'GrayKey' iPhone Unlocking Box Used by Law Enforcement Shown Off in Photos

Last week, news of a previously-unknown iPhone unlocking device called GrayKey surfaced, and today, MalwareBytes shared photos and additional information about the product, which is designed for law enforcement officials.

Created by a company named Grayshift, GrayKey is a small, portable gray box equipped with dual Lightning cables.


Two iPhones can be connected to the GrayKey at once, and need to be connected for about two minutes to install proprietary software that's designed to guess the passcode for an iPhone. Once the software is installed, it will work to crack the passcode, a process that can take as little as a few hours for a short passcode or several days for a longer six-digit passcode.

Once the GrayKey software has cracked the passcode, it'll be displayed right on the screen of the iPhone. The iPhone can then be plugged back into the GrayKey to download all of the data on the iPhone, including the unencrypted contents of the Keychain, which can then be accessed using a computer.


Based on screenshots, the GrayKey can crack modern iPhones running modern versions of iOS. It works with the iPhone X and iOS 11.2.5, the version of iOS that was likely available when the screenshots were captured. It probably also works with iOS 11.2.6, unless Apple has managed to block it in the latest operating system update.


Grayshift presumably designed the GrayKey for law enforcement professionals, and it's relatively expensive. A $15,000 option requires internet connectivity and is geofenced to a specific location once set up, while a $30,000 option requires no internet connection and can be used anywhere.

MalwareBytes worries that the portable version of the GrayKey could easily fall into the wrong hands. It uses two-factor authentication, but given that people "often write passwords on stickies and put them on their monitors," it's possible the token could be kept in the same location as the device.

What happens if the GrayKey becomes commonplace in law enforcement? The cheaper model isn't much of a danger if stolen--unless it's stolen prior to setup--but at 4″x 4″x 2″, the unlimited model could be pocketed fairly easily, along with its token, if stored nearby. Once off-site, it would continue to work. Such a device could fetch a high price on the black market, giving thieves the ability to unlock and resell stolen phones, as well as access to the high-value data on those phones.

How the GrayKey works is not known, but it's believed to be using some sort of jailbreaking process that could damage iPhones in some way. It's also not known how the GrayKey device itself is protecting data that's stored on it, and whether or not the data could be remotely accessed by hackers.

It's also unknown who Grayshift is selling the devices to. It's possible that sales are limited to law enforcement officials in the United States, but it's also possible that it's being offered abroad. Other devices of this type have slipped out of the hands of law enforcement and have become widely available, so the same could happen with the GrayKey.

Apple is continually working to fix the kinds of exploits used by devices like the GrayKey, so it's possible whatever mechanism the box uses will be fixed in a future update. The average iPhone owner likely doesn't need to worry about the GrayKey, but as MalwareBytes points out, it is troublesome knowing such a device could fall into the hands of malicious entities.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
27 months ago

The average iPhone owner likely doesn't need to worry about the GrayKey


Ah, yes, the "something to hide" fallacy.

Apple, please do what you can to protect us from this.
Score: 100 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago
Imagine buying one and one software update later it doesn't work anymore. :D
Score: 67 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago
Steve would’ve approved of the design.

Does it just come in space grey?

Or gold / silver too?
Score: 62 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago
$30.000 is peanuts for Apple, they just buy one and before you know it iOS is patched, if not already.
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago
This is why you don't use 6-digit passcodes but instead a complex alphanumeric one.
Score: 51 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
27 months ago

$30.000 is peanuts for Apple, they just buy one and before you know it iOS is patched, if not already.


Apple: "Hi yes I need to order two GrayKey's."

GrayKey: "Okay and where are we shipping these?"

Apple: "Cuperti--"

GrayKey: "Click."
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Apple Considering Delaying iPhone 12 Launch 'by Months'

Wednesday March 25, 2020 12:51 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple is preparing to delay the launch of the 2020 iPhones expected to be equipped with 5G technology, according to sources with knowledge of Apple's plans that spoke to Japanese news site Nikkei. Apple has reportedly held internal discussions about the possibility of delaying the launch "by months" over fears of how well iPhones would sell in the current situation, and supply chain sources...

Apple Helps Source Over 10 Million N95 Masks for Healthcare Providers in the U.S.

Wednesday March 25, 2020 10:25 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple over the weekend announced plans to donate millions of N95 masks to hospitals in the United States and Europe, and according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple has been able to source more than 10 million N95 masks in the U.S. and millions more in Europe. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Saturday that Apple was aiming to donate supplies to healthcare providers fighting COVID-19, and clarified...

Hands-On With the New 2020 12.9-Inch iPad Pro

Wednesday March 25, 2020 2:10 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple last week announced new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, and as of today, the new iPads are arriving to customers. We picked up one of the new 12.9-inch models and checked it out to see just what's new and whether it's worth buying. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. When it comes to design, the new iPad Pro models are identical to the 2018 iPad Pro models, but ...

Kuo: Apple to Launch Several Macs With Arm-Based Processors in 2021, USB4 Support Coming to Macs in 2022

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:19 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple plans to launch several Mac notebooks and desktop computers with its own custom designed Arm-based processors in 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Kuo believes that Arm-based processors will significantly enhance the competitive advantage of the Mac lineup, allow Apple to refresh its Mac models without relying on Intel's processor roadmap,...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.4 With New Mail Toolbar, iCloud Folder Sharing, Trackpad Support for iPad and More

Tuesday March 24, 2020 9:56 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.4, the latest major updates to the iOS 13 operating system that was released in September. iOS and iPadOS 13.4 come two months after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.3.1 with Screen Time Communication Limits. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to...

Apple Releases macOS Catalina 10.15.4 With Screen Time Communication Limits and Real-Time Apple Music Lyrics

Tuesday March 24, 2020 10:21 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released macOS Catalina 10.15.4, the fourth update to the macOS Catalina operating system that was released in October. macOS Catalina 10.15.4 comes a couple of months after the release of macOS Catalina 10.15.3. macOS Catalina 10.15.4 can be downloaded from the Mac App Store for free using the Update feature in the System Preferences app. The macOS Catalina 10.15.4 update...

Apple Says MacBook Air With Retina Display Can Exhibit Anti-Reflective Coating Issues, Unclear if Eligible for Free Repairs [Updated]

Thursday March 26, 2020 8:16 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple this week acknowledged that MacBook Air models with Retina displays can exhibit anti-reflective coating issues, as indicated in a memo shared with Apple Authorized Service Providers and obtained by MacRumors. "Retina displays on some MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro computers can exhibit anti-reflective (AR) coating issues," the memo states. Apple's internal service documentation ...

Hands-On With Apple's New Smart Keyboard Folio for the 2020 iPad Pro Models

Tuesday March 24, 2020 12:38 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Apple last week introduced new 11 and 12.9-inch iPad Pro models, which are set to arrive in the hands of customers starting this week. Apple introduced a nifty new Magic Keyboard with trackpad alongside the new iPad Pro models that's coming in May, but it also debuted a new Smart Keyboard Folio, which is available now. We picked up the Smart Keyboard Folio for the designed for the 2020 iPad...

Hands-On With the New $999 MacBook Air

Thursday March 26, 2020 1:45 pm PDT by Juli Clover
Alongside new iPad Pros last week, Apple also refreshed the MacBook Air, adding more storage, faster 10th-generation processors, and an updated keyboard. We picked up one of the new machines to take a look at some of the upgrades added in the 2020 update. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Design wise, there are no real external changes to the MacBook Air's body,...

Mobile Networks in Multiple Countries Display 'Stay Home' Message When Users Connect to Cellular Instead of WiFi

Tuesday March 24, 2020 3:46 pm PDT by Juli Clover
iPhone users in several countries who disconnect from WiFi on their devices will see a "Stay Home" message at the top of the Control Center where cellular network information is displayed. Image via Matt Navarra According to reports on Twitter, the status bar messages are showing up in countries that include Germany, Belgium, United Arab Emirates, Peru, Turkey, India, Luxembourg, Romania,...