So, Was The Data Retrieved By The FBI From The Hacked iPhone Useful?
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has publicly declared that right after retrieving data from a particular iPhone 5c owned by terrorist Syed Farook who is being investigated in connection with the San Bernardino attacks that happened in December of last year, it is now putting it to use, as reported by the New York Times. But some are now wondering if the obtained data really was critical in the first place. During a privacy conference held this week, James Baker, the general counsel of the FBI, has hinted that the agency is still working it out.
FBI’s effort to hack into Farook’s iPhone 5c unit has caused a feud between the agency and Apple, who refused to modify its iOS software in order to allow the FBI to bypass the iPhone’s security measures. The FBI had a judge order the iPhone maker to comply with the request, but before Apple could do so, the agency joined forces with a third party in order to unlock the iPhone without Apple’s help.
Not only did the feud made its way to a few headlines, it also launched (or relaunched) a debate over the advantages and disadvantages of encrypting data on mobile devices, as well as discussions on the types of encryption methods available today and their role in striking a balance between protecting the individual’s privacy and ensuring the security of the whole nation.
Apple’s argument centered on the dangers of creating a backdoor hack that could be used by criminals in compromising the security of iPhone users everywhere. As for the FBI, it was about getting the bad guys and bringing them to justice. But was the data retrieved from Farook’s iPhone 5c meaningful in that regard? Obviously, because the investigation is still ongoing, nobody knows yet how significant the obtained information was. Baker certainly thinks it was worth it, stating that by doing what the FBI did, it had made sure it had expended every effort in trying to catch the perpetrators of the San Bernardino attacks, and hopefully, prevent similar attacks from happening in the future.
Until now, the FBI has not yet revealed to Apple exactly how Farook’s iPhone 5c was unlocked. Moreover, Baker has not also made clear if the information retrieved from the smartphone will be revealed to the general public, stating only that any data will be disclosed if and when it is deemed appropriate by the agency.