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Tag: encryption

FBI Missed Critical 48-Hour Window to Open Church Shooter’s iPhone

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI failed to ask Apple to help unlock the iPhone of the Texas church shooter in the two days following the massacre that left 26 people dead.

Apple, which has refused to offer help unlocking encrypted phones in the past, said it offered to assist the FBI but agents never reached out, Business Insider reports

“Our team immediately reached out to the FBI after learning from their press conference Tuesday that investigators were trying to access a mobile phone,” Apple said in a statement. “We offered assistance and said we would expedite our response to any legal process they send us.”

The phone, instead, was sent to a lab for analysis.

As a result, the FBI lost 48 hours without locking the device by using the finger prints of the shooter, Devin Kelley, if the phone was fingerprint-access enabled.

That’s significant because iPhones locked with a fingerprint for 48 hours or more require the user’s passcode.

The FBI declined to comment.

Not Again? FBI Unable to Unlock Cell Phone of Texas Church Shooter

Photo via FBI

Photo via FBI

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Here we go again?

The FBI has been unable to unlock the encrypted cellphone of the Texas church shooter, mirroring similar difficulties trying to access the locked phone of a San Bernardino mass shooter more than a year ago.

The phone of Devin Kelley could provide critical information about his motive and whether anyone else was involved or knew in advance that he planned to unload his firearms inside a church in Texas. The phone has been sent to an FBI lab for analysis.

Phone encryption has been a source of frustration for the FBI, which tried to force Apple to help it access the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone last year. Professional hackers eventually helped the FBI unlock the phone

Congress has been reluctant to enact legislation that would force technology companies to help open the phones of criminal suspects.

“It highlights an issue you’ve all heard about before. With the advance of the technology and the phones and the encryption, law enforcement is increasingly not able to get into these phones,” Christopher Combs, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Antonio division, said, according to the Associated Press. 

Combs added: “We’re working very hard to get into that phone, and that will continue until we find an answer.”

FBI Wants to Hack into Another Encrypted iPhone Belonging to a Dead Man

Apple logoBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI may be headed for another legal showdown with Apple.

Eight months after the FBI asked a court to order Apple to help hack into the encrypted iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook, the bureau has obtained the iPhone of the man who stabbed 10 people in a Minnesota mall, Wired reports. 

Tahir Adan’s phone is locked with a passcode, and FBI agents are still trying to access the contents.

“Dahir Adan’s iPhone is locked,” FBI special agent Rich Thorton told reporters, “We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain.”

Thornton didn’t reveal the model of iPhone or its operating system.

Apple declined to help the FBI break into Farook’s phone, prompting the bureau to hire an outside entity to access the phone.

Other Stories of Interest

FBI Paid At Least $1.3M to Unlock San Bernardino iPhone, Director Suggests

FBI Director James Comey

FBI Director James Comey

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

An undisclosed group of hackers received at least $1.3 million to help the FBI unlock an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters, the New York Times reports. 

FBI Director James Comey was asked at a technology conference in London on Thursday how much the bureau paid for the outside group.

“Let’s see, more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure,” Comey said.

Comey makes about $185,000 a year – or $1.35 million for the remainder of his 10-year term.

The FBI had been unwilling to disclose the amount spent on unlocking the phone and declined to comment on the specific cost.

FBI Finds Useful Information on Unlocked iPhone of San Bernardino Shooter

Apple-iphoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

The FBI is making progress after cracking an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers.

Fortune reports that the phone reveals Syad Farook likely did not coordinate with another plotter.

The phone has been at the center of a heated debate over privacy and encryption.

After Apple refused to help open the iPhone, the FBI found help from professional hackers.

The FBI continues to search the phone for evidence.

FBI Can’t Access 13% of Password-Protected Cell Phones Because of Encryption

cellphone-tower-photo2By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Password-protected cellphones have become a big problem for the FBI.

Since Oct. 1, the bureau has been unable to unlock 13% of the password-protected phones that were part of an investigation, a top bureau official told a House panel Tuesday.

Investigators are having a tougher time than ever cracking into phones since data encryption has become stronger, the USA Today reports. 

“Clearly, that presents us with a challenge,” Amy Hess, executive assistant director of the FBI’s science and technology branch, told members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Congress is debating whether to pass legislation that would make it easier for law enforcement to bypass security features.

FBI Battled Encryption 13 Years Ago in Investigation of Animal Welfare Group

Data securityBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When the FBI was investigating an animal welfare group accused of sabotaging a company that tests drugs on animals in early 2003, agents hit began intercepting call and e-mails of the activists.

But agents couldn’t read the e-mail because of software.

The New York Times reports that the FBI persuaded a judge to let agents install a software to bypass encryption on the group’s computers.

“This was the first time that the Department of Justice had ever approved such an intercept of this type,” an F.B.I. agent wrote in a 2005 document summing up the case.

The encryption helped prosecutors convict six activists with conspiracy to violate the Animal Enterprise Protection Act.

The case is a precursor to the battle with Apple of encryption.

How the FBI Unlocked an iPhone without the Help of Apple

FBI headquarters

FBI headquarters

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

When Apple refused to help the FBI open an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers, the bureau sought help from experts worldwide.

They met with companies and hackers, but no one was able to bypass the security feature.

Then on March 20, a company came forward and demonstrated that they unlocked another iPhone. The FBI decided to give the San Bernardino phone a shot with the company this past weekend, ABC News reports. 

“The FBI has now successfully retrieved the data stored” on the phone, the Justice Department announced just days ago.

The FBI has declined to identify the company, saying they arrived at a “mutual agreement.”

The solution was “generated as a result of the media attention,” a source told ABC News.

Now forensic examiners are trying to gather evidence from the phone.