In the standoff between Apple and the FBI regarding manually unlocking an iPhone, the Cupertino-based company and the government have been fighting it out over who reset the phone’s iCloud backup password.
Apple recently said the iCloud password on the San Bernadino shooter’s iPhone 5c had been reset, which would have hampered any efforts to extract updated data from the phone.
At first, the FBI pointed its fingers at the county which owned shooter Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone. An official for the county however was responsible for messing up the iCloud password reset, according to the FBI. But the county said it was simply following orders. On Sunday, the FBI responded, saying that it was in fact present and working closely with San Bernadino County to reset the password and access the account.
The FBI is arguing that Apple is splitting hairs about the iCloud password and that it doesn’t mean it would have solved the problem.
“Through previous testing, we know that direct data extraction from an iOS device often provides more data than an iCloud backup contains. Even if the password had not been changed and Apple could have turned on the auto-backup and loaded it to the cloud, there might be information on the phone that would not be accessible without Apple’s assistance as required by the All Writs Act order. Since the iCloud backup does not contain everything on an iPhone. As the government’s pleadings state, the government’s objective was, and still is, to extract as much evidence as possible from the phone”.
Ultimately, whether the FBI messed up the iCloud password is not that relevant, as it’s aiming to collect as much data as possible from the phone even if it’s from different apps that Apple doesn’t control – going beyond simple texts and emails, and possibly involving data fro apps like WhatsApp even if it’s encrypted or protected in some other way.
Larry Banks is a keen follower of technology and finance. He has worked for a variety of online publications, writing about a diverse range of topics including mobile networks, patents, and Internet video delivery technologies.