The United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation has unlocked the iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters without the help of its maker Apple, which had refused to participate in the probe. The US justice department said the court case with the tech giant has ended, while officials said they had asked for the order, which had directed Apple to develop a software to access Syed Rizwan Farook’s phone, to be withdrawn, BBC reported.
Top federal prosecutor in California Eileen Decker said in a statement on Monday that “a third party” had helped investigators unlock the iPhone, without specifying who that was. Last week, prosecutors said “an outside party” had shown them a possible way of unlocking the iPhone without Apple’s intervention, following which the company said it hoped the government would share any vulnerabilities of the iPhone they may find.
According to the BBC, an Israeli newspaper had reported last week that data forensics experts at Israeli cybersecurity firm Cellebrite were involved in the case. While Cellebrite admitted to the BBC that it works with the FBI, it did not reveal more. However, its website claims it has a tool that can extract and decode data from locked handsets, including the iPhone 5C, which was the model Farook used.
In December 2015, Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik had killed 14 people and injured several others in San Bernardino, California. Malik had reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State on social media on the day of the shooting. Apple had been fighting a court order requiring it to create a backdoor to the iPhone, saying it posed a major threat if it fell in the wrong hands. Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft had come out in support of Apple in its court battle against the FBI.