The US government is trying to figure out if the shooter communicated with any of the people he killed in December 2015 or if he communicated with any unknown co-conspirators. This is despite the fact that it is known that the gunman had another phone he destroyed.
As a result, on 16 February, a federal judge ordered the tech giant to develop software that would make it easier for the American government to crack the 4-digit passcode on the gunman’s device. The FBI outlined that they didn’t ask for iCloud password, just a passcode to a particular device. However, Apple refused to comply, calling this move a clear way to violate user trust, the security of Apple products and a core tenet of its business. While the company received support of other tech giant who usually compete with Apple, the FBI claimed that Apple has placed its marketing goals over national security.
In this particular case, the FBI sought data on the shooter’s iPhone, which was in fact owned by the San Bernardino County government. They figured out that such data could be backed up into iCloud service automatically if the device connects to one of its default Wi-Fi networks. Apple did have the technical ability to get inside an iCloud account and has already provided the investigators with any iCloud data it had for the gunman. However, it turned out that the latest backup was made in October 2015, 6 weeks before the shooting. The problem is that such feature is automatically disabled if someone changes the iCloud password.
San Bernardino county claimed that the only reason it tampered with potential evidence was because it was told to do so by the federal agency. Now Apple can’t help the investigators to unlock physical iPhones, because the passcodes are encrypted within the device, and Apple has no access to them. The iPhone maker said that had the password reset not happened, Apple would not be going to court with its own government.