Now We Know Who Unlocked San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

It was Australian firm Azimuth
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 15, 2021 4:00 AM CDT
Updated Apr 18, 2021 12:00 PM CDT
We Now Know Who Unlocked San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone
This undated combination of file photos provided by the FBI, left, and the California Department of Motor Vehicles shows San Bernardino shooting suspects Tashfeen Malik, left, and Syed Farook.   (FBI, left, and California Department of Motor Vehicles via AP, File)

Five years later, we finally know how the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone was unlocked. The FBI wanted to get into the iPhone 5C used by Syed Rizwan Farook, who, along with his wife Tashfeen Malik killed 14 people in a mass shooting at a company holiday party in December 2015 before being shot dead by police. But Apple refused to help, believing that doing so could weaken security, creating a back door into phones that could be exploited for misdeeds. The FBI first tried to get a court order to force Apple to assist, then backed down because it had found another way. Turns out it was a small Australian company, Azimuth, that came to the agency's aid, the Washington Post reports. Apple itself did not know which company had helped.

The Post interviewed several people close to the situation to tell the story of how Azimuth "white hat" hackers broke into the phone, and Motherboard later confirmed the report. The Verge sums it up thusly: "Azimuth basically found a way to guess the passcode as many times as it wanted without erasing the phone, allowing the bureau to get into the phone in a matter of hours." Ultimately, no relevant information was found on the phone. None of the involved entities, from Azimuth to Apple to the FBI, have commented on the new reports. (More San Bernardino shooting stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.