‘Whackadoodles’ offered to help FBI crack iPhone

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iPhone 5c by uveX encryption
The FBI has cracked the San Bernardino iPhone, and we're starting to learn how it happened.
Photo: uveX/Pixabay

Details are emerging about how exactly the FBI managed to get into San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook’s device without the so-called “govtOS” it had been demanding from Apple.

ABC News has spoken to unnamed sources who have outlined the process through which the government finally cracked the stubborn encryption on the iPhone 5c. And while their statements mostly just confirm what we’ve heard before, the story takes some interesting turns.

Check out ABC’s report below.


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The government dropping its case against Apple, which has cited government overreach and the security of hundreds of millions of users’ data, does not quite end the debate because it has not established a legal precedent to dictate future cases. If the method the government has used in this case fails in future investigations — especially if upcoming versions of the iPhone’s operating system close whatever gap has allowed access this time — the legal proceedings and arguments about the balance between security and privacy will come right back. But for now, at least, it seems that the heat is off of Apple, and its next move is to try to figure out how the government got into the device.

The people who spoke to ABC didn’t get into the details we really want — namely, who provided the method that eventually worked and what that technique was — but they do provide some good insight.

We’d also love to hear more about the so-called “whackadoodles” who came forward claiming to be able to get into the phone. Considering the methods we have heard of have included acid, lasers, and social engineering (the last one being impossible considering the target of such a tactic is dead), it would be completely amazing to know which methods were too out there not to share.

But it’s interesting what these sources confirm: Namely, that the FBI had an “urgent meeting” on March 20 with a company it would not name (although reports say it’s Israeli security firm Cellebrite). At that meeting, the company demonstrated its method, and the higher-ups authorized it for use on the phone in custody. This past weekend, investigators made that attempt, and the Department of Justice claims it was successful.

Whackadoodles aside, the publicity this case received actually helped it attract the company that ended up providing the viable method, ABC reports.

“The solution was ‘generated as a result of the media attention,'” its sources say. And that’s probably good news for the Department of Justice because mostly, the media attention just made it look bad.

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  • plumbgray

    The article headline is misleading “the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone” unless the FBI used Hot Air to open the iPhone that is!

  • 5723alex .

    ” If the method the government has used in this case fails in future investigations..”

    This hack is only for 0.5% of iOS users running iOS 8.x on iPhone C which has no touch ID, no secure enclave…
    The majority, 80%+ use iOS 9.x and are not effected.

    The DOJ still demand Apple to unlock the iPhone belonging to a drug dealer, in Brooklyn court, still demand Apple to unlock another iPhone probably connected to ISIS….

  • rdub76

    Government trying to save face by saying “we did it anyway”. I’m sure Apple has already made this “technique” obsolete. Private industry will always be a few steps ahead of government until it has a gun to its head demanding it do otherwise.

    • Domino67

      Apple don’t know how it was done so why do you assume Apple made this technique obsolete?

      • rdub76

        Are you a high ranking Apple insider?

      • Domino67

        I am definitely not a blind fanboy like you appear to be.

  • whitewolf60

    The government says:

    “This past weekend, investigators made that attempt, and the Department of Justice claims it was successful.”

    Translation:

    They tried but smoked all the data in the process… they just don’t want to admit it, so they dropped the case to make themselves (and “Cellebrite”) look good : )

    • El Fez

      That is the scenario that I think is most realistic. They ruined their first and best chance at this phone when they first received it. All of this imagined drama for a device that they know has nothing worth looking at on it anyway.

      • whitewolf60

        The big hint was (re: the “nothing on it”):

        The perps destroyed both of their personal phones and “disappeared” their hard drive(s). And only a flaming idiot would do anything nefarious on a device that is controlled and managed by their employer…