UPDATED: Feds Hack San Bernardino Terrorist’s Phone Without Apple’s Help


iphone_6s_review_20The U.S. Attorney’s Office says they’re asking the court to vacate an order to compel in the Apple iPhone case.

RIVERSIDE, CA- Federal officials are formally withdrawing the government’s request that Apple help them unlock a cell phone belonging to a San Bernardino terrorist.

According to U.S. Attorney Eileen Decker, the case is being dropped because officials were able to unlock Syed Rizwan Farook’s iPhone with the help of someone other than Apple.

Decker released the following statement Monday afternoon:

The government has asked a United States Magistrate Judge in Riverside, California to vacate her order compelling Apple to assist the FBI in unlocking the iPhone that was used by one of the terrorists who murdered 14 innocent Americans in San Bernardino on December 2nd of last year. Our decision to conclude the litigation was based solely on the fact that, with the recent assistance of a third party, we are now able to unlock that iPhone without compromising any information on the phone.

We sought an order compelling Apple to help unlock the phone to fulfill a solemn commitment to the victims of the San Bernardino shooting – that we will not rest until we have fully pursued every investigative lead related to the vicious attack. Although this step in the investigation is now complete, we will continue to explore every lead, and seek any appropriate legal process, to ensure our investigation collects all of the evidence related to this terrorist attack. The San Bernardino victims deserve nothing less.

A statement from the Department of Justice indicates federal officials are already reviewing information it retrieved from Farook’s phone:

In response to the announcement by federal authorities, Apple released their own statement.

“This case should have never been brought,” the company said. “This case raised issued which deserve a national conversation about our civil liberties, and our collective security and privacy. Apple remains committed to participated in that discussion.”

Here’s a copy of Apple’s full statement:

Last week, the feds asked for a postponement in legal proceedings, and announced a possible workaround to forcing Apple’s arm.

“On Sunday, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone,” according to a court filing. “Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance of Apple Inc.”

The “method” for circumventing the iPhone’s security wall was not disclosed. However, reports have circulated that several overseas firms, including Israel’s Cellebrite, have touted possession of forensic hacking technologies that could siphon data from the mobile device without damaging it.