Maker of 'GrayKey' iPhone Unlocking Box Suffers 'Brief' Data Breach, Receives Money Demands

Grayshift, the company that makes the GrayKey iPhone unlocking boxes that have been sold to multiple law enforcement agencies across the United States, recently suffered a data breach that allowed hackers to access a small portion of the GrayKey code, reports VICE's Motherboard.

GrayKey box, via MalwareBytes

Last week, unknown hackers leaked portions of the GrayKey code and demanded two bitcoin from Grayshift with the threat of additional data being leaked. According to Motherboard, the code in question "does not appear to be particularly sensitive," but Grayshift did confirm that a "brief" data leak had occurred.

Indeed, Grayshift told Motherboard in a statement "Due [to] a network misconfiguration at a customer site, a GrayKey unit's UI was exposed to the internet for a brief period of time earlier this month."

"During this time, someone accessed the HTML/Javascript that makes up our UI. No sensitive IP or data was exposed, as the GrayKey was being validation tested at the time. We have since implemented changes to help our customers prevent unauthorized access," the statement added.

Grayshift says that no sensitive IP or data was exposed, and Motherboard confirms that the leaked code appears to be related to the user interface that displays messages on the GrayKey, but it's clear that Grayshift security is not airtight, raising questions about what kind of data might be accessible to hackers.

The GrayKey is a small, portable gray box equipped with dual Lightning cables. An iPhone is plugged into one of the cables to install proprietary software that's able to guess the passcode to an iPhone in as little as a few hours to a few days, based on the strength of the passcode.

GrayKey, which is priced starting at $15,000, can crack the latest iPhones running modern versions of iOS, including iOS 11. While the box is designed to provide law enforcement officials with easy access to locked iPhones for criminal investigations, there have been fears that the GrayKey technology could fall into the wrong hands.

The box has been sold to multiple law enforcement agencies across the country, and the data breach that Grayshift suffered, however inconsequential, is not at all reassuring for those who are worried about the security of the GrayKey boxes. The underlying functionality that allows the GrayKey to crack iPhones could be discovered and replicated, and the GrayKey boxes themselves are said to download data from cracked iPhones, which could also be at risk in a data breach.

According to Motherboard, Grayshift has not paid the extortionists their two bitcoin fee, as the Bitcoin addresses provided have received no funds. An additional Bitcoin address promising to provide interested parties with GrayKey information has also not received funds.

Grayshift says that "changes" have been made to help customers prevent unauthorized access to GrayKey boxes in the future, but Motherboard discovered another exposed GrayKey device broadcasting similar code.

Using the computer search engine Shodan, Motherboard found a seemingly exposed GrayKey device, broadcasting similar chunks of code to the open internet.

"To brute force a complex alphanumeric passcode, upload a custom password dictionary. If a dictionary is not uploaded, GrayKey will not attempt to brute force custom alphanumeric passcodes," one section of the apparent device's code reads.

The technology used for the GrayKey will likely be outdated at some point through updates to the iOS operating system, but as far as we know now, it's still functional for even the latest versions of iOS and the newest iOS devices, including the iPhone X.

Those worried about GrayKey and similar technologies can implement stronger and more secure passcodes and passwords that are more difficult to guess through brute forcing to prevent these kinds of tools from working. A 6-digit numeric passcode, Apple's default, can be guessed in as little as 11 hours, but an 8-digit numeric code can take over a month, while a 10-digit numeric code can take years.

Security experts recommend alphanumeric passcodes that are at least seven characters long with numbers, upper and lowercase letters, and symbols included. The longer the password, the more secure it is from GrayKey-style guessing methods. For more information on Grayshift's data breach, check out Motherboard's full report.

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
33 months ago
That’s exactly why the iPhone, et al... should not have a back door
Score: 78 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
This is far beyond irony or karma, this is exactly what we've been screaming the warnings about for years now about why backdoors are an incredibly bad idea.
Score: 47 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
Oh, and this technology will be exclusive to law enforcement and will never get in the hands of bad actors. Right.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
This is exactly why Tim Cook said you shouldn't build back-doors into products. Hackers will get at those back-doors one way or another.
Score: 40 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
Sure, let's build a "secure" government back door into all customer data and communications, what could go wrong?
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
33 months ago
I just want Apple to fix this bug so the stupid boxes become expensive paperweights.

Users have a right to privacy.
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Samsung Mocks Apple for Ditching Power Adapters With iPhone 12 Lineup

Thursday October 15, 2020 11:51 am PDT by
Samsung on its social channels is mocking Apple for removing the power adapter from the iPhone 12 lineup and other iPhone models, pointing out the fact that the Samsung Galaxy smartphones continue to ship with a power adapter. "Included with your Galaxy," reads a Samsung Facebook post that features a picture of a power adapter. Apple notably is no longer providing power adapters or...

iPhone 12 Pro Pre-Orders Already Selling Out With Delivery Times Pushing Into November

Friday October 16, 2020 6:35 am PDT by
Apple today opened pre-orders for the 6.1-inch models of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro through its website and the Apple Store app, and estimated delivery times are already slipping into November for select configurations in the United States. Customers ordering a SIM-free/Pacific Blue/128GB version of the iPhone 12 Pro, for example, are already facing an estimated delivery window of...

HomePod Mini Cable is Non-Detachable, Ends With USB-C Connector for Use With Included 20W Power Adapter

Friday October 16, 2020 12:45 pm PDT by
While not detailed in the tech specs, MacRumors can confirm that Apple's new HomePod mini features a non-detachable power cable that ends with a USB-C connector for use with the 20W power adapter included in the box. With the switch to USB-C, the HomePod mini could potentially be powered by a wider range of devices and peripherals, ranging from MacBooks to USB-C battery packs with enough...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

New Google App Feature Lets You Hum a Song to Search for It

Saturday October 17, 2020 4:05 am PDT by
Google has added a new feature to its Search app that allows you to hum a song that's stuck in your head, and then use the company's machine learning algorithm to try and identify it. In the Google app or using the Google Search widget, tap the mic icon and say "what's this song?" or click the "Search a song" button. Then start humming the tune for 10-15 seconds. When you're done, the...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...

Apple Offering Free AirPods With iPhone 11 Purchase in India as Part of Diwali Celebration

Friday October 16, 2020 12:35 pm PDT by
Apple today launched a new Diwali promotion in India that will see the company providing customers with a set of AirPods with the purchase of any iPhone 11 model. The new iPhone 12 models are not part of the promotion. Apple is offering the standard AirPods With Charging Case free with purchase, but customers can choose to upgrade to the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case or the AirPods Pro....

Apple Event to Unveil First Apple Silicon Macs Could Happen on November 17

Friday October 16, 2020 2:24 am PDT by
Apple will hold another digital event on November 17 to announce its first Apple Silicon powered Macs, according to frequent leaker Jon Prosser. Apple has already said that this year it intends to introduce the first Mac powered by an Apple Silicon chip instead of an Intel processor. One thing it hasn't revealed is the date it will be announced. According to Prosser's source, that date is No...

Apple Online Store Down Ahead of iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Pre-Orders

Thursday October 15, 2020 11:15 pm PDT by
Apple's online store is down ahead of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders, which are set to begin at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time in the United States. "You're... early," reads the Apple Store message when attempting to visit the U.S. website. "Pre-order begins at 5:00 a.m. PDT. Enjoy the extra sleep." Apple used to do new device pre-orders at 12:01 a.m. Pacific Time, but since last year, has...

When You Can Pre-Order the iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Every Time Zone

Thursday October 15, 2020 10:55 am PDT by
Pre-orders for the iPhone 12 and the iPhone 12 Pro are set to kick off on Friday, October 16 at 5:00 a.m. Pacific Time, which is a new launch time that Apple adopted as of last year. Apple is planning to make the new devices available in multiple countries around the world simultaneously, so we've made a guide to let MacRumors readers know when pre-orders will in their country. Pre-orders...