FBI Still Can't Crack Terror Couple's Codes

Some lawmakers say it's time for tech firms to open backdoors
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 21, 2016 4:15 AM CST
FBI Still Can't Crack Terror Couple's Codes
This July 27, 2014, photo provided by US Customs and Border Protection shows Tashfeen Malik, left, and her husband, Syed Farook, as they passed through O'Hare International Airport in Chicago.   (US Customs and Border Protection via AP, File)

The secrets on the phones and hard drive of the San Bernardino shooters, possibly including the names of accomplices or plans for further attacks, may never be unlocked, officials say. David Bowdich, the assistant director in charge of the FBI's Los Angeles field office, tells Fox News that the cellphones of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik are highly encrypted and the couple tried to destroy them. Other sources say FBI investigators still haven't found a missing hard drive. "The digital footprint is incredibly important for us to hopefully learn any contacts, any context, and ultimately any intent on their part," Bowdich says.

Experts tell Fox that the failure to extract information from the couple's devices will give lawmakers another reason to demand that tech firms give law enforcement a "backdoor" to smartphones and other devices, though it's not clear whether such a move would do much to thwart terrorists. Adding backdoors "increases the complexity and adds unintended vulnerabilities to everyone's mobile devices, warns the CEO of software firm Tenable Network Security, adding that while some terror groups use the best encryption available, others have very poor security. (Investigators are still trying to figure out where Farook and Malik were during a crucial 18-minute period.)

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