The US government has dropped its attempts to force Apple to create backdoor access to a terrorist’s iPhone, claiming it has been able to find a way in itself.
A court filing (via The Register) made with the Central District of California on Monday, states the following:
“The government has now successfully accessed the data stored on [Syed] 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.
Accordingly, the government hereby requests that the Order Compelling Apple Inc. to Assist Agents in Search dated February 16, 2016 be vacated.”
The filing confirms what many had suspected when the government filed a court document a week ago requesting that a hearing on the case be put on hold.
It’s not clear how the FBI managed to crack the phone’s code or if an outside party helped it, although Apple is likely to want to know how its security mechanisms were bypassed and if the method could be used on other devices.
The key security functions preventing the FBI from ‘brute forcing’ the lock screen PIN were an auto-erase function which wipes all data after 10 incorrect passcode guesses, and a block on any party trying to electronically submit passcode attempts.
Another barrier to accessing the device was a milliseconds-delay feature introduced by Apple to neuter brute force attacks by effectively making them take years to carry out.
The case itself became a high profile standoff between Apple and the FBI with many experts believing the Feds deliberately tried to use an emotive case – the San Bernardino shootings – to set a legal precedent by forcing the smartphone giant to build a backdoor for the iPhone 5C.
The firm repeatedly stated that doing so would be commercial suicide and ultimately lead to said backdoor falling into the wrong hands, undermining security for Apple users all over the world.