Apple-FBI

On February 16, 2016, a U.S. federal judge ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into the iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino.

The FBI asked Apple to create a version of iOS that would both disable passcode security features and allow passcodes to be entered electronically, allowing it to then brute force the passcode on the device.

Apple announced that it would oppose the order in an open letter penned by Tim Cook, who said the FBI's request would set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of smartphone encryption. Apple said the software the FBI asked for could serve as a "master key" able to be used to get information from any iPhone or iPad - including its most recent devices - while the FBI claimed it only wanted access to a single iPhone.

Apple's dispute with the FBI ended on March 28, 2016 after the government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone through the help of Israeli firm Cellebrite and withdrew the lawsuit.

'Apple-FBI' Articles

FBI Has Still Not Managed to Unlock iPhone Used by Mass Shooter in Florida Last Year

FBI officials have still not managed to unlock a passcode-protected iPhone that investigators believe was owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the perpetrator of a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida in December. The disclosure was made by FBI director Christopher Wray at a House Judiciary Committee hearing today, according to Bloomberg. Wray told Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) that the FBI is "currently engaged with Apple hoping to see if we can get better help from them so we can get access to that phone," the report claims. Last month, the FBI asked Apple for its assistance with unlocking the iPhone in a letter sent to the company's chief lawyer Katherine Adams. U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General William Barr have called on Apple to assist the FBI with accessing data on the iPhone, but the company previously said that it has given investigators "all of the data in our possession" and said it "will continue to support them with the data we have available." In a follow-up statement, Apple said that while it was "devastated to learn of the tragic terrorist attack" at the Naval Air Station, creating a backdoor into iOS would threaten national security in the United States:We have always maintained there is no such thing as a backdoor just for the good guys. Backdoors can also be exploited by those who threaten our national security and the data security of our customers. Today, law enforcement has access to more data than ever before in history, so Americans do not have to choose between weakening encryption and solving investigations. We

New York Law Enforcement Officials Operate $10 Million Lab Designed to Crack iPhones

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. built and oversees a $10 million high-tech forensics lab built expressly for the purpose of cracking iPhones, according to a new profile done by Fast Company. The lab is equipped with "mind-bending hardware" and a team of technology experts, many of whom are ex-military. The facility itself features a radiofrequency isolation chamber that prevents iPhones being used in investigations from being accessed remotely to keep them from being wiped. Vance's team has thousands of iPhones at the facility in various stages of being cracked. There's a supercomputer that generates 26 million random passcodes per second, a robot that can remove memory chips without using heat, and specialized tools for repairing damaged devices to make them accessible once again. All of the iPhones are hooked up to computers that are generating passcodes in an effort to get into the iPhones, and sometimes that requires going through tens of thousands of number combinations. Those who work at the facility, including director Steven Moran, also attempt to narrow down possibilities using birthdays, significant dates, and other info that could be used in each specific case for an iPhone passcode. Proprietary workflow software tracks all of the iPhones at the facility, including their software and their importance, for the purpose of deciding which ‌iPhone‌ to work on and which might be able to be cracked using a newly found third-party solution. Vance has been a major critic of Apple and has called on the government to introduce anti-encryption

Apple Reportedly Dropped Plans for End-to-End Encrypted iCloud Backups After FBI Objected

More than two years ago, Apple informed the FBI that it planned to roll out end-to-end encryption for iCloud backups, according to Reuters. Apple ultimately dropped the plan at some point after the FBI objected, although the report notes that it is unclear if the federal agency was a factor in the decision. A former Apple employee told Reuters that the company did not want to risk scrutiny from public officials for potentially protecting criminals, being sued for making previously accessible data out of reach of government agencies, or the move encouraging new legislation against encryption. "They decided they weren't going to poke the bear anymore," the person said, after Apple's legal battle with the FBI in 2016 over unlocking an iPhone used by a shooter in the San Bernardino, California attack. In that case, the FBI ultimately found an alternative method of unlocking the iPhone. Apple faces a similar standoff with the FBI over refusing to unlock two passcode-protected iPhones that investigators believe were owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the suspect of a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last month. Apple said it has provided the FBI with all data in its possession. Apple has taken a hard line on refusing to create a backdoor into iOS that would allow the FBI to unlock password-protected iPhones to assist in their investigations, but it does provide data backed up to iCloud to authorities when lawfully requested, as outlined in its semiannual Transparency Reports. Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this

FBI Successfully Unlocks iPhone 11 Pro in Ohio, Casting Doubt on Claims it Needs Apple's Help in Florida Mass Shooter Case

New questions have been raised about the FBI's latest request that Apple break its iPhone encryption, after Forbes uncovered a search warrant strongly indicating that federal agents already have tools that can access data on Apple's latest ‌iPhone‌ models. The report says that FBI investigators in Ohio recently used the GrayKey hardware box to unlock an iPhone 11 Pro Max. The ‌iPhone‌ belonged to Baris Ali Koch, who was accused of helping his convicted brother flee the country by providing him with his own ID documents and lying to the police. He has now entered a plea agreement and is awaiting sentencing. Koch's lawyer confirmed to Forbes that the ‌iPhone‌ was locked with a passcode when it got in the hands of the FBI and that the code was never revealed to law enforcement, nor was the defendant forced to use his face to unlock the phone via Face ID. Created by a company named Grayshift, GrayKey is a portable gray box that has previously been used by law enforcement to crack the passcode on iPhones. Complete details on how the latest GrayKey works are not known, although Apple continually works to fix the kinds of exploits used by such devices. Ohio FBI search warrant Forbes has previously revealed a GrayKey brochure that showed it worked on older devices, and the two iPhones acquired by the FBI in the most recent Pensacola case are an ‌iPhone‌ 5 and an ‌iPhone‌ 7, which strongly suggests that investigators are already capable of unlocking them. President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr have also weighed in on the latest ‌iPhone‌

Donald Trump Calls on Apple to 'Step Up to the Plate' and Unlock iPhones Used by Florida Mass Shooter

United States President Donald Trump this afternoon weighed in on a disagreement between Apple and the FBI, calling on Apple to "step up to the plate" and "help our great country" by unlocking the iPhones used by Florida shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. Trump said that the U.S. is "helping Apple all of the time" but Apple refuses to "unlock" smartphones used by "killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements." The Twitter rant comes following a request yesterday from U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who asked Apple to unlock the iPhone 5 and iPhone 7 used by Alshamrani. Barr complained that Apple had provided "no substantive assistance" and said that it is critical "that the public be able to get access to digital evidence." We are helping Apple all of the time on TRADE and so many other issues, and yet they refuse to unlock phones used by killers, drug dealers and other violent criminal elements. They will have to step up to the plate and help our great Country, NOW! MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 14, 2020 Apple previously said that it had provided all of the information in its possession (such as iCloud backups) to the FBI earlier in the month after the FBI asked for assistance obtaining the shooter's data. Law enforcement officials are not satisfied with the iCloud data, however, and want Apple to provide a way to unlock the shooter's iPhones, which is not possible without a backdoor into the software. After Barr's request, Apple issued another statement and provided further detail on the data that

U.S. Attorney General Asks Apple to Unlock iPhones Used by Florida Mass Shooter [Updated]

United States Attorney General William Barr today asked Apple to unlock the iPhones used in mass shooting last month at a naval air station in Pensacola, Florida, reports The New York Times. The request comes as the shooting has been declared an act of terrorism, and it follows a report last week that the FBI sent a letter to Apple asking for help accessing two iPhones used by shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. "This situation perfectly illustrates why it is critical that the public be able to get access to digital evidence," Mr. Barr said, calling on Apple and other technology companies to find a solution and complaining that Apple has provided no "substantive assistance."Apple has already provided law enforcement officials with information from Alshamrani's iCloud account, but the two iPhones are passcode protected (one is also damaged from gunfire) and Apple has in he past taken a strong position against providing access to locked iPhones. Apple last week said that it had already provided all of the information in its possession to the FBI.We have the greatest respect for law enforcement and have always worked cooperatively to help in their investigations. When the FBI requested information from us relating to this case a month ago, we gave them all of the data in our possession and we will continue to support them with the data we have available.Justice department officials claim to need access to the iPhones to see messages from encrypted apps like Signal or WhatsApp to find out if Alshamrani discussed his plans or had help. In 2016, Apple had a major

FBI Reportedly Asks Apple to Help Unlock Passcode-Protected iPhones Used by Mass Shooter in Florida

In a letter sent late Monday to Apple's general counsel Katherine Adams, the FBI has asked Apple to help unlock two iPhones that investigators believe were owned by Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who carried out a mass shooting at a Naval Air Station in Florida last month, according to NBC News. The report claims the iPhones are passcode protected, and one of them appears to be damaged by gunfire. In a statement to NBC News, Apple said it has already provided all of the data in its possession to the FBI:We have the greatest respect for law enforcement and have always worked cooperatively to help in their investigations. When the FBI requested information from us relating to this case a month ago, we gave them all of the data in our possession and we will continue to support them with the data we have available.Apple faced a similar situation in 2016, when a U.S. federal judge ordered the company to help the FBI unlock an iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino, California. Apple opposed the order, noting that it would set a "dangerous precedent" with security risks. Apple's dispute with the FBI ended in just weeks after the U.S. government found an alternate way to access the data on the iPhone and withdrew the lawsuit. Based on its statement, it appears that Apple will continue to take a hard line on refusing to unlock iPhones for the FBI. Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site

FBI 'Grossly Inflated' Statistics on Investigations Stymied by Encrypted Smartphones

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation provided Congress with "grossly inflated" statistics on the number of electronic devices it has been been unable to access due to encryption, reports The Washington Post. Last year, the FBI claimed to have been locked out of close to 7,800 devices that were connected to crimes, but the actual number of devices that were inaccessible is smaller, closer in scope to between 1,000 and 2,000. The FBI discovered an error in the method used for counting encrypted smartphones last month, and has not yet completed a full internal audit to determine the correct number. "The FBI's initial assessment is that programming errors resulted in significant over-counting of mobile devices reported," the FBI said in a statement Tuesday. The bureau said the problem stemmed from the use of three distinct databases that led to repeated counting of the same phones. Tests of the methodology conducted in April 2016 failed to detect the flaw, according to people familiar with the work.The FBI's inflated numbers are a problem because FBI director Christopher Wray has, at several points in time, used those statistics to warn of the dangers criminals using encryption to "go dark" and evade law enforcement oversight. Back in October, for example, Wray said the inability to access such a large number of encrypted smartphones was a major problem. "To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem," said Wray. "It impacts investigations across the board - narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime,

Anti-Surveillance Coalition That Includes Apple Condemns Proposals for Device Backdoors

The Reform Government Surveillance coalition, which includes several major tech companies who have teamed up to lobby for surveillance law reform, this week released a statement condemning recent proposals for backdoor access into electronic devices and reaffirming a commitment to strong encryption. The coalition is made up of multiple tech companies who have taken a strong stance against weakening encryption, including Apple, Google, Microsoft, Dropbox, Snap, Evernote, LinkedIn, Oath (owned by Verizon) and Facebook.Reform Government Surveillance recently announced a new core principle on encryption that will guide our advocacy efforts, and we continue to believe that strong encryption helps protect the security and privacy of individuals and companies around the world. We have consistently raised concerns about proposals that would undermine encryption of devices and services by requiring so-called "exceptional access" for law enforcement. Recent reports have described new proposals to engineer vulnerabilities into devices and services - but they appear to suffer from the same technical and design concerns that security researchers have identified for years. Weakening the security and privacy that encryption helps provide is not the answer.As ZDNet points out, the statement comes following a WIRED article profiling Microsoft chief technical Ray Ozzie and his suggestion for a solution called "Clear" that would supposedly provide law enforcement with access to encrypted data with less security risk. Ozzie's proposal uses a public key and a private key (housed and

'GrayKey' iPhone Unlocking Box Seeing Wide Adoption Among Law Enforcement

GrayShift's recently publicized "GrayKey" box designed to crack locked iPhones is seeing wide adoption among police forces and federal agencies across the United States according to a recent investigation by Motherboard. Motherboard found that regional police forces like the Maryland State Police, the Indiana State Police, and the Miami-Dade County Police have purchased or are soon purchasing GrayKey technology, while other forces like the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department have looked into boxes and received quotes from GrayShift. GrayKey box, via MalwareBytes The Secret Service is also planning to purchase "at least half a dozen" GrayKey boxes for unlocking iPhones, while the State Department has already bought them and the Drug Enforcement Administration has expressed interest. Current FBI Director Christopher Wray said in January at the International Conference on Cyber Security that law enforcement officials are facing a "Going Dark" challenge where an "enormous" number of cases rely on an electronic device. "We're increasingly unable to access that evidence, despite lawful authority to do so," said Wray. Motherboard's investigation into GrayShift, the GrayKey iPhone unlocking boxes, and other smartphone unlocking methods suggest that is not the case. The FBI uses the going dark debate to advocate for easier access to electronic devices through backdoors, but the seemingly readily available tools like GrayKey undermine these arguments."It demonstrates that even state and local police do have access to this data in many situations," Matthew Green,

FBI Didn't Investigate All Unlocking Options Before Seeking Order for Apple's Help in San Bernardino Case

Back in early 2016, the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation failed to pursue all possible solutions to unlock the iPhone 5c owned by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook before demanding Apple's help accessing the device, reports Reuters. The information was shared today in a report issued by the Department of Justice's Office of the Inspector General. According to the report, the FBI's in-house unit that handles breaking into mobile devices did not begin looking for outside help to unlock Farook's iPhone until the night before the FBI demanded Apple's help through a court filing. The FBI was aware that one of the vendors contacted at that point in time had "almost 90 percent completed" a technical solution that would allow the FBI access to the phone. The FBI, though, in its court filing with Apple at the time, said there were no other options for accessing the device. A judge ended up ordering Apple to help federal investigators access the data on Farook's iPhone by creating a tool that would bypass the auto-erase function and allow investigators to submit an unlimited number of passwords to attempt to unlock the iPhone. Apple, of course, opposed the order and refused to build such a tool, leading to a long and drawn out legal battle with the FBI that only ended when the FBI admitted it had indeed found another way to access the device. Communication failures at the FBI were to blame, causing some officials to "misunderstand the status" of the FBI's efforts to open the device. That led to delays seeking help from the FBI and the vendor that

Craig Federighi on Renewed Government Push for Backdoor Device Access: 'Weakening Security Makes No Sense'

Law enforcement officials are revisiting proposals that would require tech companies to build backdoor access into electronic devices to allow for better access to data in criminal investigations, reports The New York Times. This is an issue that was heavily debated following the 2016 legal dispute between Apple and the FBI over the iPhone 5c that belonged to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. The government wanted Apple to create software that would allow them to access data on the device, which Apple refused to do. In response to rumors over renewed efforts to build such a tool, Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi told The New York Times that weakening security protections in iOS devices would be a grave mistake, maintaining Apple's stance on the issue."Proposals that involve giving the keys to customers' device data to anyone but the customer inject new and dangerous weaknesses into product security," he said in a statement. "Weakening security makes no sense when you consider that customers rely on our products to keep their personal information safe, run their businesses or even manage vital infrastructure like power grids and transportation systems."Apple has continually argued for the need for improvements to device security to stay ahead of hackers and other bad actors who exploit security vulnerabilities in iOS devices. During the dispute over the San Bernardino device, Apple refused to build a backdoor tool into its devices and argued that if such a tool existed, it could easily end up in non-government hands. Federighi has previously

FBI Forensic Examiner Stephen Flatley Calls Apple 'Jerks' and 'Evil Geniuses' for Encrypting iPhones

Senior FBI forensic examiner Stephen R. Flatley spoke at the International Conference on Cyber Security yesterday, and during the talk he discussed Apple and the FBI's differing opinions on the topic of smartphone encryption. According to Motherboard, Flatley described the company as "jerks" and "evil geniuses" for creating iOS device encryption that is so powerful as to prevent Apple itself from entering users' iPhones. Flatley said that recent updates to Apple device encryption have made password guesses slower, by increasing hash iterations from 10 thousand to 10 million, "making his and his colleagues' investigative work harder." This extended brute force crack time from a few days to two months, leading to Flatley stating that Apple is "pretty good at evil genius stuff." No detailed context was given regarding his "jerks" comment. Image of Stephen Flatley taken by Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai via Motherboard That means, he explained, that “password attempts speed went from 45 passwords a second to one every 18 seconds,” referring to the difficulty of cracking a password using a “brute force” method in which every possible permutation is tried. There are tools that can input thousands of passwords in a very short period of time—if the attempts per minute are limited, it becomes much harder and slower to crack. "Your crack time just went from two days to two months," Flatley said. “At what point is it just trying to one up things and at what point is it to thwart law enforcement?" he added. "Apple is pretty good at evil genius stuff." Flatley's comments come

FBI Didn't Ask Apple for Help Unlocking Texas Shooter's iPhone in First 48 Hours [Updated]

In the aftermath of a deadly shooting at a Texas Church on November 5th, the FBI and other law enforcement agencies failed to immediately ask Apple for help unlocking shooter Devin Patrick Kelley's iPhone, reports Reuters. According to a source that spoke to Reuters, the FBI did not contact Apple for about 48 hours after the shooting, missing a critical window where the iPhone in question might have been easier to unlock. If the iPhone had Touch ID enabled, the shooter's finger might have been able to be used to unlock the device. But that unlocking method would have needed to be used within a 48 hour window, as Touch ID is disabled after 48 hours have passed since it was last activated or when the iPhone is powered off. Christopher Combs, head of the FBI's San Antonio field office, said on Tuesday that the shooter's smartphone is being transferred to the FBI's crime lab in Quantico, Virginia as authorities have not been able to unlock it. Little is known about the shooter's smartphone at this time. Sources told the Washington Post that it's an iPhone, but it's not known which iPhone it is nor which version of iOS it's running. It's also not known if Touch ID was indeed enabled on the phone at this point. As we learned with the San Bernardino case, Apple will not provide authorities with the tools to unlock the iPhone, but the company can and will provide iCloud data if compelled by court order. It is not known if Apple has already received a court order asking for iCloud information. Update: Apple has provided a statement on the situation with the

FBI Unable to Retrieve Encrypted Data From 6,900 Devices Over the Last 11 Months

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation was unable to retrieve data from 6,900 mobile devices that it attempted to access over the course of the last 11 months, reports the Associated Press. FBI Director Christopher Wray shared the number at an annual conference for the International Association of Chiefs of Police on Sunday. During the first 11 months of the current fiscal year, Wray says the 6,900 devices that were inaccessible accounted for half of the total devices the FBI attempted to retrieve data from. Wray called the FBI's inability to get into the devices a "huge, huge problem." "To put it mildly, this is a huge, huge problem," Wray said. "It impacts investigations across the board -- narcotics, human trafficking, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, gangs, organized crime, child exploitation."Wray did not specify how many of the 6,900 devices the FBI could not access were iPhones or iPads running a version of Apple's iOS operating system, but encryption has been an issue between Apple and the FBI since last year when the two clashed over the unlocking of an iPhone 5c owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino. The FBI took Apple to court in an attempt to force Apple to create a version of iOS that would disable passcode security features and allow passcodes to be entered electronically, providing the FBI with the tools to hack into the device. Apple refused and fought the court order, claiming the FBI's request could set a "dangerous precedent" with serious implications for the future of

FBI Can Keep Details of iPhone Hack Secret, Rules Judge

The FBI doesn't have to identify the company it contracted to unlock an iPhone used by one of the shooters in the 2015 California terror attack that killed 14 people, a federal judge ruled on Saturday (via Politico). Three news organizations – USA Today, Associated Press, and Vice Media – sued the FBI last year under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to try to force the agency to reveal the name of the company and the amount it was paid to unlock the device. In the original complaint, the news organizations argued that the public had a right to know how the government spent taxpayer funds in the case. They also claimed the existence of a flaw in the iPhone could be a danger to the public. However, U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan ruled this weekend that the information is exempt from mandatory disclosure under the government transparency law. In her ruling, released Saturday night, Chutkan said the identity of the firm that managed to unlock the iPhone and the price it was paid to do so are classified national security secrets and constitute intelligence sources or methods that can also be withheld on that basis. She also ruled that the amount paid for the hack reflects a confidential law enforcement technique or procedure that is exempt from disclosure under FOIA.A battle between Apple and the FBI began in early 2016 when Apple refused to help the government unlock shooter Syed Farook's iPhone 5c under the belief that it could set a bad precedent for security and privacy. The FBI didn't know what was on the device at the time, but believed that any

Senator Reveals FBI Paid $900K for Hacking Tool Used to Open San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

A year after the public disagreement between Apple and the FBI, which centered on the passcode-locked iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino terrorist, one of the major questions remains how much the United States government and the FBI paid for the tool it used to crack open the iPhone. That question became so focused upon that a trio of news organizations filed a lawsuit to find out the exact amount that the tool cost the FBI. Speculation in the midst of the Apple-FBI drama placed the price of the tool at upwards of $1.3 million, and then somewhere below $1 million. A recent statement by senator Dianne Feinstein appears to confirm the latter estimation, with Feinstein revealing that the U.S. government paid $900,000 to break into the locked iPhone 5c. The classified information came up during a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing, where Feinstein was questioning FBI director James Comey (via The Associated Press). Senators Charles Grassley and Dianne Feinstein "I was so struck when San Bernardino happened and you made overtures to allow that device to be opened, and then the FBI had to spend $900,000 to hack it open," said Feinstein, D-Calif. "And as I subsequently learned of some of the reason for it, there were good reasons to get into that device." In the ongoing lawsuit filed by the Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett, the organizations cite the Freedom of Information Act: "Release of this information goes to the very heart of the Freedom of Information Act's purpose, allowing the public to assess government activity - here, the decision to pay public

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

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. Cellebrite's CAIS now supports lawful unlocking and evidence extraction of iPhone 4S/5/5C/5S/6/6+ devices (via our in-house service only).— Shahar Tal (@jifa) February 22, 2017 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,

News Organizations Refocus FBI Lawsuit to Question Cost of San Bernardino iPhone Hack Tool

A trio of news organizations -- consisting of the Associated Press, Vice Media, and Gannett -- have petitioned a judge in the United States to force the FBI to reveal the exact amount of money it paid for the technology used to crack open an iPhone used by San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook (via BBC). The same group of news organizations sued the FBI last September to gain more information about how exactly the FBI entered the iPhone, what "outside party" helped with the process, and how much the government paid for it. The new filing appears to tone down that original lawsuit with a focus on the amount spent on the hack tool, and not how it works or who exactly provided it. Although the FBI never confirmed the rumors, it was widely reported that Israeli mobile software developer Cellebrite was hired to get into Farook's iPhone 5c. A price for the developer's services has only ever been speculated upon. According to the court filing acquired by the BBC, the three news organizations claim that there is "no adequate justification" for the FBI to continue to withhold the information related to the cost of opening the iPhone. The information they ask for is also specified as not a risk to national security if it does become public, as they simply want "to learn more about the circumstances surrounding the event." "While it is undisputed that the vendor developed the iPhone access tool, the government has identified no rational reason why knowing the vendor's identity is linked in any way to the substance of the tool, much less how such knowledge would reveal any

Hacker Leaks Cellebrite's iOS Bypassing Tools, Tells FBI 'Be Careful What You Wish For'

It's been nearly a year since a U.S. federal judge originally ordered Apple to help the FBI hack into an iPhone owned by Syed Farook, one of the shooters in the December 2015 attacks in San Bernardino. As we learned in the months after the initial court order -- which Apple continually opposed -- the FBI enlisted the help of Israeli mobile software developer Cellebrite to open up the iPhone 5c in question. Now a hacker has reportedly stolen and publicly released a cache of Cellebrite's most sensitive data, including its tools used to hack into older iPhones, as well as Android and BlackBerry smartphones (via Motherboard). Techniques that the firm uses to open "newer iPhones" were not included in the public posting, but it's also not clear exactly which models of iPhone are considered "older." Farook's iPhone 5c, which launched in 2013, is likely in that category. Apple's main stance against the court order last year was its fear that creating such an operating system that bypassed the iPhone's basic security features -- essentially creating a "master key" for all iOS devices -- would set a "dangerous precedent" for the future of encryption and security. The bypass could also potentially make its way into the public and affect hundreds of millions of Apple customers, with Apple CEO Tim Cook claiming that the software the FBI wanted to use to force open Farook's iPhone was "the equivalent of cancer." As pointed out by Motherboard, the newly leaked tools "demonstrate that those worries were justified." According to the hacker in question who shared Cellebrite's