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Tag: phone

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.”

Homeland Security Leader Accidentally Gave Out Sex Hotline Number

cell-phone-app-fbiBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A Homeland Security leader who was warming the public about dangers of sexual predators passed out business cards for his desk, but there was only one problem: The phone number directed people to a 24-hour sex talk line.

The Desert News reports that Steve Cagen, the new head of the investigative arm of Homeland Security’s Utah division, disseminated his business cards, which contained the wrong phone number.

When reporters called the number, they were greeted with a woman’s voice who said, “Hi, sexy” with sultry music in the background. The woman told callers that they had reached the “hottest fantasy line in North America” while offering “private erotic conversations.”

An ICE spokeswoman later acknowledged that the numbers on Cagen’s business card were wrong.

Other Stories of Interest

Oregon Man Charged After Calling FBI 752 Times And Making Threats

phoneBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

A 45-year-old Oregon man accused of calling the FBI phone line 752 times since December 2015 and leaving threats for agents is facing a federal criminal charge.

Authorities said Shawn Fredrick Weatherhead of Eugene called the line in April and declared, “I have a legal right to start killing you people. And I’m going to,” The Oregonian reports. 

On April 2, Weatherfield added in a message, “I’m going to start killing people.”

Weatherman was charged with interstate communication of a threat to injure another person, according to a complaint filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Eugene.

It’s not the first time Weatherman was charged for making inappropriate calls to a law enforcement agency. In June 2015, he was sentenced to 10 days of jail after pleading guilty to five counts of telephonic harassment. A condition of his probation was that he not have contact with any law enforcement agency unless it’s an emergency.

Federal Authorities Detain, Search Phone of NASA Scientist at Airport

nasaBy Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Sidd Bikkannavar, who works at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab and is a natural-born U.S. citizen, was detained while trying to reenter the United States just as the President Trump’s controversial immigration ban took effect.

But it didn’t stop there. He said Border Patrol agents confiscated his NASA-issued phone, which could include sensitive information, Gizmodo reports. 

Bikkannavar posted about the incident on Facebook:

Sorry for the absence. On my way home to the US last weekend, I was detained by Homeland Security and held with others who were stranded under the Muslim ban. CBP officers seized my phone and wouldn’t release me until I gave my access PIN for them to copy the data. I initially refused, since it’s a JPL-issued phone (Jet Propulsion Lab property) and I must protect access. Just to be clear – I’m a US-born citizen and NASA engineer, traveling with a valid US passport. Once they took both my phone and the access PIN, they returned me to the holding area with the cots and other sleeping detainees until they finished copying my data.

I’m back home, and JPL has been running forensics on the phone to determine what CBP/Homeland Security might have taken, or whether they installed anything on the device. I’ve also been working with JPL legal counsel. I removed my Facebook page until I was sure this account wasn’t also compromised by the intrusion into my phone and connected apps. I hope no one was worried. JPL issued me a new phone and new phone number, which I’ll give out soon.

Bikkannavar had landed at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas, on Jan. 30, when he was detained and told that the Border Patrol was going to search his phone.

Bikkannavar told authorities that he was no allowed to hand over his phone because he’s required to protect it.

Trump Exchanges Android for New Secret Service-Approved Phone

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

Donald Trump, via Wikipedia

By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday exchanged his Android device for an unidentified locked-down phone.

Included is a new phone number, which only a small group of people will know, the Associated Press reports. 

Because of hacking concerns, Barack Obama became the first president to use a phone approved by security agencies.

Expect Trump to use his new phone to tweet on his existing Twitter account. He said he does not plan to use the @POTUS account.

The Secret Service wouldn’t comment for this story.

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 Now Says It Didn’t Err When Trying to Reset San Bernardino attacker’s iCloud password

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

FBI officials are backing off earlier claims made by Director James Comey that “there was a mistake” made by investigators when they tried to gain access to an iPhone of one of the San Bernardino shooters.

In a court filing on Thursday, FBI officials said the decision to reset the password of an iCloud account tied to Syed Farook, who killed 14 people with the help of his wife in the Dec. 2 shootings, did not make a difference in accessing data from the phone, The Dallas Morning News reports. 

Farouk turned off iCloud backups for his mail, photos and notes, said FBI Agent Chris Pluhar.

The sworn declaration was intended to rebut claims from Apple that the FBI erred when it tried to change the iCloud password. If investigators hadn’t done that, Apple said investigator could have tricked the iPhone from automatically backing up to iCloud.

“In short, Apple is not some distant, disconnected third party unexpectedly and arbitrarily dragooned into helping solve a problem for which it bears no responsibility,” Justice Department lawyers wrote. “Rather, Apple is intimately close to the barriers on Farook’s locked iPhone because Apple specifically designed the iPhone to create those barriers.”

Apple took offense at suggestions that the company was trying to impeded the investigation.

“Everybody should beware because it seems like disagreeing with the Department of Justice means you must be evil and anti-American, nothing could be further from the truth,” Apple senior vice president and general counsel Bruce Sewell said in a conference call with reporters.

Other Stories of Interest

Apple’s Fight Against FBI Over Unlock iPhone Heads to Congress This Week

IPhone 6By Steve Neavling
ticklethewire.com

Apple and the FBI will take their fight over a locked iPhone to Congress this week.

FBI Director James Comey is scheduled to lay out his position before the House Judiciary Committee after Apple fought a court order to help the bureau unlock an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters, The Hill reports. 

The same day, Apple General Counsel Bruce Sewell will make his case in testimony during a second panel.

At issue is Apple’s refusal to create software to disable a feature that wipe a phone of its memory after an incorrect password is entered 1o times in a row.

“This is a huge issue which is very complex. It should not be decided by a single district judge in California, it should be decided right here,” Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) told The Hill this week. But, he added, “I don’t think we’re ready to articulate” what legislation is needed.