FBI agrees to help unlock iPhone and iPod involved in Arkansas homicide case

The FBI has now agreed to help unlock an iPhone and an iPod involved in an Arkansas homicide case, mere days after the Bureau was successful in circumventing security measures on an iPhone 5c used by one of the San Bernardino shooters. From The Associated Press:

Faulkner County Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said the FBI agreed to the request from his office and the Conway Police Department Wednesday afternoon. A judge on Tuesday agreed to postpone the trial of 18-year-old Hunter Drexler so prosecutors could ask the FBI for help. Drexler's trial was moved from next week to June 27.

Details surrounding how the FBI plans to gain access to the iPhone and iPod in the case are unclear, but the timing is certainly suspect. And since the unlock method used by the FBI in the high-profile San Bernardino case is still unknown, it's also not clear whether it may be similarly applicable to the iPhone and iPod in the Arkansas case.

In any event, the fact that the FBI has now indicated it can act without Apple's help in two separate instances should be concerning to both the tech giant and those who use its products.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster
  • Sigh...and so it begins. I hope Apple can figure out how they broke in and patch it ASAP
  • Hopefully iOS 10 fixes these exploits that the FBI discovered.
  • pretty sure these phones/ipads are not running 9.3, I wouldn't worry about it too much. Obviously with enough time and access to the device, not to mention Israeli hacking companies working for the FBI, anything can be hacked. To be safe though stay away from becoming a terrorist or committing murder, for now. Assuming thats why your concerned by this news.
  • My friend had her phone looked through at a police station, and all she did to get arrested was drunk driving.
  • "all she did to get arrested was drunk driving"......
  • Well, he's not excusing what she did, but that's not something that requires them to look through your phone. That's the point Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • In that case, Police doesn't need a court order to look through the phone right? This is totally different thing against what are the issue here. Unless you say "FBI assisting police to hack / unlock a phone for a drink and drive offense." And that's what is worrying.
  • Drunk driving is a pretty serious crime. I suspect the police where trying to determine if she was also talking on the phone while she was endangering others. Either way, this girl sounds pretty stupid.
  • It's exactly what Sax said. Andrew was saying to get your phone checked you have to be a terrorists or a murderer, and I was just pointing out the fact that police will check your phone for any reason, even if it's not a valid one.
  • Have a secure passcode enabled. Have TouchID enabled. DON'T accidentally touch the home button to unlock it. And if they tell you to unlock it, say no.
  • Courts have ruled that if asked to unlock via Touch ID, then you have to. They view your finger print for Touch ID as no different than taking your finger prints, or testing your hair for DNA. The only way to protect yourself is to NOT use Touch ID. Police can't legally force you to tell them your password, but they sure can force you to use Touch ID. You're giving bad advice.
  • Cite your source, please. EDIT: Nevermind. Found this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/31/apple-touch-id-ruling_n_6083920... That is a bad ruling, and ripe for being overturned. Providing a fingerprint for Police ID purposes, and providing one as a password are two different uses. I hope someone challenges that soon.
  • I'd be confused at what they were looking for? Did she ask?
  • The cocky cop sat down next to her while he was doing it so she could see him looking through all her photos, his excuse was "evidence if you did this before" but I think he was just being a creeper.
  • He thought she would have pictures of her driving drunk? Yea that's BS.
  • Yeah, he was probably just looking for nudes and abused his power to do so.
  • Well this should be fun, it's going to be a cat and mouse game with the FBI like Apple is with Jailbreakers. Apple will figure out what exploit was used to crack the San Bernadino iPhone and patch it, The FBI will get involved in another case that involves an iPhone/iPod/iPad they will realize they can't use their exploit anymore and then try to haul Apple back to court all over again so they can get access to that particular device :\
  • I'm really not concerned about their ability to do this. As a law abiding member of society and non terrorist, the information on my phone is of little use to any law enforcement agency. I'd be more concerned of them wasting time, resources and tax payers money by them attempting to gain access to my phone. Sent from the iMore App
  • Ah, yes. The "I'm not concerned about government behavior because the people affected by it are different than me."
  • That's not really what I said now, is it? I didn't say I'm not concerned with their ability to do this because I'm different. I meant that I am not concerned because my information is of no use and I doubt they'd want to see it. I was hinting that for the vast majority of people who use their phone to call and text their families and friends, play games or browse online, there's really not much worry of your privacy being invaded. They don't care about your shopping habits, your candy crush addiction or the affair you're having. In relation to these most recent examples, I am different though. One phone was that of a terrorist and the other (correct me if I'm wrong) of a murderer. If there is incite to be gleaned from their phones, why should their privacy be protected? Did they not give up their rights when they committed those crimes? Do you support the privacy of a terrorist? Clearly the pertinent point here is that we should be reasonable. Sent from the iMore App
  • 100% agree. There is nothing on the phone that is either not important or available through a government/bank/ other database.
  • So...innocent people don't require privacy from our benign and always-competent government, and guilty people don't deserve it? Edit: on one thing we agree. I also am unconcerned with the government being able to pry secrets from YOUR phone.
  • "First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me." Sent from the iMore App
  • So you're saying we SHOULD speak out for the terrorists and murderers? Because one day they will come for us?
  • Why look at it through such a narrow scope? Im pretty sure they did not mean terrorists and murders. His saying above was not strictly about encrypted devices and the FBI. It's much broader than that. "They came for the Jews" I'm assuming I don't have to point out who "they" are. Maybe you get pulled over one day. The cop takes you to the police station, confiscates your phone, unlocks it and starts going through it. Are you a murderer? No. Are you a terrorist? No. But to that cop (and you know it happens way more often than it should) you're young and you're black, so you must be involved in gang related activity. It's sadly, in the eyes of law enforcement, a totally (un)justifiable reason. Do you want people to speak for you now? It's about freedom. Innocent until proven guilty. Maybe to prove that guilt they need access to your phone but shouldn't we let the court decide that and not law enforcement officer? The system is structured in a way to protect you. This isn't the wild west. ~TheRealFixxxer
  • I believe we are comparing two completely different scenarios. We are talking about individuals who commit heinous acts versus law abiding citizens. If one has committed a crime or is accused of such it is the responsibility of the law to prove it. If I know I'm innocent and I'm being accused of a crime I'm going to allow anything they need to prove that. Look through my phone. I have nothing to hide. I'm innocent. If I'm found to be guilty that is all the more reason my belongings should be available for search. To ensure that whatever I have to hide isn't something that can continue to harm others. Once we reach a point where cops are kicking down the doors just to search our homes for fun we start the revolt. But that's not what is happening here. We are talking about terrorists and our nations security. So personally, I don't care about a few bad guys privacy right now.
  • Hmmm.... "Not in my (digital) backyard." Sent from the iMore App
  • I'd be curious to know how many millions of dollars we all spent on the San Bernadino phone, between forensics and lawsuits and outside hires and whatnot. Then I'd like to know exactly what was the value of the information gleaned from this phone which the owners didn't even deem important enough to erase, unlike the rest of their phones. I'm guessing we got a pretty poor return on our investment.
  • Exactly!! People seem to forget that they destroyed their own phones and left the local government phone alone. People who plan and plan somethings like out don't just forget to destroy evidence when they have already destroyed other potential evidence. Just another example of fraud, waste, and abuse with our money. Sent from the iMore App
  • I'm guessing when someone murders your family, you will be just as concerned with how efficient investigators are at spending public money?
  • Is it your opinion that we should spend whatever it takes to solve every crime? What would you like to achieve regarding this one? There is no dispute about who did it, and they're already dead. Is it worth unknown millions of dollars to maybe, possibly, have some idea as to why? Will that bring back the victims? It's the TSA all over again. They're spending our money on security theater.
  • you are 100% sure that everyone involved in this case is accounted for? Care to share your source for such inside information?
  • I ask again. Is it your opinion that we should spend whatever it takes to solve every crime?
  • The FBI has a fixed budget approved every year. If they aren't spending that entire budget on solving crimes, then I have issues. Just curious, how much do you think the FBI should spend on a case before giving up? $50?
  • Fixed budget. My point, exactly. How many hundreds of simpler cases will they not be able to work on, due to the cost of this one? Will your family be one of those?
  • So your answer is the FBI should only spend about $50 per case? Where is the rest of the money going towards, vacations and spa visits?
  • Nowhere have I said what the FBI should do. I simply asked how much of your money and mine has been spent on this case, and what was the value of the result. Just curious, though. Are you under the impression that millions divided by hundreds equals 50?
  • you haven't answered any of my questions. All you seem to be doing is sticking your head in the sand over this. You can't have it both ways, so how much should the FBI spend per case? Clearly you have a limit in mind, what is it?
  • Which both ways? For that matter, which one way? I have no opinion as to what FBI policy should be. I simply asked a question.
  • I'm glad the FBI has an exploit. If my family member got killed I definitely would want the person to get prosecuted and I wouldn't want a phone getting in the way of things. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • How are they going to prosecute the dead perpetrators?
  • Well they could get answers that the suffering family might want. Or maybe we understood each other wrong... I'm talking prosecuting the killers. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • The killers in this case are dead. Good luck prosecuting them.
  • Well this is expected as everyone knows Iphones are insecure with tons of YouTube videos showing how to bypass the lockscreen for years. Even my friend had his unlocked while he was asleep with the person using his finger ID. Also, I once found an iPhone on the bus here in London and after trying to unlock it a few times, it would ask me to wait for some time before trying again. Then all of a sudden on a retry it just unlocked. I was then able to do it multiple times, get them owners number and call then return the phone calling a contact as the sim card had been deactivated already. Nothing beats a proper alphanumeric password or picture password that BlackBerry has on its phones. No amount of shoulder surfing or watching me use it can guess the password. And this includes the BlackBerry Priv. After a set number of tries and everything is deleted. And thanks to BlackBerry Protect or Android Device Management on the Priv, the phone cannot be used again unless you sign in with the user id used before the wipe. I think I'll stick to BlackBerry. Posted via the iMore App for Android