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

(View all)
Avatar
95 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)
Avatar
95 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)
Avatar
95 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)
Avatar
95 months ago
Ncc...

One thing is for sure... The code on the depicted iPhone is 1701. Wild guess! ;-)
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
95 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)
Avatar
95 months ago
There is a guy in my local mall who will do it for them for only £15...
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone Maker Foxconn Says China's 'Days as the World's Factory Are Done'

Wednesday August 12, 2020 7:55 am PDT by
China will no longer be the world's manufacturing epicenter going forward, according to Apple's largest supply chain partner Foxconn, which has been gradually expanding its operations in other countries amid the U.S.-China trade war. "No matter if it's India, Southeast Asia or the Americas, there will be a manufacturing ecosystem in each," said Foxconn chairman Young Liu, according to Bloombe...

Leaker Jon Prosser: Apple Watch and iPad Launching in September, iPhone 12 Event to Take Place in October

Wednesday August 12, 2020 4:31 pm PDT by
Apple last month confirmed that this year's iPhone 12 models will launch outside of their normal September timeframe and will be "available a few weeks later," which has led to speculation about when an event might be held. Leaker Jon Prosser, who sometimes shares accurate knowledge of Apple's plans, today said that Apple will hold its iPhone 12 event during the week of October 12, with...

Apple Takes Legal Action Against Small Company With Pear Logo

Saturday August 8, 2020 11:09 am PDT by
Apple is taking legal action against the developers of the app "Prepear" due to its logo, according to iPhone in Canada. Prepear is an app that helps users discover recipes, plan meals, make lists, and arrange grocery deliveries. The app is a spinoff of "Super Healthy Kids," and the founders claim that they are facing litigation from Apple. Apple reportedly takes issue with Prepear's logo, ...

Apple to Launch Bundled Subscription Services Called 'Apple One'

Thursday August 13, 2020 3:41 am PDT by
Apple will launch a new range of subscription service bundles called "Apple One" as soon as October, according to a new report by Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The series of bundles would allow customers to subscribe to several Apple digital services together. This is expected to result in a lower monthly price than when the services are subscribed to individually. Bloomberg reports that the...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.6.1 With Fix for Storage Issue and Green Tinted Displays

Wednesday August 12, 2020 1:31 pm PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.6.1, minor updates that come a month after the release of the iOS 13.6 update with Car Keys and Audio Apple News+ stories. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.6.1 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General > Software Update. iOS 13.6.1 addresses an issue that could cause...

Apple May Release 4G-Only iPhone 12 in Early 2021

Tuesday August 11, 2020 5:28 am PDT by
In a research note shared by Business Insider, Wedbush Securities analysts said that Apple may release a cheaper iPhone 12 in early 2021 with no 5G connectivity. Wedbush initially believed Apple would launch a mix of 4G and 5G iPhone 12 models this fall. Following re-examination of Asian supply chains, analysts Daniel Ives, Strecker Backe, and Ahmad Khalil revised the predictions,...

Apple Removes Fortnite From App Store [Update: Epic Files Lawsuit Against Apple]

Thursday August 13, 2020 11:58 am PDT by
Just hours after Epic Games introduced a new direct payment option for Fortnite that skirts Apple's in-app purchase rules, Apple has pulled the Fortnite app from the App Store. Fortnite is no longer available for download on the iPhone or the iPad, and Apple provided a statement to MacRumors on Fortnite's removal:Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store...

iPad Pro Keyboard Comparison: Logitech's $160 Folio Touch vs. Apple's $300 Magic Keyboard

Tuesday August 11, 2020 2:11 pm PDT by
Logitech recently debuted the Folio Touch, a keyboard and trackpad case designed for the 11-inch iPad Pro that serves as an alternative to the Magic Keyboard. In our latest YouTube video, we compare the $160 Folio Touch to Apple's $300 Magic Keyboard to see which is better. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Logitech is selling the Folio Touch for $160, while Apple's...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.6 Supplemental Update With Virtualization Bug Fix

Wednesday August 12, 2020 1:20 pm PDT by
Apple today released a supplemental update for macOS Catalina 10.15.6, with the update coming a month after the original launch of macOS Catalina 10.15.6. The ‌‌macOS Catalina‌‌ 10.15.6 Supplemental Update can be downloaded from the Mac App Store using the Update feature in the System Preferences app. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a problem that could cause...

Kuo: Global iPhone Shipments Could Decline Up to 30% If Apple Forced to Remove WeChat From App Store [Updated x2]

Sunday August 9, 2020 10:17 pm PDT by
In a worst-case scenario, Apple's annual global iPhone shipments could decline by 25–30% if it is forced to remove WeChat from its App Stores around the world, according to a new research note from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo viewed by MacRumors. The removal could occur due to a recent executive order aiming to ban U.S. transactions with WeChat and its parent company Tencent. Kuo lays out...