Court documents have revealed that a US federal magistrate has told Apple to assist the FBI in their investigation of the San Bernardino terrorist attack, ordering them to unlock the iPhone obtained at the crime scene.
Apple CEO Tim Cook has addressed the US government’s unprecedented move in an open letter posted to Apple’s official site, which you can read more about here, but the court documents go into greater detail in regards to what the US government expects of Apple.
Filed on February 6th, 2016, the documents reveal that the United States District Court for the Central District of California requested that Apple provide the FBI with assistance in unlocking “an Apple iPhone seized during the execution of a search warrant on a Black Lexus IS300,” with the court’s demands leading to Cook stating that the US government was effectively telling Apple to “hack its own users.”
Among the orders handed out by the court was the demand that Apple “will enable the FBI to submit passcodes to the [iPhone] for testing electronically via the physical device port, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or other protocol available,” adding that “when the FBI submits passcodes to the [iPhone], software running on the device will not purposefully introduce any additional delay between passcode attempts beyond what is incurred by Apple hardware.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook (Image Credit: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images)
Apple currently employs a system in iOS wherein devices are made more difficult to unlock due to delays Apple imposes in its software, which make it incredibly difficult for users to guess passcodes. Apple has previously stated that this delay ensures that attempting to guess each possible passcode for the device would take five-and-a-half years, though the court has demanded that Apple provides a workaround for the FBI to drastically reduce this amount of time.
The court also ordered that Apple’s technical assistance should include, “but is not limited to,” providing the US government “with remote access to the [iPhone] through a computer allowing the government to conduct recovery analysis.”
Cook responded to the court’s demands in his open letter, stating that he would not provide them with an iOS backdoor as it would “undermine decades of security advancements.”