FBI asks Google for help breaking pimp's Android phone

By , ITworld |  Security, Android, Google

flickr/greggoconnell

Google ordered to help FBI access phone of convicted pimp breaking parole to run business.

Wonder if the pattern lock on your Android phone is really secure? Wonder no more, since the FBI couldn't break it, even with the cooperation of phone user Dante Dears. On parole, Dears must allow searches and open any locked digital files. He either gave the FBI techs the wrong pattern lock key, or they messed it up enough so that the phone locked, and they needed Google's help to gain access to contact lists, e-mail, texts, photos, videos, and other private data.

Google, of course, had to comply with the order from a judge to provide the account credentials needed to unlock the phone. Surprisingly, the warrant was not ordered sealed by the court, and researcher Christopher Soghoian found it.

Technical details

You mean the same pattern lock that I guessed on my brothers phone on the second attempt by looking a the finger smears?
Richard West on slashgear.com

Anyone else surprised that they don't just take the phone apart?
orangebag on arstechnica.com

It is kind of hilarious that the FBI couldn't figure out how to get into the phone themselves, though.
StarKruzr on arstechnica.com

Privacy comments

I would hope the FBI is bright enough to know that in all likelyhood Google stores their users passwords in hashed form. How would Google actually be able to comply with this request for the password?
pilif on news.ycombinator.com

All they want to do is unlock the phone, but are too dumb to connect a USB cable and run adb.)
jrockway on news.ycombinator.com

asking Google for the SSN of a user is kind of odd, and I really hope Google doesn't know that.
freehunter on news.ycombinator.com

This is also super interesting: "His parole conditions prevented him from doing anything to hide or lock digital files." So if convicted of a crime they can require you to not use basic personal and identity safety measures.
user2459 on news.ycombinator.com

Legal thoughts

It's nice to see due process at work. Warrants are our friends.
Ufgt on arstechnica.com

hilarious.....i you need the phone to make a case, you don't have a case.
Julian Taylor on slashgear.com

Did anyone else notice it says “Verbal and/or written instructions for overriding the ‘pattern lock’ installed on the” phone? Why does it need to be verbal or written unless they plan on reusing the procedure?
fishsandwich on arstechnica.com

If you're worried about sneaky friends breaking into your phone to cause mischief, perhaps you should check out an Android phone. It's FBI approved safe from casual hacking. If you keep your fingers and screen clean.

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