Los Angeles Police Department easily unlocked an iPhone 5s of iPhone of slain wife of ‘Shield’ actor when FBI said it couldn’t access 5c
Even as the entire world going nuts over FBI’s request to Apple for unlocking the iPhone belonging to According to an LA Times report, LAPD detectives quietly hacked into a locked iPhone 5s despite the phone having a keycode.
While the whole world questioned the intentions of US authorities in asking Apple to unlock iPhone 5c belonging to the San Bernardino shooter, LAPD was able to quietly hack the elder sibling, iPhone 5s without any help from Apple.
Los Angeles police investigators have discovered a workable method to bypass the hardened security features of a locked iPhone 5s belonging to the slain wife of “The Shield” actor Michael Jace, according to the court papers reviewed by The LA Times.
Michael Jace is accused of shooting and killing his wife April Jace at their South L.A. home in 2014 on May 19, 2014. Investigators say that the actor and wife argued “about their relationship” via text message shortly before he opened fire. The police wanted to access the phone to determine whether or not this was the case.
LAPD Detective Connie Zych wrote that on March 18, the department found a “forensic cellphone expert” who could “override the locked iPhone function,” as per the search warrant filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
What is more interesting is that this appears to have occurred during the time that the FBI was demanding Apple unlock the earlier model iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook. In that high-profile case, the FBI finally unlocked the phone with the help of professional hackers, paying them up to $1 million for a tool exploiting security vulnerability. The FBI had not withdrawn court proceedings against Apple until March 28.
According to the warrant, a senior investigator with the district attorney’s office was able to examine the phone in April, as was Jace’s private cellphone expert.
The search warrant did not detail the method used by the LAPD to open the phone, nor did police disclose the identity of the cellphone expert, nor the version of iOS installed on the phone used by April Lace. However, it raises questions about why the FBI was still insisting in the San Bernardino case that it could not access the iPhone 5c, which does not have a Secure Enclave and should be less challenging to hack without Apple’s help.
The FBI, which later managed to access the 5c without Apple’s help, said that the method only worked on a limited number of iPhones. It apparently cannot be used on any new iPhone, and it cannot be used on the iPhone 5s.
It is unclear whether the phone offered any significant information. On the other hand, Michael Jace is currently awaiting trial.
Apple has been staunchly opposed to hacking iPhones, or creating a security backdoor for law enforcement officials, on account of the fact that it would set a dangerous precedent with regards to privacy.