Please create an account to participate in the Slashdot moderation system

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Get HideMyAss! VPN, PC Mag's Top 10 VPNs of 2016 for 55% off for a Limited Time ×
Encryption Government Iphone Apple Your Rights Online

Apple: Terrorist's Apple ID Password Changed In Government Custody (buzzfeed.com) 435

An anonymous reader writes: The Apple ID password linked to the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists was changed less than 24 hours after the government took possession of the device, senior Apple executives said Friday. If that hadn't happened, Apple said, a backup of the information the government was seeking may have been accessible.

Had that password not been changed, the executives said, the government would not need to demand the company create a 'backdoor' to access the iPhone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who died in a shootout with law enforcement after a terror attack in California that killed 14 people. The Department of Justice filed a motion to compel the company to do that earlier Friday.

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Apple: Terrorist's Apple ID Password Changed In Government Custody

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:46PM (#51545789)

    I understand that the government can issue a warrant, completely in the spirit of the 4th amendment. However, how can they "deputize" or force independent individuals/organizations to do their bidding?

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:55PM (#51545861)
      Welcome to the New World Order.
    • by AK Marc ( 707885 )
      So you don't know what a subpoena is, and are complaining that one of the more settled parts of law is invalid because you don't understand it?
    • How many more people would complain if this had happened ten years ago, under a 'different president, hmmm? There's no point in bringing up our rights. Most people are perfectly okay with it... If you don't believe me, just watch the TV on the 8th of November. It will be all laid out in living color. 98% will vote against Apple...

    • You mean like conscription? Like used in a war? Like we're in a "War on Terror" right now?
      I'm not saying it's right or wrong, but I can see that there is a case to be made.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:46PM (#51545791)

    This whole charade smells of the government abusing this one request to make precedent for future requests.

    • by rahvin112 ( 446269 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:15PM (#51545965)

      I thought that was obvious. But this little detail would present the government in a VERY bad light. To put this in perspective, that change in password would make anything found on the phone inadmissible in any trial as it indicates the chain of custody was broken.

      It will be interesting to see how the judge reacts to Apple's revelation that the only reason the government is locked out of the phone is because the government changed the password.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I thought that was obvious. But this little detail would present the government in a VERY bad light. To put this in perspective, that change in password would make anything found on the phone inadmissible in any trial as it indicates the chain of custody was broken.

        It will be interesting to see how the judge reacts to Apple's revelation that the only reason the government is locked out of the phone is because the government changed the password.

        The health department might have changed the password as part of their security protocol when an employer-issued smartphone has been lost, stolen, or the employee no longer works for the organisation. Maybe the FBI changed the password. Apple should be able to retrieve the IP address from their log files unless they use SystemD.

      • by dunkindave ( 1801608 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @10:38PM (#51546347)

        To put this in perspective, that change in password would make anything found on the phone inadmissible in any trial as it indicates the chain of custody was broken.

        And you would fail the bar exam. The password change would allow the opposing side (presumably defense) to challenge the validity and source of whatever information was obtained, but it would still be admitted so that the court (judge and/or jury) can decide how much it should be trusted [wikipedia.org]. Think about a person running from the cops who throws a bag during the chase, and after catching him, go back and find the bag. What they find in the bag is still admissible even though it was out of the suspect's and the police's custody for a period of time. Even if a passerby picked it up and took it, then the police later came and asked if he had it, and he gave it to them, it would still be admissible. The defense would try to argue it could have been tampered with, but would likely lose (barring some evidence of tampering or that the second person had a known grudge against the suspect).

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Neither of the bar exams I took had much in the way of evidence questions, and the few that existed tended to be criminal procedure-related (exclusionary rule and so on), not foundation and authenticity. Even if there were some questions about foundation and authenticity, there certainly weren't enough to cause you to fail the bar exam if you got them wrong. I'm also not convinced you're substantively right. Perhaps your particular jurisdiction allows you to enter prosecution exhibits into evidence without

        • It would render the evidence inadmissible because a chain of custody implies that there was no tampering going on (sealed, signed and locked up) the minute the cops got their hands on it. If you can get a sworn statement from Apple that the Feds altered anything on the phone after the suspect was arrested then the argument would go that they could've planted anything and any lawyer worth their salt would get the evidence thrown out.

          • The data on the phone likely won't be used to charge any individual. Bear in mind that the person who possessed the phone is already dead. The data on the phone is valuable for further investigation, not for an open case.

            • All data on the phone is suspect because it's been altered. From an intelligence perspective (as in CIA) something you found on the phone is corroborated by other sources it might be of value but it as a sole source couldn't be trusted and anything it revealed would need to be corroborated by at least 2 independent sources (it could have been tampered with to make an otherwise single source of data appear more valid).

              But this is the FBI doing the investigation and the only reason they want to look at the "e

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by KGIII ( 973947 )

              I am not a legal scholar but I am a curios onlooker. I've not yet read all the documentation concerning this case and not all of it has come to light.

              However, I have a question. Who, specifically, has been charged with an offense at this time? If the answer is nobody, and if there is no specific defending party - at this time, then by what authority does the court issue this writ?

              I do not know. If they're doing a post-mortem trial, what authority does that have in the US? Have they actually followed the pro

      • by Aighearach ( 97333 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @02:35AM (#51547205) Homepage

        To put this in perspective, that change in password would make anything found on the phone inadmissible in any trial as it indicates the chain of custody was broken.

        No, it was the iCloud password that was changed, not the password for the phone. Had that not been changed, the Apple engineers who were assisting the FBI would likely have been able to get the phone to sync to iCloud, which may or may not have provided evidence, depending on the phone settings.

        Details matter, even when talking about evidence custody chains. ;)

        Also, real world evidence handling is not as strict as represented by the CSI shows, and in this case whatever mishandling was done was not done by the prosecutors. When the prosecutors mishandle evidence, it gets thrown out as a punishment to the prosecutors and a brake on abuse. That is what the "fruit of the poison tree" is all about; punishing prosecutors for ignoring processes and procedures that were put in place to prevent legal abuses that were common in the pre-Constitution period. It is not done out of a broad belief that any evidence that went out of sight after a crime is inadmissible. That would be silly; a murder weapon might change hands numerous times on the black market before being recovered by law enforcement. It is still evidence. In this case some moron from IT at the County level did something bad, not the prosecutors. The person doesn't even work in law enforcement, they work in the health department. The Court isn't going to punish the prosecutors for the mistake of the health worker, so instead the Court would look at if the evidence has a real flaw; is there a reasonable accusation that it was altered, either by the health worker or by Apple? The Court would not worry about a chain of evidence here; that would cover the handling of the evidence after it was collected by law enforcement or prosecutors. This would be before that, so they would look at the material details of any accusation of tampering.

        Also, the user of the phone is dead, and so not a suspect. This would be used against other speculative suspects, and so those people wouldn't be able to ask the court to throw it out based on prosecutorial misconduct that happened before they were a suspect. There wouldn't be anybody with standing to make that complaint. They could only challenge it by a material claim that there was a real problem, not just that the procedure hadn't been followed, unless the failure to follow procedure happened later in the process. This is similar to the situation where the police do a warrantless search of your friend, find evidence against you, but your "friend" refuses to challenge the search. Oops, too bad, you can't challenge it for him, and the evidence will be admitted. That happens a lot in drug cases, actually.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:35PM (#51546045)

      I suppose this is a futile effort here on Slashdot, but maybe perhaps reading the FBI's court brief might answer/allay some of the "smell" of the charade (way to murder a metaphor, m8)

      https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2716011/Apple-iPhone-Access-MOTION-to-COMPEL.txt
      https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2716011/Apple-iPhone-Access-MOTION-to-COMPEL.pdf

      Moreover, contrary to Apple's recent public statement that the
      assistance ordered by the Court “could be used over and over again,
      on any number of devices” and that “[t]he government is asking Apple
      to hack our own users," the Order is tailored for and limited to this
      particular phone. And the Order will facilitate only the FBI's efforts to search the phone; it does not require Apple to conduct the search or access any content on the phone. Nor is compliance with
      the Order a threat to other users of Apple products. Apple may
      maintain custody of the software, destroy it after its purpose under
      the Order has been served, refuse to disseminate it outside of Apple,
      and make clear to the world that it does not apply to other devices
      or users without lawful court orders. As such, compliance with the
      Order presents no danger for any other phone and is not “the
      equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions
      of locks.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Did the FBI agree to let Apple keep custody of the phone while the custom OS is on it? If the FBI gets unsupervised access to the phone -- or even a complete image of its storage, which they probably want -- they would presumably get a copy of the custom OS beyond Apple's reach.

      • by niftymitch ( 1625721 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:56PM (#51546165)

        I suppose this is a futile effort here on Slashdot, but maybe perhaps reading the FBI's court brief might answer/allay some of the "smell" of the charade (way to murder a metaphor, m8)

        https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/2716011/Apple-iPhone-Access-MOTION-to-COMPEL.txt
        https://assets.documentcloud.o... [documentcloud.org]

        Moreover, contrary to Apple's recent public statement that the
        assistance ordered by the Court “could be used over and over again,
        on any number of devices” and that “[t]he government is asking Apple
        to hack our own users," the Order is tailored for and limited to this
        particular phone. .....

        Yesm It is important to note that this court and this writ does not ask for access to all phones
        with a magic key. However it does establish a service that other courts (domestic and
        international) can compel.

        i.e. having demonstrated your ability that this is possible ... we also demand the same service
        in pursuit of the issues before this (different?) court.
        i.e. having demonstrated your ability we demand you price and deliver such a service for
        our internal investigation into suspected illegal affairs by the estranged spouse of, the
        priest accused of, the child suspected of taking a selfie photo that qualifies as child
        pornography.
        Because this is a court order there is only complying.
        It is clear that this is the first phone.... many more cases will demand such a service.

    • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:36PM (#51546049)

      This whole charade smells of the government abusing this one request to make precedent for future requests.

      I have to admit... I've been wondering if this whole charade is related to some sort of parallel reconstruction attempt; as in the NSA has figured out how to break AES 256 but doesn't want to publicize that fact.

  • by He Who Has No Name ( 768306 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:46PM (#51545795)

    They have somebody on the inside to mess with it? Chain of custody for evidence in major federal incidents is usually watertight specifically to avoid this kind of thing.

  • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:48PM (#51545805)
    or just a asshat nutcase? He targeted a place he worked. Back in my day we just called this "Going Postal" and acknowledged that whatever flimsy excuse the shooter used was largely irrelevant. I don't know, but I do hate seeing crap like this scaring the hell out of Americans and making them willing to chunk freedom and demands for better living/working conditions out the door if only someone will please protect us from these terrorists...
    • by He Who Has No Name ( 768306 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:50PM (#51545817)

      There were two shooters, and they had documented terrorism involvement prior to this, once the investigation traced back far enough.

      Most people don't bring their wives with them to help with "random and impulsive" workplace shootings, or set up a bomb factory in their garage weeks / months ahead of time.

      • ...they had documented terrorism involvement prior to this...

        I've heard it claimed that they openly expressed support for ISIS, but I also know that was refuted by the FBI [thehill.com]. I haven't followed this closely, but I've not heard of any other claims directly linking them to a particular terrorist group or terrorist activity, and I can't find any such claims that haven't already been refuted.

        Do you have a source for the above claim?

        • Your link doesn't say what you said. The link says they didn't express support for Jihadists on public facebook. It seems they did it in private messages (which is probably reasonable).
    • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:46PM (#51546109)

      Was this guy really a terrorist? or just a asshat nutcase?

      All terrorists are just asshat nutcases. They are only criminals with guns and bombs and slightly weirder motivations than most other criminals with guns and bombs.

      There is no such thing as a terrorist, as a legal distinction. There are military combatants and there are civilians. If a civilian plants a bomb, he's still a civilian. He's just a criminal civilian. If a civilian shoots a bunch of people with an automatic weapon, he's still a civilian. He's just a criminal civilian. If a civilian gets together with a bunch of his buddies and plants bombs and shoots a bunch of people with automatic weapons, he's still just a civilian.

      We even have a name for that. We call them mobsters.

      Attempting to create terrorism as a legal distinction is stupid twice. Once because you're playing in to their narrative, giving them far more credence than they deserve, and twice because it's being used to foment fear and trample rights here at home. One is cowardly, the other treasonous.

      Taliban, Al Queda, blah blah, these are just mobs. Organized crime. Treat them as such.

      • by rsilvergun ( 571051 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @01:07AM (#51546919)
        And just adding fuel to the fire. Real terrorist have an agenda. They're trying to accomplish something. Asshat nutcases are either mentally ill or financially desperate.

        There's two distinct classes there. You can't do much about the mentally ill except watch out for them and give them what help our science has. For the destitute you can stop oppressing them. We do horrible, horrible things to people in the middle east. We do worse to folks in South America. These people don't hate our freedom, they hate what we've done to them. Isis aren't terrorists. They're a bunch of men with no jobs and no wives. I suspect the shooter in San Bernadino was severely mentally ill.

        Given a chance most people will choose honesty if their brain chemistry allows it. That's why the Mob eventually got busted. Rather than rail on against them as criminals start asking why they turned to crime in the first place. Start getting at root causes and the real social distortions that take what started out as a young boy and turn him into a killer ready to throw it all away.
  • by RY ( 98479 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:53PM (#51545843) Homepage Journal

    Might I suggest Enhanced interrogation for the entire health department, I hear it is still legal.

  • by RichMan ( 8097 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @08:55PM (#51545863)

    So apple can show that the iPhone was tampered with after the government took possession. Well that makes the information on the phone totally suspect.
    That to me shows there is no reason to decrypt the phone as nothing on it can be trusted to be authentic any more.

    For example, highly paranoid version,
    Did the CIA get someone to re-image the phone and plant false information.

  • by RubberDogBone ( 851604 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:31PM (#51546029)

    This phone belonged to the place where this guy worked. So when he murdered a bunch of people, I am sure HR started a process to terminate his network access and revoke his use of things like this phone, in part by changing the passwords.

    He may have died in a shower of bullets but god damn it Sally in HR was gonna cross every T and dot every i on that termination form!

  • Enrique Marguez (Score:5, Informative)

    by Irate Engineer ( 2814313 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @09:38PM (#51546067)

    The FBI arrested the guy that supplied the guns used in the shooting. He is currently charged with providing material support to terrorists, which means they need to find evidence that he provided the weapons with the intent to support this particular attack. Otherwise they probably only can push weapons-related charges.

    As he was buddies with the owner of the iPhone, odds are all they evidence they want against this guy is on that phone.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      He is currently charged with providing material support to terrorists

      Cool, can we charge Senator Peter King with that? He sent money to the IRA to buy semtex explosives from Libya FFS.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_T._King#Support_for_the_IRA
      How about Oliver North, now one of the people running the NRA, who sent weapons to Hezbolla, including anti-tank weapons that were supposed to be too secret to sold to US allies?
      It's really funny to hear both of them go on about terrorism as if they had not been en

  • by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @10:00PM (#51546185)

    http://www.politico.com/f/?id=... [politico.com]

    DOJ filing, page 18, footnote 7.

    (credit: https://twitter.com/grimmelm/s... [twitter.com] on twitter)

  • then why not just ask that employee what they changed it to? Or is it, since it's been changed but this phone hasn't been synced, the security chain is now broken? I've dealt with Airwatch MDM, pushing out updates to iPads, etc...but I don't know the intricacy of IOS security (and apparently, neither does the FBI). I'd hate to be the employee who did this; even if it is "standard protocol" they should have realized that this isn't a "standard employee firing" and should have asked their manager FIRST, wh
    • then why not just ask that employee what they changed it to?

      Exactly. If IT changed the password, they must know the new password.

      • Because they don't want access to this phone. They want a program which would allow them future access to all phones.
      • iCloud password != phone passcode. That's like changing your email password and expecting your ATM card PIN number to change too.

  • by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Friday February 19, 2016 @11:37PM (#51546557) Journal
    "Ownership" is the right to say "No." If Apple can't say no to writing a new way to access their own devices, then they don't own Apple. The FBI is not asking for access. They are asking for a service to be performed.... and not by any one individual... by a company. Last I heard, there is no enlistment right for corporations (yeah, yeah, despite corporate personhood). You can buy something, you can lend something. But if you can't tell someone "no" when they request your services, they own you. And FBI does not own Apple. They are not asking for something which already exists. They asking for work to be performed at their behest. This case is becoming about more than the right to privacy. It's becoming about the right to not be deputized at a judge's pen stroke. If Apple can be compelled to write code because FBI so chooses, then anyone can.
  • Help the FBI out. Write them their little app and let them crack the iPhone. Even though it appears that this is just an exercise in making you jump when the Justice Department whistles.

    Then, go back to the drawing board and, between an OS patch and maybe some more secure hardware, fix it so that your back door program never works on a new phone.

  • 4th Amendment: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized." -- Cornell Legal Information Institute [cornell.edu]

    If the search is reasonable, I'm not seeing the hangup.

    It's nice to have an unbreakable lockbox against anyone, even the NSA

    • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @02:02AM (#51547117) Homepage Journal

      I don't think you've got the issue here quite right. There's a couple reasons to believe that the 4th Amendment is not applicable in this case. The user of the phone is dead, so a lot of his privacy and autonomy interests are nullified now. He has no papers or effects that belong to him because he's a legal non-person. At best you could argue a chilling effect for other iPhone users -- and that's a pretty good argument. But thing this wasn't even his phone, it belonged to his employer. So while I think the 4th should be applied to phones owned or leased by living users, if the employer has no objection to the government searching the phone I don't see how the 4th applies in this case.

      I've heard two serious issues actually raised, namely (1) that what the government is asking Apple to do is bad for the privacy of Apple's customers and (2) that the government has overstepped its authority in what it can compel Apple to do. This isn't a case of Apple sharing documents it has access to with the government, in fact Apple has already done that; the government is in effect asking Apple to develop a new tool that will give it easy access to any iPhone, any time, not just this one.

      Aside from the fact that if Apple did it's job well (what are the chances?) developing this tool should be non-trivial, in absence of some kind of established oversight mechanism for using such toolsk the public shouldn't be too keen on letting the government have them.

  • by El_Muerte_TDS ( 592157 ) on Saturday February 20, 2016 @04:16AM (#51547423) Homepage

    The executives said the company had been in regular discussions with the government since early January, and that it proposed four different ways to recover the information the government is interested in without building a backdoor. One of those methods would have involved connecting the iPhone to a known Wi-Fi network and triggering an iCloud backup that might provide the FBI with information stored to the device between the October 19th and the date of the incident.

    So there are 4 security flaws in the "encrypted" iCloud backups?

"We live, in a very kooky time." -- Herb Blashtfalt

Working...