FBI Didn’t Ask Apple for Help Unlocking Texas Shooter’s iPhone in First 48 Hours

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 might have been easier to unlock.

If the iPhone had Touch ID enabled, the shooter's finger might have been able to be used to unlock the device. But that unlocking method would have needed to be used within a 48 hour window, as Touch ID is disabled after 48 hours have passed since it was last activated or when the iPhone is powered off.

Christopher Combs, head of the FBI's San Antonio field office, said on Tuesday that the shooter's smartphone is being transferred to the FBI's crime lab in Quantico, Virginia as authorities have not been able to unlock it.

Little is known about the shooter's smartphone at this time. Sources told the Washington Post that it's an iPhone, but it's not known which iPhone it is nor which version of iOS it's running. It's also not known if Touch ID was indeed enabled on the phone at this point.

As we learned with the San Bernardino case, Apple will not provide authorities with the tools to unlock the iPhone, but the company can and will provide iCloud data if compelled by court order. It is not known if Apple has already received a court order asking for iCloud information.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Tags: FBI, Apple-FBI

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

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, Wray says the 6,900 devices that were inaccessible accounted for half of the total devices the FBI attempted to retrieve data from. Wray called the FBI's inability to get into the devices a "huge, huge problem."
"To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem," Wray said. "It impacts investigations across the board -- narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation."
Wray did not specify how many of the 6,900 devices the FBI could not access were iPhones or iPads running a version of Apple's iOS operating system, but encryption has been an issue between Apple and the FBI since last year when the two clashed over the unlocking of an iPhone 5c owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

The FBI took Apple to court in an attempt to force Apple to create a version of iOS that would disable passcode security features and allow passcodes to be entered electronically, providing the FBI with the tools to hack into the device.

Apple refused and fought the court order, claiming the FBI's request could set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption. Apple ultimately did not capitulate and the FBI enlisted Israeli firm Cellebrite to crack the device.

Following the incident, there was a push for new encryption legislation, but it largely fizzled out after it was described by tech companies as "absurd" and "technically inept." Apple's fight with the FBI is far from over, though, as there was no final resolution following the San Bernardino dispute.

At the conclusion of the FBI lawsuit, Apple said the case "should never have been brought" and vowed to continue to increase the security of its products.

"Apple believes deeply that people in the United States and around the world deserve data protection, security and privacy. Sacrificing one or the other only puts people and countries at greater risk," Apple said in a statement.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.


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

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 that the tool cost the FBI.

Speculation in the midst of the Apple-FBI drama placed the price of the tool at upwards of $1.3 million, and then somewhere below $1 million. A recent statement by senator Dianne Feinstein appears to confirm the latter estimation, with Feinstein revealing that the U.S. government paid $900,000 to break into the locked iPhone 5c. The classified information came up during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, where Feinstein was questioning FBI director James Comey (via The Associated Press).

Senators Charles Grassley and Dianne Feinstein
"I was so struck when San Bernardino happened and you made overtures to allow that device to be opened, and then the FBI had to spend $900,000 to hack it open," said Feinstein, D-Calif. "And as I subsequently learned of some of the reason for it, there were good reasons to get into that device."
In the ongoing lawsuit filed by the Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett, the organizations cite the Freedom of Information Act: "Release of this information goes to the very heart of the Freedom of Information Act's purpose, allowing the public to assess government activity - here, the decision to pay public funds to an outside entity in possession of a tool that can compromise the digital security of millions of Americans." The FBI has repeatedly argued that the number should stay classified.

Despite the ongoing legal battles that the Apple-FBI event sparked, last year the FBI reported that it found "nothing of real significance" after it had gained access to the iPhone 5c, providing answers to some questions about the terrorist attack but generating no solid leads. In regards to the third party who was paid the $900,000 for the hacking tool, it's been widely reported that Israeli firm Cellebrite was the FBI's source, but a more informal group of professional hackers has also been suggested.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

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People were nuts about guns this Black Friday, FBI data shows

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When Black Friday kicked off the holiday shopping season this year, there was one thing on many people’s wish lists.

Guns were the hot ticket and interest in firearms on America’s biggest shopping day seemed to hit its highest yet. The FBI processed more background checks for gun buyers throughout Black Friday than on any other day, the agency told The Trace.

There were a total of 185,713 checks — the most made in a single day since the FBI’s national instant check system was launched almost 20 years ago. But the huge spike was one almost no one saw coming.

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