Posts Tagged ‘Syed Farook’

That iPhone the FBI (Israelis) cracked – “contains nothing of significance”

April 15, 2016

Much ado …. full of sound and fury … signifying nothing.

So, Syed Farook’s iPhone that Apple refused to unlock, which the FBI took Apple to court for, which was finally cracked by an Israeli company working for the FBI, contained nothing of any significance. Still, I suppose the FBI and Apple (and the Israeli security company Cellebrite) have all had their time strutting and fretting on the stage, and all publicity is good publicity.

But the FBI come out of this looking petty and silly.

CBS News: 

A law enforcement source tells CBS News that so far nothing of real significance has been found on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone, which was unlocked by the FBI last month without the help of Apple.

It was stressed that the FBI continues to analyze the information on the cellphone seized in the investigation, senior investigative producer Pat Milton reports. Investigators spent months trying to gain access to data on the locked iPhone used by San Bernardino gunman Syed Rizwan Farook, believing that it might hold information on the plans or contacts of the attackers, who killed 14 people on December 2, 2015.

Apple was fighting a court order to assist the FBI in bypassing the phone’s security measures. On March 28, the FBI announced that it had managed to unlock the phone and was dropping the court fight with Apple.

The FBI has not disclosed what method it used to access the data on the iPhone but the method is believed to have been developed by a third party, a private entity, the government has refused to identify.

FBI Director James Comey said last week that the bureau has not decided whether to share details with Apple about how it hacked into Farook’s iPhone 5c. “If we tell Apple, they’re going to fix it and we’re back where we started,” Comey said. “As silly as it may sound, we may end up there. We just haven’t decided yet.”

As The Register points out the FBI were more interested in attacking Apple and actually did not expect to find anything. They probably always knew that Cellebrite could get into the phone but dinät reveal that to support their position in court:

The news will not come as much of a surprise to anyone who has followed the case: the phone in question was one of three used by Farook. It was his work phone and was owned by his employer, the health department.

His two personal phones were found by investigators, crushed and dumped in a trash can at his house. Since Farook had clearly gone to some trouble to destroy any digital evidence (he also smashed up hard drives and other digital media), the fact that the iPhone in question was recovered intact made it highly unlikely that it held anything of real value.

Regardless, the FBI used the existence of the phone and the shocking nature of the crime to wage a public war with Apple over encryption and access to electronic goods. Having mistakenly caused the phone’s cloud storage to be reset (some doubt it was a mistake), the FBI applied through the courts to force Apple to develop a way for it to pull all the information of the phone.

The court served an injunction but Apple refuse to honor it, claiming that the request effectively obliged it to break its own product’s security and would have implications far beyond the single phone.

Following a very public spat in which Apple refused to back down, and voices in Washington starting to criticize the FBI for trying to seek a legal precedent rather than solve a crime, the day before a legal hearing on the matter, the FBI suddenly announced it had found a third party that was able to grant it access to the phone’s data.


A change of ISIS tactics? Now couples as terrorist kill teams?

December 4, 2015

It is just being reported that Tashfeen Malik, the female half of the San Bernardino, death squad had sworn allegiance to ISIS (Da’esh), but that it was not clear if the couple were self-radicalised and acting by themselves or were acting on the orders of someone else.

That may be a question that will never get answered. But it raises the spectre of the pair having been “placed” there with some general instructions to raise mayhem either on being triggered or, even at their own initiative. We have become used to the use of female suicide bombers, some of them also mothers. We have seen young children being desensitised to deadly violence by playing assassin games but with real live prisoners. The use of young children as human shields or – as perhaps in California – as camouflage is not something that would cause any moral distress to Da’esh. It could even be that the pair were advised to have a young child just for that purpose.

The use of a husband-wife team, put in place as a “sleeping” killer squad, would represent a new tactic. Single, young men are too obvious and attract attention. A “family man” and a “young mother” carry a protective shroud of innocence. And if they are pushing a stroller or carrying a baby in a child-seat in a car, they would be far down the list of suspicious looking people. That the mother in this case had few qualms of abandoning her 6-month old baby may be shocking, but I am no longer surprised at any behaviour of jihadists who have worked themselves up into a religious fervour.

For the US, I think it now raises the possibility that there may be many such husband-wife kill teams in place all over the country. They may not even have travelled to Saudi Arabia (though a visit to Saudi and a return with a fiancee is likely to raise automatic red flags), as the NYT reports:

NYT: …. The F.B.I. refocused its efforts on these individuals earlier this year in response to a shift in tactics by the Islamic State, law enforcement officials said. Instead of trying to persuade Americans to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State, the group began calling on its sympathizers and followers in the United States to commit acts of violence at home.

“We’ve especially focused on the portfolio of people we’re investigating for the potential of being homegrown violent extremists,” the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said last month at a news conference. “That is, people consuming the propaganda. So those investigations are designed to figure out where are they on the spectrum from consuming to acting.” …….

…… In the days leading up to the shooting, the couple in San Bernardino took several steps to delete their electronic information, in an apparent effort to cover their tracks, officials said. Those efforts have led authorities to believe that the shooting was premeditated.

Islamic terrorists have used the oath of allegiance, called a bayat, to declare their loyalty to specific groups and leaders. To become a member of Al Qaeda, for instance, terrorists historically swore their devotion to Osama bin Laden.

Ms. Malik, 27, was born in Pakistan and traveled on a Pakistani passport, but had recently lived in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Farook, 28, was a United States citizen, born in Illinois, whose parents were from Pakistan. ….. 

Just visiting a jihadist site is now likely to raise a flag and be tagged. But a sliver lining here is that ISIS is rapidly running out of tactics to use. Fourteen innocent people were massacred here but I see little benefit actually accruing to ISIS.

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