Apple (NASDAQ: APPL) executives said Friday that the iCloud password of the iPhone previously owned by one of the San Bernardino terrorists was apparently reset by the San Bernardino County at the FBI’s request –less than 24 hours after authorities found the device.
According to Apple, a backup could have been obtained if the government wouldn’t have changed the Apple ID.
Currently, the U.S. Government has filed a request that would require Apple to build a system to access the iPhone, which Apple considers as a “special backdoor way into the phone”. According to John Paczkowski, managing editor at BuzzFeed San Francisco, Apple has been in talks with the government since January and four ways to access the phone have been discussed.
“The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand,” wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook in a statement Tuesday.
One of the methods consists of connecting the phone to a known Wi-Fi network to obtain an iCloud backup that will provide the FBI with relevant information. Nonetheless, Apple sent engineers to try the method and they discovered that the Apple ID of the iPhone had already been changed.
The FBI said on Friday that the password had been changed by someone at the San Bernardino Health Department. However, on Saturday @CountyWire tweeted that the San Bernardino County was working alongside the FBI and changed de iCloud password at the FBI’s request. A county spokesman, David Wert, later confirmed the information to BuzzFeed.
Apple stressed that if the government would not have changed the password, the tech company would not need to create a “backdoor” that would allow anyone with the software to access any iPhone. It was reported that the iPhone belonged to Syed Rizwan Farook, who killed 14 people at a holiday party at the Regional Center in San Bernardino, California, on Dec. 2.
According to Apple executives, creating a new method to access the iPhone could put at risk the privacy of millions of users, because it could function as a master key that could be used to access any iPhone. Sources stressed that no other government in the world had previously requested Apple to create a new version of iOS, exclusively designed to deactivate security measures and remove passcodes.
By 2015. Apple had already sold more than 700 million iPhones worldwide. According to John Paczkowski, Apple executives said they base their actions on their love for the U.S. and their desire “not to see civil liberties tossed aside”. The U.S. Department of Justice has not commented on the case since it was announced that the government had changed the iCloud password.
“If the order stands, Apple could be ordered to build backdoors into other devices, rendering them insecure and vulnerable to attack by law enforcement and by others as well,” wrote Director of the Freedom, Security and Technology Project at the Center for Democracy & Technology, Greg Nojeim, in a press release.