FBI paying Cellebrite $15,278 to open Syed Farook's Apple iPhone 5c?

FBI paying Cellebrite $15,278 to open Syed Farook's Apple iPhone 5c?
Just the other day, on the eve of what promised to be a three-ring circus inside a courtroom, the DOJ asked a judge to cancel a hearing scheduled between Apple and the DOJ. The government was trying to force Apple to develop a unique OS that would be used to unlock the Apple iPhone 5c used by deceased terrorist Syed Farook. The government hopes that the phone contains clues to the attack carried out by Farook and his wife that left 14 dead. 

Apple's concern is that in building this so-called Govt.OS, someone will discover the code which would allow them to break into any iPhone in the world. If this were to occur, no longer would iPhone users feel secure about leaving personal information inside their phone. While Apple has been stonewalling Uncle Sam, the FBI has been looking for other ways to open up the terrorist's iPhone.

On Monday, the feds hit pay dirt. The FBI announced that it had found a third party to unlock Farook's phone. Who was this unnamed hacker who could do something that Apple said couldn't be done? According to Reuters, Israeli company Cellebrite is working with the FBI to open Farook's phone. You might recall that many carriers used to use a Cellebrite machine to move a user's phone contacts over from an old phone to a newly purchased one.

Another piece of information apparently confirms that the FBI is counting on Cellebrite to unlock Farook's iPhone 5c Twitter user Zen Albatross has discovered that the FBI signed a contract on Monday with the Israeli firm. Considering that Monday was the day that the FBI proclaimed that it had a third party that could break into Farook's iPhone 5c, it seems more than a coincidence that Cellebrite signed a contract with the FBI on the very same day.

So how much is the FBI paying Cellebrite to open a terrorist's iPhone? According to published information about the contract, the FBI is paying the company $15,278 to do the job.

Cellebrite's own website notes that it has the "unique capability" to unlock devices running iOS 8.x "in a forensically sound manner and without any hardware intervention or risk of device wipe." While that sounds like good news for the FBI, Farook's phone is powered by iOS 9. Still, there isn't any indication that the mobile forensics firm can't unlock iPhone models running that build.

Cellebrite signed a contract with the FBI on Monday

Cellebrite signed a contract with the FBI on Monday


source: @zenalbatross via Reuters

Related phones

iPhone 5c
  • Display 4.0" 640 x 1136 pixels
  • Camera 8 MP / 1.2 MP front
  • Processor Apple A6, Dual-core, 1300 MHz
  • Storage 32 GB
  • Battery 1507 mAh(10h 3G talk time)

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8 Comments

1. TheMan

Posts: 494; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Cellebrite?! So, (I'm guessing) $1 million in legal fees down the drain...

3. kajam

Posts: 220; Member since: Jun 24, 2015

Cellebrite

29. ph00ny

Posts: 1994; Member since: May 26, 2011

I've used their older devices and they're actually pretty cool. I remember using it on blackberry and ended up recovering 4k deleted text messages

43. TheHitman1982

Posts: 89; Member since: Dec 30, 2014

If this happens and do actually break into the phone Apple should sue the FBI and Cellebrite for violating their terms of service.

44. KRONeage

Posts: 144; Member since: Apr 17, 2011

Dude? lol.... Are you for REAL??? ahahaha... I know Apple fans are usually religiously addicted Apple always being right and the fact they think that DoJ are criminals for prosecuting their God Almighty Corporate Dictatorship, for the illegal government monitoring of their Price Fixing Corporate Criminal eBooks Scandal. You people seem to think Apple can do no wrong! Get real.... they are conducting an investigation of a Terrorist Attack, where many Americans lost their lives. Now you seem to not be supporting either Apple unlocking or disabling elementary security features or Law Enforcement should be branded and prosecuted for getting the phone unlocked??? Are iDiot Nuts For REAL???

25. oozz009

Posts: 520; Member since: Jun 22, 2015

Who knows? Maybe it's Apple who paid this amount annomisly as part of a behind the scenes deal with the government themselves. That would at least explain why the court for Tuesday was dropped in last minute.

37. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Wouldn't be the first time an organization has disguised it's name to do something off the radar...take for example ISIS, that stood for Israel Secret Intelligence Service (a.k.a. Mossad): https://db.tt/sZ6D4P1U Speaking of which, could this be of some means to legitimize sending money to Israel for whatever bigger reason?

45. egyptian3030

Posts: 30; Member since: Nov 21, 2015

Be happy FBI, an Israeli Company will help you to hack others phones\security as they are doing daily in Palestine.

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