Apple just dropped a bombshell about the FBI's ongoing investigation of the iPhone that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook.
During a conference call with reporters on Friday afternoon, Apple executives who requested anonymity revealed that the Apple ID password associated with the recovered iPhone in the case had been changed "less than 24 hours after the government took possession of the device," reports BuzzFeed News.
Here's more from BuzzFeed News:
The executives said the company had been in regular discussions with the government since early January, and that it proposed four different ways to recover the information the government is interested in without building a back door. One of those methods would have involved connecting the phone to a known wifi network.
Apple sent engineers to try that method, the executives said, but the experts were unable to do it. It was then that they discovered that the Apple ID password associated with the phone had been changed.
The fact that the password was reset means that Apple was unable to retrieve info from the iPhone's unencrypted iCloud backup like it has for past investigations, according to reporters Apple spoke with. If the password hadn't somehow been reset while in law enforcement custody, the FBI likely wouldn't need Apple to create a tool that lets it brute force hack the iPhone's lock screen passcode and gain access to the device's encrypted contents.
The revelation comes just hours after the Department of Justice filed a motion accusing Apple of refusing to cooperate with the investigation "based on its concern for its business model and public brand marketing strategy." Apple CEO Tim Cook penned a blistering public letter this week refusing to help the court create a back door into the shooter's iPhone.
"The government suggests this tool could only be used once, on one phone," Cook wrote . "But that's simply not true. Once created, the technique could be used over and over again, on any number of devices. In the physical world, it would be the equivalent of a master key, capable of opening hundreds of millions of locks — from restaurants and banks to stores and homes. No reasonable person would find that acceptable."
Cook, a strong privacy and encryption advocate, also said that the court's request for Apple to break into the iPhone had "implications far beyond the legal case at hand."
Apple wasn't immediately available to comment when reached by Tech Insider on Friday.