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DOJ FBIs battle with Apple over iPhone security could have been avoided

Issued: 2018-03-30

A new report from the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) reveals that the FBI’s dispute with Apple over a locked iPhone may have been all for naught. If you recall, the FBI in late 2015 came into possession of a locked iPhone 5c belonging to one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Unable to access the device — as it was secured by a passcode — the FBI flat-out demanded Apple create a custom version of iOS to make things easier for them, a demand Apple steadfastly refused.

Following a highly publicized legal battle, the FBI ultimately managed to access the device via the help of a third-party. The OIG report, interestingly enough, now reveals that the FBI didn’t exhaust all of its options before it went looking for a solution from Apple.

What’s more, the 17-page report reveals that there was something of a disconnect between the FBI’s Cryptographic and Electronic Analysis Unit (CEAU) and the FBI Operational Technology Division (OTD).

According to the CEAU Chief, his unit did not ask CEAU’s partners to check with their outside vendors. CEAU was only interested in knowing what their partners had in hand – indicating that checking with “everybody” did not include OTD’s trusted vendors, at least in the CEAU Chief’s mind. However, we believe CEAU should have checked with OTD’s trusted vendors for possible solutions before advising OTD management, FBI leadership, or the USAO that there was no other technical alternative and that compelling Apple’s assistance was necessary to search the Farook iPhone. – READ MORE

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