The FBI is trying to crack another locked iPhone

The FBI is squaring off against another locked iPhone, as first reported by Wired. The phone belongs to Dahir Adan, a private security firm employee who stabbed ten at a Minnesota mall this September. Adan was shot and killed by police during the attack, but FBI agents are looking to his phone for clues as to his motives and whether he might have communicated with ISIS representatives prior to the attack.

The situation is a clear echo of the San Bernardino case earlier this year, which saw the FBI seeking Apple’s help in unlocking an iPhone belonging to one of the killers. Since the phone was locked, the FBI sought to compel the creation and deployment of a security-breaking version of iOS specifically to the killer’s phone. After a number of court filings, the FBI abruptly withdrew its request, having located and purchased a third-party method of unlocking the phone.

It’s still unclear whether the FBI will try to compel Apple to unlock the phone, but the bureau has not ruled it out. "We are in the process of assessing our legal and technical options to gain access to this device and the data it may contain," said FBI special agent Rich Thornton in a press conference yesterday.

It’s also unclear what model of iPhone the FBI is approaching. If it’s an iPhone 5c or earlier, the FBI could plausibly use the purchased method or more recently discovered NAND mirroring tactics to decrypt the phone without Apple’s assistance. Adan was reportedly on his way to purchase an iPhone 7 when the attack took place.


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