FBI will help hack iPhone in murder case after cracking Apple encryption
April 1, 2016
Shah Sheikh (1294 articles)

FBI will help hack iPhone in murder case after cracking Apple encryption

The FBI has agreed to help prosecutors in a murder case hack into a suspect’s iPhone just days after the agency ended a legal standoff with Apple by announcing it had cracked the encryption on a known terrorist’s phone.

The FBI has declined to tell the tech giant how it managed to access the iPhone 5c of Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino attackers, and appears prepared to attempt to duplicate the process in other cases.

Requests for assistance have come in from local authorities around the country who believe data stored on the iPhones of victims or suspects could be crucial to their investigations.

The FBI has now granted one such request, from prosecutors in Arkansas who asked for help accessing the iPhone of a teenager charged in a double homicide.

Syed Farook Tashfeen Malik
Syed Farook with wife and fellow attacker Tashfeen Malik CREDIT: US CUSTOMS AND BORDER PROTECTION

The device belongs to Hunter Drexler, 18, who – along with three other teens – stands accused of murdering Robert and Patricia Cogdell at the couple’s home.

Prosecutors would also like help unlocking the iPod of Justin Staton, 15, the Cogdell’s grandson and another suspect in their murder.

Cody Hiland, the  prosecuting attorney,  said the requests were made shortly after the FBI revealed it had hacked into Farook’s phone.

“Obviously when we heard that they had been able to crack that phone we wanted to at least ask and see if they wanted to help,” he said on Thursday.

The trial of  Drexler was postponed to give authorities time to hack into his iPhone 6.

The process by which the FBI gained access to Farook’s phone was highly secretive, and the agency has not said whether the same method could be use in this case and others.

Apple, meanwhile, is looking into legal steps by which the FBI would be compelled to tell the company how it managed to circumvent the security measures on Farook’s phone.