Cellebrite Says it Now Supports 'Lawful Unlocking' of iPhone 6 and Older Models

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Cellebrite director of forensic research Shahar Tal recently tweeted out that the company's Advanced Investigative Service can now unlock and extract the full file system for the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (via CyberScoop). To date, CAIS "supports lawful unlocking and evidence extraction" from the following iPhone generations: 4s, 5, 5c, 5s, 6, and 6 Plus. No mention has been made whether or not the developer has attempted to unlock newer-generation iPhones, including the iPhone 6s, 6s Plus, 7, or 7 Plus.

The company reportedly charges $1,500 to unlock an individual phone and $250,000 for a yearly subscription to the data extracting service. In addition to the basic system and user data it can get, the hack also targets various apps within the iPhone, including personal data stored in Uber, Facebook, Chrome, and some dating apps.

At the same time this week, Cellebrite announced the next generation of its "Content Transfer" tool, which will allow retailers and operators to fully duplicate a customer's existing iPhone onto a brand new iPhone at an average content transfer speed of 1GB per minute. The developer said this should reduce wait times in stores while also pleasing anxious customers worried about losing data when upgrading to a new iPhone generation.

Cellebrite said the most important settings get transferred in the process, including wallpaper, alarm settings, weather, photos, videos, contacts, and apps. Not included are account passwords, Wi-Fi settings, health data, and website history. The company plans to hold a demonstration of the Full Transfer service for iPhones at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which runs next week from February 27 – March 2.

“With content transfer speeds averaging 1 GB per minute, this new service is a complete game changer.” said Yehuda Holtzman, CEO of Cellebrite Mobile Lifecycle. “With Full Transfer, the average iPhone customer with 10GB of personal data can walk out of the store with a mirror-image of their old iPhone in just 10 minutes, offering customer experience that’s far superior to anything else available today.”

Although the developer has been most recognizably in the public eye for its relation to the Apple-FBI drama and its smartphone-cracking expertise, Cellebrite also offers a collection of services for retailers and businesses. Cellebrite Touch2 and Cellebrite Desktop power in-store smartphones and desktop computers, respectively, with software that the company claims offers flexibility by operating through a store's existing IT infrastructure to "deliver a fast, consistent service."


Earlier in February, Cellebrite found itself at the hands of a hacker when someone stole and publicly released a cache of Cellebrite's most sensitive data, including tools it uses to get into older iPhones. The hacker shared the data on Pastebin, intending to highlight the importance of the inevitability that any brute force tools aimed at bypassing encryption software "will make it out" into the public -- a prime fear of Apple CEO Tim Cook when the FBI originally demanded the company create a backdoor into the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c last year.

Top Rated Comments

brendu Avatar
51 months ago

iPhone = not secure. The ruse is over.
Oh, but wait! The next iPhone 7S can not be hacked. Time to upgrade everyone!

The iPhone is probably the most secure phone available. That doesn't make it impenetrable. If someone is truly concerned about their digital privacy then they won't do anything using a smartphone that they don't want others to see. Obviously we all have a right to privacy but if you don't want the NSA or FBI to see what's on your phone, the only guaranteed way for that to happen is to not have anything on the phone.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MI MacGuy Avatar
51 months ago
And people wondered by APFS and all of its encryption features were so important...
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
B.K. Avatar
51 months ago
Is this a brute force unlock? Or are they able to bypass the secure enclave?
It was understandable on pre 5 phones, but this sounds like very bad news.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Kaibelf Avatar
51 months ago


I've worked in computer forensics for years. I've seen the vast good it does. The situations you describe make up less than 0.1% of all cases. Instead, most of the time this type of software is being used to get data used to put a pedophile in jail so they can't hurt your kids like they have other's. It's being used to get information which stops US troops from being killed. It's used to get data which stops Americans back here in the US and others abroad, from being killed in other terroristic acts.

Your everyday cops don't have access to these type of tools. Even large departments usually don't. You generally have to go to the state level, if not the federal level, to find them.

Please cite your source and methodology for claiming "less than 0.1%" of all these cases are rotten before you throw in a "save the children" and generic terrorism bogeyman as an excuse for government overreach.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Saipher Avatar
51 months ago
I'm hoping this will all change with the implementation of APFS, at least on newer devices.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macTW Avatar
51 months ago

They and others (myself included) have been selling these tools to law enforcement for nearly 10 years. Go and see how many you find available online.
[doublepost=1487951662][/doublepost]

These tools are used by government law enforcement. If they have your device, chances are almost certain that they have every right to examine it and in most cases have a court order to do so.

So yes, lawful in almost every case.

What I mean by "lawful" is that this is exactly the same thing as if the police saw a safe, took it and forced their way in blindly, not knowing what's in there and using that lack of knowing as motivation. Aka not lawful at all. No just cause.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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