German authorities have managed to crack a man’s iPhone, and are using the device’s Health app data as evidence in a murder and rape investigation. Beware, the story is pretty grim.
A man named Hussein K. allegedly raped and murdered a 19-year-old woman then abandoned her body in a river. He’s has been on trial in Germany since September. But now, data from the native Health app on the man’s iPhone may prove to be the key to unraveling the case.
Details of the trial have been hazy, according to Motherboard. German authorities can’t agree on the man’s real name, his last name is apparently being withheld, and there’s a missing chunk of time in the analysis of digital data during the time of the crime, the publication reported.
But while Hussein K. refused to give police his iPhone’s passcode, investigators managed to bypass the lock screen by hiring a third-party Munich company (whose name has not been released to the public). This is very notable, as it’d be one of the first known instances of an iPhone lock screen bypass mechanism.
Investigators are reportedly using data from the native Health app to connect Hussein K. to the crime. Specifically, activity data that the app recorded as “climbing stairs.” Authorities were able to correlate the activity with the time the man would have dragged his victim down to the river and climbed back up, Motherboard reported.
And, when investigators replicated his apparent movements at the scene of the crime, they found that their own Health app activity correlated extremely closely with the activity recorded on Hussein K.’s device.
This isn’t the first time that activity data proved to be a key component of a murder investigation. In April, a Connecticut man was charged with murdering his wife after her Fitbit activity contradicted his version of events. Indeed, digital data is increasingly becoming a common component in criminal cases.
On the other hand, this is what appears to be the first known case of an iPhone 6 or later being cracked by authorities. Local media in Germany describe the device as an iPhone 6s. That’s notable because all iPhones newer than the iPhone 5s are installed with Apple’s Secure Enclave. Many law enforcement entities across the globe are still unable to crack iPhones in their evidence rooms.
Of course, the man’s iPhone 6s may have been running an older version of iOS with known vulnerabilities that the Munich company was able to exploit. There’s currently no word on what software the iPhone was running.
If the iPhone was properly patched with the latest iOS version, then the case raises other uncomfortable privacy implications. Specifically, it suggests that even iPhones with Apple’s notoriously secure encryption are still vulnerable to being cracked.