Data Extraction Company Cellebrite Touts New Software for Cracking iPhones and iPads Running up to iOS 12.3

Israel-based software developer Cellebrite, known for breaking into mobile devices like the iPhone to obtain sensitive data, has announced that it can now unlock any iOS device running up to iOS 12.3, which was released only a month ago.


The firm revealed the capability in a tweet posted late Friday advertising UFED Premium, the latest version of its Universal Forensic Extraction Device.

On its UFED web page, Cellebrite describes the tool's ability to glean forensic data from any iOS device dating back to iOS 7, as well as from Android devices made by Samsung, Huawei, LG, and Xiaomi.

The Israel firm describes UFED Premium as "the only on-premise solution for law enforcement agencies to unlock and extract crucial mobile phone evidence from all iOS and high-end Android devices."

If the claims are accurate, Cellebrite's tool will enable authorities to potentially crack the vast majority of smartphones currently available on the market. As Wired notes, no other law enforcement contractor has made such broad claims about a single product, at least not publicly.

Apple continually introduces improvements to the security of its operating systems in order to keep ahead of companies like Cellebrite that are always searching for flaws and vulnerabilities to exploit in order to access the data on locked iOS devices.

For example, in October 2018 Apple's successfully thwarted the "GrayKey" ‌iPhone‌ passcode hack, sold by Atlanta-based company Grayshift, which had also been in use by U.S. law enforcement.

Cellebrite first garnered significant attention in 2016, when it was believed the company was enlisted to help the FBI break into the ‌iPhone‌ 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook after Apple refused to provide the FBI with tools to unlock the device.

The FBI did not use Cellebrite's services for that particular case, but several United States government agencies do regularly work with Cellebrite to unlock iOS devices.

According to Wired's sources, Grayshift has developed tools to unlock at least some versions of iOS 12. If true, the firm is still keeping its cards close to its chest, but probably not for much longer.

Even as Apple works to increase the security of its iOS devices, Cellebrite's brazen announcement suggests the cat-and-mouse game of exploiting vulnerabilities in mobile device software will only become more competitive, as rival companies attempt to grab a bigger share of the market.

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
18 months ago

As long as Apple continues to have bugs that allow people to break in, how can Apple claim the high ground with regard to privacy. At the end of the day, it does not matter whether its a bug (in Apple's case) or a feature (in Google's case) it still puts our devices at risk.

There's no such thing as "bug free software", and there's no such thing as "100% secure" software. Security is, and always will be a game of cat and mouse and there's no way around it.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

Cellebrite first garnered significant attention in 2016, when it was believed ('https://www.macrumors.com/2016/03/23/fbi-israeli-firm-cellebrite-to-unlock-iphone/') the company was enlisted to help the FBI break into the iPhone 5c of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook after Apple refused to provide the FBI with tools to unlock the device.

If i recall correctly, Apple did not "refused to provide the FBI with tools to unlock the device" they simply said they had no way to do what they were asked.....
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

As long as companies continue to find ways to break into devices, there is no need for legislation requiring manufacturers to provide law enforcement with back doors.

I would argue even if there weren't private sector solutions, there is still no need to require back doors in smartphones and other computer hardware - because (beyond user privacy) there is no such thing as a secure back door, thinking back to the exploits that were leaked (from the NSA etc.) and the access would be abused by governments. JMHO...
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

Every time there's a thread for cracking iOS devices, I get a good laugh. So many people think the government cares enough about them to want to get on their phone. I see similar behavior in schizophrenics. If you're not doing extraordinarily illegal activity, you could have a flip phone from 2001 and your personal data would be safe from any government.

Unless one of you was the San Bernardino shooter, no one cares. Does anyone fall into that category? Didn't think so.

You may now return to your government conspiracy theories and delusions and grandeur.

Thank you for touting your ignorance. If you ever are unlucky enough to be falsely accused of a crime, I’m sure you’ll change your tune... quickly

This has everything to do with potential and what an overreaching government is able to do
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago

As long as Apple continues to have bugs that allow people to break in, how can Apple claim the high ground with regard to privacy. At the end of the day, it does not matter whether its a bug (in Apple's case) or a feature (in Google's case) it still puts our devices at risk.

C'mon. Even the "high ground" is not invulnerable. I think Apple can say that iOS is the most secure system. People can interpret that as they will. It does matter if it's a feature or a bug. And, of course Apple will change things as soon as they can find Cellebrite's method. Locking out the Lightning data lines was a great start. Google has less of an imperative.
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
18 months ago
We're on 12.3.2 so it's outdated already.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

First Impressions From New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro Owners

Thursday October 22, 2020 4:20 pm PDT by
It's already Friday, October 23, in Australia and New Zealand, which means some customers who purchased an iPhone 12 or 12 Pro already have their new devices in hand. We've seen dozens of reviews of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro from media sites, but now first impressions from regular Apple customers are available. Image via MacRumors reader Boardiesboi New iPhone 12 and 12 Pro owners are...

Early iPhone 12 Tests Show Ceramic Shield is Stronger and More Scratch Resistant Than iPhone 11 Glass

Friday October 23, 2020 1:21 pm PDT by
Apple's new iPhone 12 models are protected by a Ceramic Shield cover glass that has nano-ceramic crystals infused right into the glass to improve durability. According to Apple, Ceramic Shield offers four times better drop protection than the glass used for the iPhone 11 models. YouTube channel MobileReviewsEh conducted some tests on the iPhone 12 using a force meter to compare its performance ...

Apple Distributing New Heated Display Removal Machine for iPhone 12 Repairs

Thursday October 22, 2020 6:20 pm PDT by
Apple is providing Genius Bars and Apple Authorized Service Providers with a new heated display removal fixture for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro repairs, according to information obtained by MacRumors from a reliable source. To open iPhone 12 models, technicians will be required to slide the device into a specialized tray, and then place the tray into the high-temperature fixture for two...

Apple VP Kaiann Drance Interview Addresses Battery Life, MagSafe, and Power Adapter Concerns

Friday October 23, 2020 3:37 am PDT by
Apple's Vice President of iPhone Marketing, Kaiann Drance, has provided a new interview to Rich DeMuro on the Rich on Tech Podcast, to discuss the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro. Although much of the interview repeated points from Apple's "Hi, Speed" event, there were a number of interesting tidbits regarding the affect of 5G on battery life, MagSafe concerns, and the lack of a power adapter in...

Teardown Video Confirms iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Use Same 2,815mAh Battery

Thursday October 22, 2020 9:47 am PDT by
With the iPhone 12 launching on Friday and in just a few hours to Australia and New Zealand, hands-on videos, teardowns, reviews, and other iPhone-related content has been coming out. A new teardown video delves into both the iPhone 12 and the 12 Pro, confirming battery life for both models and giving us a closer look at their internals. The video from Io Technology is in Chinese, but ...

Images of Supposed AirPods Diagnosis Tool Shared Online

Thursday October 22, 2020 5:24 am PDT by
Apple is reportedly rolling out a new tool to Apple service providers for testing AirPods, according to leaker known as "Fudge," who shared images of the tool on Twitter. Apple appears to be seeking to reduce unnecessary AirPods services by more accurately diagnosing the cause of a fault. Instances of a dirt-blockage, which may be difficult to ascertain visually, can apparently be...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Apple's AirTags Revealed in Newly Published Patent Applications

Thursday October 22, 2020 9:13 am PDT by
Two patent applications filed by Apple appear to depict the company's widely expected AirTags item trackers (via Patently Apple). The filings, which include a large number of images, are titled "Mounting Base for a Wirelessly Locatable Tag" and "Fastener with a Constrained Retention Ring," and describe a wirelessly locatable tag that can be used to determine the absolute location of an...

iPhone 11 Pro Outlasts iPhone 12 and 12 Pro in Extensive Battery Life Test

Friday October 23, 2020 8:36 am PDT by
Arun Maini today shared a new side-by-side iPhone battery life video test on his YouTube channel Mrwhosetheboss, timing how long the new iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro models last on a single charge compared to older models, with equal brightness, settings, battery health, and usage. All of the devices are running iOS 14 without a SIM card inserted. In the test, the iPhone 11 Pro outlasted both ...

Apple Warns MagSafe Charger Can Leave Circular Imprints on Leather Cases

Friday October 23, 2020 3:23 pm PDT by
If you keep your iPhone in a leather case while charging with Apple's new MagSafe Charger, the case might show circular imprints from contact with the accessory, according to a new Apple support document published today. Apple's leather cases for the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro are not available until November 6, but a MacRumors reader has already shared a photo of a circular imprint on...