Apple-FBI

By MacRumors Staff
On February 16, 2016, a U.S. federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

The FBI asked Apple to create a version of iOS that would both disable passcode security features and allow passcodes to be entered electronically, allowing it to then brute force the passcode on the device.

Apple announced that it would oppose the order in an open letter penned by Tim Cook, who said the FBI's request would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption. Apple said the software the FBI asked for could serve as a "master key" able to be used to get information from any iPhone or iPad - including its most recent devices - while the FBI claimed it only wanted access to a single iPhone.

Apple's dispute with the FBI ended on March 28, 2016 after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone through the help of Israeli firm Cellebrite and withdrew the lawsuit.

Apple-FBI Articles

FBI Has Still Not Managed to Unlock iPhone Used by Mass Shooter in Florida Last Year

Wednesday February 5, 2020 10:46 am PST by Joe Rossignol
FBI officials have still not managed to unlock a passcode-protected iPhone that investigators believe was owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the perpetrator of a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida in December. The disclosure was made by FBI director Christopher Wray at a House Judiciary Committee hearing today, according to Bloomberg. Wray told Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that the...

New York Law Enforcement Officials Operate $10 Million Lab Designed to Crack iPhones

Tuesday January 21, 2020 10:44 am PST by Juli Clover
Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. built and oversees a $10 million high-tech forensics lab built expressly for the purpose of cracking iPhones, according to a new profile done by Fast Company. The lab is equipped with "mind-bending hardware" and a team of technology experts, many of whom are ex-military. The facility itself features a radiofrequency isolation chamber that prevents...

Apple Reportedly Dropped Plans for End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups After FBI Objected

Tuesday January 21, 2020 3:59 am PST by Joe Rossignol
More than two years ago, Apple informed the FBI that it planned to roll out end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, according to Reuters. Apple ultimately dropped the plan at some point after the FBI objected, although the report notes that it is unclear if the federal agency was a factor in the decision. A former Apple employee told Reuters that the company did not want to risk scrutiny...

FBI Successfully Unlocks iPhone 11 Pro in Ohio, Casting Doubt on Claims it Needs Apple's Help in Florida Mass Shooter Case

Thursday January 16, 2020 2:18 am PST by Tim Hardwick
New questions have been raised about the FBI's latest request that Apple break its iPhone encryption, after Forbes uncovered a search warrant strongly indicating that federal agents already have tools that can access data on Apple's latest ‌iPhone‌ models. The report says that FBI investigators in Ohio recently used the GrayKey hardware box to unlock an iPhone 11 Pro Max. The ‌iPhone‌...

Donald Trump Calls on Apple to 'Step Up to the Plate' and Unlock iPhones Used by Florida Mass Shooter

Tuesday January 14, 2020 3:10 pm PST by Juli Clover
United States President Donald Trump this afternoon weighed in on a disagreement between Apple and the FBI, calling on Apple to "step up to the plate" and "help our great country" by unlocking the iPhones used by Florida shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. Trump said that the U.S. is "helping Apple all of the time" but Apple refuses to "unlock" smartphones used by "killers, drug dealers and...

U.S. Attorney General Asks Apple to Unlock iPhones Used by Florida Mass Shooter [Updated]

Monday January 13, 2020 10:57 am PST by Juli Clover
United States Attorney General William Barr today asked Apple to unlock the iPhones used in mass shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, reports The New York Times. The request comes as the shooting has been declared an act of terrorism, and it follows a report last week that the FBI sent a letter to Apple asking for help accessing two iPhones used by shooter Mohammed ...

FBI Reportedly Asks Apple to Help Unlock Passcode-Protected iPhones Used by Mass Shooter in Florida

Tuesday January 7, 2020 6:18 am PST by Joe Rossignol
In a letter sent late Monday to Apple's general counsel Katherine Adams, the FBI has asked Apple to help unlock two iPhones that investigators believe were owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who carried out a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last month, according to NBC News. The report claims the iPhones are passcode protected, and one of them appears to be damaged by...

FBI 'Grossly Inflated' Statistics on Investigations Stymied by Encrypted Smartphones

Tuesday May 22, 2018 5:50 pm PDT by Juli Clover
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation provided Congress with "grossly inflated" statistics on the number of electronic devices it has been been unable to access due to encryption, reports The Washington Post. Last year, the FBI claimed to have been locked out of close to 7,800 devices that were connected to crimes, but the actual number of devices that were inaccessible is smaller, ...

Anti-Surveillance Coalition That Includes Apple Condemns Proposals for Device Backdoors

Wednesday May 2, 2018 1:53 pm PDT by Juli Clover
The Reform Government Surveillance coalition, which includes several major tech companies who have teamed up to lobby for surveillance law reform, this week released a statement condemning recent proposals for backdoor access into electronic devices and reaffirming a commitment to strong encryption. The coalition is made up of multiple tech companies who have taken a strong stance against...

'GrayKey' iPhone Unlocking Box Seeing Wide Adoption Among Law Enforcement

Thursday April 12, 2018 12:24 pm PDT by Juli Clover
GrayShift's recently publicized "GrayKey" box designed to crack locked iPhones is seeing wide adoption among police forces and federal agencies across the United States according to a recent investigation by Motherboard. Motherboard found that regional police forces like the Maryland State Police, the Indiana State Police, and the Miami-Dade County Police have purchased or are soon purchasing...

FBI Didn't Investigate All Unlocking Options Before Seeking Order for Apple's Help in San Bernardino Case

Tuesday March 27, 2018 12:32 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Back in early 2016, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to pursue all possible solutions to unlock the iPhone 5c owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook before demanding Apple's help accessing the device, reports Reuters. The information was shared today in a report issued by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General. According to the report, the ...

Craig Federighi on Renewed Government Push for Backdoor Device Access: 'Weakening Security Makes No Sense'

Monday March 26, 2018 11:43 am PDT by Juli Clover
Law enforcement officials are revisiting proposals that would require tech companies to build backdoor access into electronic devices to allow for better access to data in criminal investigations, reports The New York Times. This is an issue that was heavily debated following the 2016 legal dispute between Apple and the FBI over the iPhone 5c that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed...

FBI Forensic Examiner Stephen Flatley Calls Apple 'Jerks' and 'Evil Geniuses' for Encrypting iPhones

Thursday January 11, 2018 7:58 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Senior FBI forensic examiner Stephen R. Flatley spoke at the International Conference on Cyber Security yesterday, and during the talk he discussed Apple and the FBI's differing opinions on the topic of smartphone encryption. According to Motherboard, Flatley described the company as "jerks" and "evil geniuses" for creating iOS device encryption that is so powerful as to prevent Apple itself from ...

FBI Didn't Ask Apple for Help Unlocking Texas Shooter's iPhone in First 48 Hours [Updated]

Wednesday November 8, 2017 2:23 pm PST by Juli Clover
In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Texas Church on November 5th, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies failed to immediately ask Apple for help unlocking shooter Devin Patrick Kelley's iPhone, reports Reuters. According to a source that spoke to Reuters, the FBI did not contact Apple for about 48 hours after the shooting, missing a critical window where the iPhone in question...

FBI Unable to Retrieve Encrypted Data From 6,900 Devices Over the Last 11 Months

Monday October 23, 2017 1:17 pm PDT by Juli Clover
The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to retrieve data from 6,900 mobile devices that it attempted to access over the course of the last 11 months, reports the Associated Press. FBI Director Christopher Wray shared the number at an annual conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Sunday. During the first 11 months of the current fiscal year,...

FBI Can Keep Details of iPhone Hack Secret, Rules Judge

Sunday October 1, 2017 3:35 pm PDT by Tim Hardwick
The FBI doesn't have to identify the company it contracted to unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the 2015 California terror attack that killed 14 people, a federal judge ruled on Saturday (via Politico). Three news organizations – USA Today, Associated Press, and Vice Media – sued the FBI last year under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to try to force the agency to reveal...

Senator Reveals FBI Paid $900K for Hacking Tool Used to Open San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

Monday May 8, 2017 6:17 am PDT by Mitchel Broussard
A year after the public disagreement between Apple and the FBI, which centered on the passcode-locked iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino terrorist, one of the major questions remains how much the United States government and the FBI paid for the tool it used to crack open the iPhone. That question became so focused upon that a trio of news organizations filed a lawsuit to find out the exact amount...

Cellebrite Says it Now Supports 'Lawful Unlocking' of iPhone 6 and Older Models

Friday February 24, 2017 4:46 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
Cellebrite director of forensic research Shahar Tal recently tweeted out that the company's Advanced Investigative Service can now unlock and extract the full file system for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (via CyberScoop). To date, CAIS "supports lawful unlocking and evidence extraction" from the following iPhone generations: 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, and 6 Plus. No mention has been made whether or not...

News Organizations Refocus FBI Lawsuit to Question Cost of San Bernardino iPhone Hack Tool

Tuesday February 21, 2017 7:58 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
A trio of news organizations -- consisting of the Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett -- have petitioned a judge in the United States to force the FBI to reveal the exact amount of money it paid for the technology used to crack open an iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook (via BBC). The same group of news organizations sued the FBI last September to gain more information...

Hacker Leaks Cellebrite's iOS Bypassing Tools, Tells FBI 'Be Careful What You Wish For'

Friday February 3, 2017 5:59 am PST by Mitchel Broussard
It's been nearly a year since a U.S. federal judge originally ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into an iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino. As we learned in the months after the initial court order -- which Apple continually opposed -- the FBI enlisted the help of Israeli mobile software developer Cellebrite to open up the iPhone 5c in ...