If the iPhone of the San Bernadino shooters is locked, how would it even be possible for Apple to acquiesce to the FBI's request for them to unlock the phone? Does that mean Apple has some kind of "back door" that would let them into any phone? Wouldn't a locked phone theoretically be secured from access by anyone who doesn't have the password, including the manufacturer?

  • 3
    This has been covered repeatedly in the news and on this board. security.stackexchange.com/search?q=iphone+fbi Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:46
  • I disagree. All those I've seen so far talk about modifying iOS going forward to add a back door. How does that help retrospectively? They can't apply that to the shooters phone.
    – rory.ap
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:49
  • 1
    @roryap The short version of the FBI's plan is to modify iOS, install that on the shooter's phone, and then unlock it. All the links above cover this.
    – Matthew
    Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:57
  • They can push the new firmware to the shooter's phone without erasing the data. Commented Mar 2, 2016 at 21:57
  • 1
    Thanks all. Some interesting reading to be sure. I'm sorry I pulled a "new users" and didn't do my due research. I should know better given my participation level on stack overflow.
    – rory.ap
    Commented Mar 3, 2016 at 16:16

1 Answer 1


Apple would have to develop a version of iOS that bypasses delays in passcode entries and disables the setting which deletes the phone's data after the 10th failed attempt. The phone would then be brute forced. FBI would also like to enter passcode through a connection to the phone rather than the current UI.

Apple would then most likely load this onto the phone using a tool referred to as PurpleRestore. This is the best guess as to how they would load a new version of iOS without unlocking the phone.

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