Who would have thought that pattern screen locks on Android phones actually provide such an effective barrier to unauthorized access that even the FBI is forced ask Google for help in unlocking a suspect’s phone?
The situation has been revealed after the Bureau requested a search warrant that would demand of Google to “provide law enforcement with any and all means of gaining access, including login and password information, password reset, and/or manufacturer default code (“PUK”), in order to obtain the complete contents of the memory of cellular telephone”.
The phone in question is a Samsung model SGH-T679 and allegedly belongs to a one Dante Dears, who is suspected of being involved in human trafficking and prostitution.
After the FBI officers got ahold of it and tried – and failed – to unlock it a number of times, the phone locked itself permanently and the mechanism can only be safely overridden with Google’s help, i.e. with the suspect’s Google username and password.
According to Wired, many forensic experts confirmed that the Android pattern lock can definitely stymie anyone who can’t recreate the pattern.
It is possible for the forensic specialists to physically pull apart the phone and try to extract the data from its components, but a successful result is not guaranteed and the data can be lost or damaged.
Google has declined to comment on the warrant.