FBI Unlocked Another iPhone 11, Needed Almost 2 Months to Do So
FBI took almost two months to unlock an iPhone 11, owned by Lev Parnas, an associate of Rudy Giuliani. This is the second iPhone 11 that has been confirmed via legal documents to have been unlocked by the FBI.
As per Bloomberg, Parnas' lawyer accused the Justice Department of delaying the handover of data extracted from the iPhone 11, which delayed his ability to comply with requests from a congressional committee.
“First, Parnas declined to provide the password to his devices, which is of course his right, but which required the FBI to spend nearly two months unlocking the iPhone 11,” the government said in a letter to the U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken in Manhattan.
The letter goes on to say that the FBI is still trying to unlock other password-protected devices owned by Parnas. It is unclear if these devices are iPhones or other devices.
Parnas is under investigation for illegally funnelling foreign money into U.S. elections. His iPhone and other documents were subpoenaed by the House committee that is investigating Donald Trump.
This latest turn of events puts into question the FBI's request to Apple to help unlock Florida shooter's iPhones. The FBI had also recently unlocked an iPhone 11 Pro Max using GrayKey. The two iPhones that were seized from the Florida shooter are older models and should theoretically be easier to unlock when compared to the latest devices. FBI's request was followed by an accusation by the United States Attorney General Barr that Apple has not helped with the investigation at all. Trump also tweeted on the issue, asking Apple to step up and help unlock the phones.
As usual, Apple refused to help unlock any iPhone or create a backdoor. The company's stance is that any backdoor created for the good guys will eventually fall in the hands of the bad guys, which might leave 1 billion iOS devices unprotected from hackers. Apple also clarified its position on the on-going investigation that it has handed over all evidence that it could provide for the Florida shooter. Considering that Apple has not implemented end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, the company would have provided a lot of important information to the FBI.
Apple has not publicly commented on the reports of the FBI unlocking iPhone 11. Whether these devices had USB Restricted Mode disabled, or has the FBI been taking advantage of a new undisclosed vulnerability in iOS is yet to be confirmed.