Apple Says Apple ID Password on Shooter's iPhone Changed in Government Possession, Losing Access to Data

Shortly after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a motion demanding Apple comply with an order to help it unlock the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook, Apple executives shared key information with several reporters, including BuzzFeed's John Paczkowski, about government missteps that may have led to reduced access to the iPhone in question.

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According to Apple, the Apple ID password on the iPhone was changed "less than 24 hours" after being in government hands. Had the password not been altered, Apple believes the backup information the government is asking for could have been accessible to Apple engineers. The FBI has said it has access to weekly iCloud backups leading up to October 19, but not after that date, and it is seeking later information that could be stored on the device.

The executives said the company had been in regular discussions with the government since early January, and that it proposed four different ways to recover the information the government is interested in without building a back door. One of those methods would have involved connecting the phone to a known wifi network.

Apple sent engineers to try that method, the executives said, but the experts were unable to do it. It was then that they discovered that the Apple ID passcode associated with the phone had been changed.

Apple executives said the entire backdoor demand could have potentially been avoided if the Apple ID password not been changed, as connecting to a known Wi-Fi network would have caused the device to start backing up automatically so long as iCloud backups were enabled. Instead, with the information inaccessible, the FBI has requested tools that set what Apple calls a "dangerous precedent." The FBI wants a version of iOS that accepts electronic passcode input and removes passcode features like time limits and data erasure following failures.

Apple says the software would be the equivalent of a master key that could be used to access millions of devices (including Apple's newest iPhones and iPads) and has called the demand an "overreach" with chilling implications. Apple executives today also denied the DOJ's claim that the company's refusal to comply is a marketing tactic, saying it was done based on "love for the country" and "desire not to see civil liberties tossed aside."

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Top Rated Comments

Larry-K Avatar
107 months ago
My tax dollar at work, guess they had "Top People" working on it.

Make the FBI stand in line at the Genius Bar, like everyone else.
Score: 67 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Soni Sanjay Avatar
107 months ago
So the FBI screwed up and Apple has to pay the price... Sigh.
Score: 53 Votes (Like | Disagree)
apple supporter Avatar
107 months ago
If you'd like to stand with Apple's stance on privacy, there is a White House petition at https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/apple-privacy-petition
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SeattleMoose Avatar
107 months ago
This is the people/Tech Companies/Tim Cook vs the goons who call themselves our government. Stand fast on the tiller Mr. Cook, treacherous seas ahead!!!

Actually this whole thing is a good "shill test" of our congress and senate. Note carefully who votes for Big Brother and VOTE THEM OUT!!!
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Art Mark Avatar
107 months ago
This whole thing is so odd. And man, the comments section on the other article went to the wackos quickly. What I don't understand is Apple tired to help them, which I am certain any company would do in a situation like this. You'd do your best, right? And do it quietly. Then some folks drag the whole thing into court, and I can only think of one reason to do this and it has nothing to do with this phone and THIS case. It's a chance for the goons whether in the Govt or working for one of the many industrial sized military companies that farm out intelligence to the highest bidder. to try and make a case that none of us deserve to ever have any secrets from anyone anytime. But I would think with just one minute of thought a rational person would realize that if you build in a backdoor - everyone who wants access will have access. So security is gone, done. What the hell digital equipment would a Govt. employee even use? Ugh. This entire conversation drained down to the lowest common denominator quickly.
Score: 31 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Ron21 Avatar
107 months ago
Conclusion: Don't use Apple's iCloud backups! Backup only locally to an encrypted Mac :)
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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