HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Main » Editorials & Other Articles (Forum) » The little company that b...

Wed Apr 14, 2021, 09:19 PM

The little company that broke into a Terrorists iPhone 5C

The FBI wanted to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone. It turned to a little-known Australian firm.

The iPhone used by a terrorist in the San Bernardino shooting was unlocked by a small Australian hacking firm in 2016, ending a momentous standoff between the U.S. government and the tech titan Apple.

The tale of the unlocking of the terrorist’s iPhone, reconstructed through Washington Post interviews with several people close to the situation, shines a light on a hidden world of bug hunters and their often-fraught relationship with the creator of the devices whose flaws they uncover. Azimuth is a poster child for “white hat” hacking, experts say, which is good-guy cybersecurity research that aims to disclose flaws and disavows authoritarian governments.

Two Azimuth hackers teamed up to break into the San Bernardino iPhone, according to the people familiar with the matter, who like others quoted in this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive matters. Founder Mark Dowd, 41, is an Australian coder who runs marathons and who, one colleague said, “can pretty much look at a computer and break into it.” One of his researchers was David Wang, who first set hands on a keyboard at age 8, dropped out of Yale, and by 27 had won a prestigious Pwnie Award — an Oscar for hackers — for “jailbreaking” or removing the software restrictions of an iPhone.

FBI officials were relieved but also somewhat disappointed, according to people familiar with the matter. They knew they were losing an opportunity to have a judge bring legal clarity to a long-running debate over whether the government may compel a company to break its own encryption for law enforcement purposes.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/technology/2021/04/14/azimuth-san-bernardino-apple-iphone-fbi/

3 replies, 1014 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 3 replies Author Time Post
Reply The little company that broke into a Terrorists iPhone 5C (Original post)
underpants Apr 14 OP
mahatmakanejeeves Apr 15 #1
underpants Apr 16 #3
dalton99a Apr 15 #2

Response to underpants (Original post)

Thu Apr 15, 2021, 07:26 PM

1. Thanks. I read the article in the physical Washington Post this afternoon.

I came here to post it, but a search showed that you had done so already.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to mahatmakanejeeves (Reply #1)

Fri Apr 16, 2021, 10:12 AM

3. Really good article. Good reporting

Following up on a story those outside the tech legal and ethics world probably forgot about. I know o did.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to underpants (Original post)

Thu Apr 15, 2021, 08:37 PM

2. Kick

Two months after the attack, Comey testified to Congress that investigators were still unable to unlock the terrorist’s iPhone. Seeing the media reports, Dowd realized he might have a way to help. Around that time, the FBI contacted him in Sydney. He turned to 30-year-old Wang, who specialized in exploits on iOS, the people said.

Using the flaw Dowd found, Wang, based in Portland, Ore., created an exploit that enabled initial access to the phone — a foot in the door. Then he hitched it to another exploit that permitted greater maneuverability, according to the people. And then he linked that to a final exploit that another Azimuth researcher had already created for iPhones, giving him full control over the phone’s core processor — the brains of the device. From there, he wrote software that rapidly tried all combinations of the passcode, bypassing other features, such as the one that erased data after 10 incorrect tries.

Wang and Dowd tested the solution on about a dozen iPhone 5Cs, including some bought on eBay, the people said. It worked. Wang dubbed the exploit chain “Condor.”

In mid-March, Azimuth demonstrated the solution at FBI headquarters, showing Comey and other leaders how Condor could unlock an iPhone 5C. Then, one weekend, the FBI lab did a series of forensic tests to be sure it would work without destroying data. The tests were all successful, according to the people. The FBI paid the vendor $900,000, according to remarks by Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) in May 2017.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread