Yes, FBI Director James Comey admitted that the investigators made a “mistake” with the San Bernardino investigation during a congressional hearing held by the House Judiciary Committee.
Apple is facing a court order to help the FBI unlock an iPhone belonged to San Bernardino Shooter by developing a backdoored version of iOS that can disable the security feature on the locked iPhone.
Apple’s Chief Executive Tim Cook has maintained his stand over Privacy and Security, saying the company will fight the court order because it is dangerous for the security and privacy of all of its users.
As the company earlier said, Apple had been helping the FBI with the investigation in San Bernardino case since early January by providing an iCloud backup of Farook’s iPhone under a court order and ways to access Farook’s iPhone…
…but the problem, according to Apple, was that the feds approached the company after attempting a ‘blunder‘ themselves.
Just after the San Bernardino terrorist attacks, an unnamed local police official ‘Reset the Apple ID Passcode‘ associated with the shooter’s iPhone 5C in “less than 24 hours after the government took possession of the device” in an attempt to access the data.
When the feds approached Apple to help them brute force the passcode without losing data, the company suggested the FBI an alternative way, i.e.:
Connect Farook’s iPhone to the Internet by taking it to a known Wi-Fi range. This way his iPhone would have automatically backed up device data with his iCloud Account.
FBI Director: It was a ‘Mistake’ to Reset iCloud Password
However, when one of the committee members asked Comey about whether the iPhone had its iCloud password changed, preventing the phone from backing up to accessible Apple servers.
Comey was forced to admit that the iCloud password was changed at the FBI’s request, calling it a “mistake.” Though the FBI previously stated that changing the iCloud password was not a screw-up.
“As I understand from the experts, there was a mistake made in that 24 hours after the attack where the [San Bernardino] county at the FBI’s request took steps that made it hard—impossible—later to cause the phone to back up again to the iCloud,” Comey said in testimony.
FBI Asked NSA to Unlock iPhone, But NSA couldn’t Do it
This was not the only difficult question Comey fielded in the hearing. Comey was also asked how many other federal agencies the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) had asked for help.
Apple itself asked the FBI similar question last week: If the FBI wants to hack an iPhone, why doesn’t it just ask the NSA?
Comey replied that people who watch too much television exaggerated the technical capabilities of federal agencies. He did directly respond to a question about whether the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) helped.
His answer was pretty clear: No, the NSA could not do it.
Here’s what Rep. Judy Chu, Democrat of California asked Comey during the hearing on “The Encryption Tightrope: Balancing Americans’ Security and Privacy”:
I’d like to ask about law enforcement finding technical solutions….Has the FBI pursued these other methods tried to get help from within the federal government, such as from agencies like the NSA?
Here’s the response from Comey:
Yes is the answer. We’ve talked to anybody who will talk with us about it, and I welcome additional suggestions.
From the beginning, the members of the House Judiciary Committee indicated a strong disapproval of the FBI’s actions in the San Bernardino case. Rep. Conyers, a ranking member of the committee, noted that he has long opposed mandating backdoors in a service.