seized iOS devices, according to a report from CNET.

The article notes a case in Kentucky where the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was the lead agency, and investigators contacted Apple for assistance after they were unable to locate any law enforcement agency in the country with the forensic capabilities to unlock an iPhone crucial to the case.

The agency contacted Apple but was told by a representative in Apple's litigation group that there would be a seven-week delay.

The ATF's Maynard said in an affidavit for the Kentucky case that Apple "has the capabilities to bypass the security software" and "download the contents of the phone to an external memory device." Chang, the Apple legal specialist, told him that "once the Apple analyst bypasses the passcode, the data will be downloaded onto a USB external drive" and delivered to the ATF.

It's not clear whether that means Apple has created a backdoor for police -- which has been the topic of speculation in the past -- whether the company has custom hardware that's faster at decryption, or whether it simply is more skilled at using the same procedures available to the government. Apple declined to discuss its law enforcement policies when contacted this week by CNET.

While it's easy to erase an iPhone when it has been locked, for law enforcement, it appears to be considerably more difficult -- but not impossible -- to retrieve data from seized devices.

In its privacy policy, Apple says it may disclose personal information "by law, legal process, litigation, and/or requests from public and governmental authorities within or outside your country of residence" or "if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate."

Top Rated Comments

Nightarchaon Avatar
118 months ago
If Apple has a way, then that is a security hole waiting for the jail-breakers to discover.
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jsameds Avatar
118 months ago
There is a guy in my local mall who will do it for them for only £15...

£ and 'mall' in the same sentence - culture clash!
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
andyplace Avatar
118 months ago
If Apple has a way, then that is a security hole waiting for the jail-breakers to discover.
Unlikely. Apple has a ramdisk that they execute via DFU/iBoot that allows access to the filesystem, very similar to the ones used by forensic companies.

However, since the iPhone 4S and beyond, these ramdisks stopped working for forensic companies when Apple made the bootrom DFU code bulletproof (there are no exploits for it).

Only Apple can make their ramdisk work on the device because they have to codesign it with their private key AND obtain the proper personalisation signing for the device's identifiers and random NONCE. (Getting all these signatures for production devices could be time consuming without a lot of pre-existing tools to automate it. The personalisation process also varies between 4S/5/iPad 2/iPad 3/iPad mini. Normally iTunes mediates this during device restores to production iOS releases).
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
toschlebelge Avatar
118 months ago
Ncc...

One thing is for sure... The code on the depicted iPhone is 1701. Wild guess! ;-)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
technopimp Avatar
118 months ago
Hmm...this seems a little vague:

if we determine that for purposes of national security, law enforcement, or other issues of public importance, disclosure is necessary or appropriate
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AppleMark Avatar
118 months ago
There is a guy in my local mall who will do it for them for only £15...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iPhone 14 Purple Lineup Feature

Will the iPhone 14 Be a Disappointment?

Saturday May 21, 2022 9:00 am PDT by
With around four months to go before Apple is expected to unveil the iPhone 14 lineup, the overwhelming majority of rumors related to the new devices so far have focused on the iPhone 14 Pro, rather than the standard iPhone 14 – leading to questions about how different the iPhone 14 will actually be from its predecessor, the iPhone 13. The iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are expected...
iPhone 13 Face ID

'High-End' iPhone 14 Front-Facing Camera to Cost Apple Three Times More

Monday May 23, 2022 7:05 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 will feature a more expensive "high-end" front-facing camera with autofocus, partly made in South Korea for the first time, ET News reports. Apple reportedly ousted a Chinese candidate to choose LG Innotek, a South Korean company, to supply the iPhone 14's front-facing camera alongside Japan's Sharp. The company is said to have originally planned to switch to LG for the iPhone...
iPhone 13 Always On Feature

iPhone 14 Pro Screen Refresh Rate Upgrade Could Allow for Always-On Display

Tuesday May 24, 2022 7:23 am PDT by
Last year's iPhone 13 Pro models were the first of Apple's smartphones to come with 120Hz ProMotion displays, and while the two iPhone 14 Pro models will continue to feature the technology, their screens could well boast expanded refresh rate variability this time round. To bring ProMotion displays to the ‌iPhone 13 Pro models‌, Apple adopted LTPO panel technology with variable refresh...
apple music

Apple Increases Apple Music Subscription Price for Students in Several Countries

Sunday May 22, 2022 1:57 am PDT by
Apple has silently increased the price of its Apple Music subscription for college students in several countries, with the company emailing students informing them their subscription would be slightly increasing in price moving forward. The price change is not widespread and, based on MacRumors' findings, will impact Apple Music student subscribers in but not limited to Australia, the...
EA Apple Maybe Feature

Apple Reportedly Talked With Electronic Arts About Potential Acquisition

Monday May 23, 2022 10:58 am PDT by
Apple is one of several companies that have held talks with Electronic Arts (EA) about a potential purchase, according to a new report from Puck. EA has spoken to several "potential suitors," including Apple, Amazon, and Disney as it looks for a merger arrangement. Apple and the other companies declined to comment, and the status of the talks is not known at this time, but Apple does have an ...
sony headphones 1

Sony's New WH-1000XM5 Headphones vs. Apple's AirPods Max

Friday May 20, 2022 12:18 pm PDT by
Sony this week came out with an updated version of its popular over-ear noise canceling headphones, so we picked up a pair to compare them to the AirPods Max to see which headphones are better and whether it's worth buying the $400 WH-1000XM5 from Sony over Apple's $549 AirPods Max. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. First of all, the AirPods Max win out when it comes ...