FBI breaks into San Bernardino gunman’s iPhone
The FBI has managed to unlock the iPhone of the San Bernardino gunman without Apple’s help, ending a court case, the US justice department says.
Apple had been resisting a court order issued last month requiring the firm to write new software to allow officials to access Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone.
But officials on Monday said that it had been accessed independently and asked for the order to be withdrawn.
Farook and his wife killed 14 in San Bernardino, California, in December.
They were later shot dead by police.
The FBI said it needed access to the phone’s data to determine if the attackers worked with others, were targeting others and were supported by others.
US officials said Farook’s wife, Tashfeen Malik, had pledged allegiance to the so-called Islamic State on social media on the day of the shooting.
Last week, prosecutors said “an outside party” had demonstrated a possible way of unlocking the iPhone without the need to seek Apple’s help.
A court hearing with Apple was postponed at the request of the justice department, while it investigated new ways of accessing the phone.
At the time, Apple said it did not know how to gain access, and said it hoped that the government would share with them any vulnerabilities of the iPhone that might come to light.
On Monday a statement by Eileen Decker, the top federal prosecutor in California, said investigators had received the help of “a third party”, but did not specify who that was.
Investigators had “a solemn commitment to the victims of the San Bernardino shooting”, she said.
“It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with co-operation from relevant parties, or through the court system when co-operation fails,” the statement added.
Responding to the move, Apple said: “From the beginning, we objected to the FBI’s demand that Apple build a backdoor into the iPhone because we believed it was wrong and would set a dangerous precedent. As a result of the government’s dismissal, neither of these occurred. This case should never have been brought.”
The company said it would “continue to increase the security of our products as the threats and attacks on our data become more frequent and more sophisticated”.