FBI Unlocking the Terrorist Phone, a Thought Experiment

FBI Unlocking the Terrorist Phone, a Thought Experiment

March 28, 2016 20:52 EST • Alexandre Vallières-Lagacé • 2 minute read

The FBI has dropped the case against forcing Apple to write a backdoored version of iOS for Farouz’s iPhone. They managed to get in.

Of course, the joke is that they tried 1234 and it worked. But what if the truth is not far?

We know social engineering is the most effective way to hack computers and mobile devices. What if with the help of a security company they simply asked for a list of 100 answers to personal questions and calculated the possibilities of passcode in relation to Farouz’s personal data. Dates, names, addresses, car licenses, and a ton more information.

They probably already have access to his other accounts, and passwords so they know the kind of patterns he used to secure his accounts. Did he have a house security system? Perhaps he used the same code or a similar one. In short, the investigation and the NSA probably already had all the right data on hand and only needed to process it right to extract the most probable passcode combinations.

Then it’s only a matter of trying the most likely passcodes a few times, then waiting a few hours. It could be a tedious process but not at all impossible. And given the “one week or two” they requested to the court they probably has the right data and it took less than 2 weeks to get to it.

Remember that an FBI consultant worked on Mr. Robot and used similar techniques, but he had to fish the information over the phone.

This, I think, is the most logical way all this went for the FBI.

📷 Photo by Marc-André Julien