Tuesday 12 December 2017

Apple fights order to unlock gunman's phone

Apple CEO Tim Cook (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Apple CEO Tim Cook (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)

Rachael Alexander

Computer giant Apple has vowed to contest a court order to help FBI investigators access data on the phone belonging to San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook.

The order concerns an iPhone 5C that belonged to Farook who, together with his wife Tashfeen Malik, killed 14 people and injured 22 when they opened fire on a social services agency in California last year. Farook and Malik were both killed in a shootout with police.

In a statement, Apple chief executive Tim Cook, pictured, said: "The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers.

"We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand."

Apple says it cannot unlock data on devices running iOS8 or newer. Since September 2014, data on the latest Apple devices - such as text messages and photographs - have been encrypted by default.

If a device is locked, the user's passcode is required to access the data. Entering an incorrect code 10 times will automatically erase the phone's data, if this option has been enabled.

Apple says even its own staff cannot access the data - a move the company made following the Edward Snowden revelations into government surveillance.

The FBI has asked Apple to do two things.

Firstly, it wants the company to alter Farook's iPhone so that investigators can make unlimited attempts at the passcode without the risk of erasing the data.

Secondly, it wants Apple to help implement what is known as a 'brute force' attack, trying out every combination until stumbling across the correct one and unlocking the phone.

Irish Independent

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