Israeli firm helped FBI hack iPhone

Israeli firm helped FBI hack iPhone

The Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite helped the FBI hack into the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, NBC reports, citing industry sources.

ADVERTISEMENT
The firm has been rumored to be behind the FBI’s newfound ability to access the device, thanks to a previous and unconfirmed report from an Israeli newspaper.

Neither Cellebrite nor the Department of Justice has confirmed the reports.

The FBI has routinely contracted Cellebrite over the last five years. The company, which publicly boasts of its ability to hack into Apple devices, has received over $2 million in purchase orders from the agency since 2012.

The Justice Department on Monday withdrew its case against Apple, telling a federal court it was able to unlock the device without the tech giant's help.

"The FBI has now successfully retrieved the data stored on the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone and therefore no longer requires the assistance from Apple required by this Court Order,” Justice Department spokeswoman Melanie Newman said in a statement.

“The FBI is currently reviewing the information on the phone, consistent with standard investigatory procedures.”

The FBI had asked the courts to direct Apple to unlock the iPhone, but at the last minute delayed the first court hearing last week. At the time, authorities said they wanted to test a new method to unlock the phone without Apple's assistance.

That same day, the agency inked a $15,000 contract with Cellebrite for “information technology software,” although the "principle place of performance" is listed as Chicago.

In a motion filed Monday, the Justice Department told the court that method proved successful, giving authorities access to the data on the phone used by Syed Rizwan Farook, one of two shooters who killed 14 people in the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorist attack in December.

It remains unclear what method the agency leveraged to access the phone or what information it has obtained.

“I don’t think we’re going to go into any details other than what we put in our filing before,” a law enforcement official said Monday.