Israeli tech firm Cellebrite says it can unlock most Apple iPhone models

Israeli tech firm Cellebrite says it can unlock most Apple iPhone models
You might remember the name Cellebrite from the old days when you would purchase a new feature phone and have the contacts and other data moved from your old handset to the new one. Many carriers would use a Cellebrite machine to handle those duties. At the same time, these machines would often give us information about an upcoming new model before it was released.

And two years ago, the company ended up involved in the brouhaha over Apple's defiance of a court order demanding that it unlock the Apple iPhone 5c belonging to deceased "Sacramento shooter" Syed Farook. Apple refused to hand over a special version of iOS (dubbed gOS for government operating system) that would have opened the terrorist's handset, stating that turning over such software placed the security of all iPhone units in jeopardy. Desperate, the FBI eventually made a deal with Cellebrite to unlock Farook's phone. While the price paid was never officially released, guesses ranged from $15,000 to as high as $1 million. By the way, the government did not find one shred of usable evidence on the phone.

Today, Cellebrite confirmed that it can now unlock iPhone handsets running versions of iOS up to the last public release of iOS 11.2.6. This will allow the FBI and other law enforcement agencies to bypass the lock screen on iPhone units. According to a story published in Forbes, Cellebrite can now "retrieve (without needing to root or jailbreak the device) the full file system to recover downloaded emails, third-party application data, geolocation data and system logs."

Former CIA employee Edward Snowden weighed in on Twitter, saying that the security of an iPhone was one of the most compelling reasons to buy an iOS powered device as opposed to an Android model. The new capabilities offered by Cellebrite "threaten the core of an iPhone's value," tweeted Snowden. A Cellebrite sales brochure for its Advanced Unlocking and Extraction Services brags that the firm can now unlock "Apple iOS devices and operating systems, including iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPod touch, running iOS 5 to iOS 11." The company also told a source in law enforcement that it can unlock the Apple iPhone 8. A warrant in an arms trafficking case suggests that the government broke into an iPhone X. One way this could have been accomplished was to put the phone up to the face of the accused and allow Face ID to do its thing. 

To unlock an iPhone, cops mail the device to Cellebrite where the company performs its sorcery to unlock the phone. It is then sent back to law enforcement so that the required data can be pulled out of the handset, or Cellebrite can handle that task as well. For all this, Cellebrite charges as low as $1,500.


source: Forbes, @Snowden

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17 Comments

1. Jacksie66 unregistered

Good job there's a big red arrow in the photo otherwise I'd have never have spotted the name on the building.....

8. aegislash

Posts: 1526; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

I was thinking the exact same thing. Without that arrow, we would never have noticed it. Thanks for the helping hand, PA.

2. KingSam

Posts: 1492; Member since: Mar 13, 2016

But iOS is unhackable. The perfect OS. /s

4. DolmioMan

Posts: 345; Member since: Jan 08, 2018

Nobody ever says iOS is unhackable except fanatics trying to make a point, the security isn’t as wafer thin as it is on Android, there’s obviously an exploit in iOS but even the NSA/FBI don’t know it.

16. Back_from_beyond

Posts: 1459; Member since: Sep 04, 2015

And what do you know about the security of Android, I doubt you know anything at all.

11. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Then imagine what's the nature of Android.....lol They might do it for free as a goodwill gesture for CIA cuz it'll be that much easy.

14. rouyal

Posts: 1583; Member since: Jan 05, 2018

You only need anywhere from $15000 to $1000000 to get it done.

3. antroid

Posts: 392; Member since: Jan 24, 2018

Nothing is unbreakable, just need the right time and the right people

5. ph00ny

Posts: 2065; Member since: May 26, 2011

Snowden worked for CIA? edit: i guess he was a direct employee of the CIA at one point

7. Dadler22

Posts: 242; Member since: Dec 11, 2008

Yeah he saw first hand the civil rights violations the United States government was up too and decided to essentially sacrifice himself to tell the public. Good thing nothing changed

13. ph00ny

Posts: 2065; Member since: May 26, 2011

No one said a peep after 9/11 but now everyone is up in arms. It's funny how things work

6. jsjammu

Posts: 169; Member since: Nov 13, 2014

Apple still shouldn't handover the iOS key to gov't agencies. If someone has committed a crime then they can go to whatever lengths to solve the crime.

10. L0n3n1nja

Posts: 1581; Member since: Jul 12, 2016

We still used cellebrite in 2016 at Verizon, it was often the only way to move things between iOS and Android since Apple doesn't like to play nice.

12. piyath

Posts: 2445; Member since: Mar 23, 2012

Apple should work hard to find those vulnerabilities and fix them asap. I'm pretty sure they'll do that very soon.

17. iushnt

Posts: 3138; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

Doesn’t seem that easy to close all holes from Celebrite

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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