Judge orders Apple to access iPhone belonging to San Bernadino shooter

Judge Sheri Pym informed Apple that it must provide specialized software that will allow law enforcement officials to thwart iPhone's built-in security measures, specifically a feature that automatically erases handset data after a certain number of unsuccessful login attempts, the Associated Press reports (via ABC News).

It is unclear whether the iPhone in question is running iOS 8 or iOS 9, both of which feature so-called "strong encryption" that even Apple can't break. The report is also vague on the level to which Apple must participate. From the AP's wording, it appears Apple could be forced to hand over a software package that might be copied and later applied to similarly locked devices, undermining the company's encryption efforts.

Today's ruling comes less than a week after FBI director James Comey said law enforcement technicians have attempted, but so far failed, to access information stored on an iPhone owned by the county, but used by Syed Rizwan Farook. Farook and his wife Tashfeen Malik fatally shot 14 people in a terrorist attack last year before being killed in an ensuing police shootout.