FBI Ordered Password Reset on San Bernardino Shooting Suspect’s iPhone

Apple Inc. claimed Friday that the reason the FBI was requesting a “backdoor” into the iPhone in order to hack into the phone of one of the suspects in the San Bernardino shooting, was because it changed the iCloud password on the phone, making it so that Apple could not hack into it.

The iPhone in question reportedly was used by Syed Farook, who with his wife, Tashfeen Malik, are suspects in the shooting that killed 14 people and wounded 22 in San Bernardino, California, in December.

Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook initially spoke out about the FBI’s request on Tuesday, when he revealed that the agency wanted Apple to create a way to decrypt the iPhone, which he believed “has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” due to the fact that once “a way to bypass the code is revealed, the encryption can be defeated by anyone with that knowledge.”

The Guardian reported that the phone used by Farook belonged to his employer, San Bernardino County, and that while Apple has provided the FBI with the backup data it has accessed through Farook’s iCloud account, the last backup was performed on Oct. 19, six weeks before the shooting.

The FBI filed a motion with the Department of Justice on Friday to demand Apple’s cooperation, claiming that rather than assist the effort to fully investigate a deadly terrorist attack by obeying this court’s [order], Apple has responded by publicly repudiating that order.”

During a conference call Friday afternoon, an anonymous Apple official reportedly revealed that the iCloud password on the suspect’s iPhone was changed “less than 24 hours after the government took possession of the device,” which revoked Apple’s access into the iCloud account that was used for the backup content.

The San Bernardino County Wire Twitter account confirmed on Friday evening saying, The County was working cooperatively with the FBI when it reset the iCloud password at the FBI’s request.”

The FBI reportedly released a statement Saturday claiming that it “worked with” county officials to reset the iCloud password, justifying the fact that “a logical next step was to obtain access to iCloud backups for the phone in order to obtain evidence related to the investigation in the days following the attack.”

While the mother of one San Bernardino shooting victim said she believes Apple is “definitely within their rights” to refuse to create a backdoor into the iPhone, a lawyer has said he was contacted last week by “the Justice Department and local prosecutors,” and will represent a number of the shooting victims in a lawsuit against Apple.


Follow Rachel Blevins on Facebook and Twitter.

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Rachel Blevins is a journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives.

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