FBI Reportedly Gained Access to iPhone Used by Mass Shooter in Florida After Apple Refused to Help

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FBI officials have somehow managed to unlock at least one of two passcode-protected iPhones owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the perpetrator of a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last December, according to CNN.


Apple provided the FBI with iCloud data belonging to Alshamrani, but it refused to assist investigators with gaining access to the iPhones. In a statement earlier this year, the company said that while it was “devastated to learn of the tragic terrorist attack” at the Naval Air Station, creating a backdoor into iOS would pose a national security threat.

We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We feel strongly encryption is vital to protecting our country and our users’ data.

Alshamrani owned an iPhone 7 and an iPhone 5, according to The New York Times.

Apple faced a similar situation in 2016, when a U.S. federal judge ordered the company to help the FBI unlock an iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino, California. Apple opposed the order, noting that it would set a “dangerous precedent.” In that case, the FBI also found a way to access the iPhone, although the method was never publicly disclosed.

Last week, exploit acquisition platform Zerodium announced that it would not be purchasing any iOS exploits for a few months due to a high number of submissions, noting that there are at least a few persistent security vulnerabilities affecting all iPhones and iPads. “Let’s hope iOS 14 will be better,” said Zerodium CEO Chaouki Bekrar.

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