It’s official, the FBI has unlocked San Bernardino shooter’s phone; drops case against Apple

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Mar 28, 2016 - 7:02pm AST

Sorry, Apple, looks like the FBI won’t be needing your help again.

The US Justice Department has dropped its case against Apple as they have unlocked Syed Farook’s iPhone via an alternative method and will no longer need the tech giant’s help.

In an official court document, they summed up the status as follows:

The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on Farook’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple Inc. mandated by Court’s Order Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in Search dated February 16, 2016.

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This comes after weeks of intense debate between the FBI and Apple, demanding that the company co-operate in providing a custom-built iPhone OS to allow them backdoor access to circumvent the lock screen in order to access data stored on Farook’s phone. Farook was involved in the 2015 San Bernardino attacks which claimed the lives of 14 civilians as well as Tashfeen Malik and himself in San Bernardino, California.

Just last week, the FBI announced that they may no longer need Apple’s assistance as they acquired help from a “third party” that demonstrated a very viable way of unlocking the phone without damaging what was stored on it. The FBI has since still not disclosed who this “third party” was and did not go into the details of how the phone was unlocked.

Previously, the FBI demanded that Apple assist as the phone may contain vital information that could be used in the case, but Apple felt that fulfilling such a request could destroy a decade worth of work put into protecting the privacy of those who use iOS based products. Apple refused to budge as developing a backdoor could prove dangerous to its user base if the workaround method fell into the wrong hands, and the wrong hands could very well be within the government itself. Their saving grace in this case was that they possessed no “master key” and would have to develop a backdoor from scratch.

Now it seems as if all iOS users may be at risk now that the FBI has found a way to beat the lock screen, assuming that there is any merit to the claim.

[Image: The Hacker News]

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