Security & Fraud

FBI Taps Israeli Forensic Firm To Crack iPhone’s Code

A media outlet in Israel is reporting that an Israeli company has been tasked with helping the FBI gain access into the iPhone owned by one of the shooters in last year’s San Bernardino shooting.

Reuters reported on Wednesday (March 23) that Yedioth Ahronoth identified mobile forensic software provider Cellebrite as said company.

Officials at Cellebrite declined to comment on the reports, Reuters said.

Apple remains embroiled in a legal battle with the U.S. Department of Justice, which was temporarily put on hold on Tuesday (March 22), over a judge’s order that the company create new software that will disable its encryption protections and allow “backdoor” access to the device’s data.

The DOJ requested to delay the hearing that was supposed to happen on Tuesday regarding the controversial San Bernardino iPhone case because it claimed it no longer needed Apple’s help to hack into the phone.

The postponement came in the wake of a Sunday (March 20) filing with the United States District Court in Riverside, California, in which the government said an “outside party” showed the FBI there was a possible alternate method to unlock the phone that was used by the terrorist who killed 14 people last December.

The acknowledgement of the possibility of outside help diminished the contention that Apple should have to come to the department’s aid and may, in fact, signal that the government is backing off this claim.

“As the FBI continued to conduct its own research and as a result of the worldwide publicity and attention on this case, others outside the U.S. government have continued to contact the U.S. government offering avenues of possible research,” the filing read.

While Apple may soon win its day in court, that doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to win its battle to protect the phone from any backdoor entry that the FBI may want. In fact, the DOJ essentially is saying it’s going to crack Apple’s code with or without its help.

This also came after Apple’s Big Event, where CEO Tim Cook had some strong words for the U.S. government when addressing the topic of encryption and security.

“Our products are such an important part of people’s daily lives and, with that, comes a significant responsibility. So, before we get started today, I’d like to address something that I know is on the minds of many people this morning. We built the iPhone for you, our customers, and we know that it is a deeply personal device. For many of us, the iPhone is an extension of ourselves. About a month ago, we asked Americans across the country to join in a conversation. We need to decide, as a nation, how much power the government should have over our data and over our privacy,” Cook said during the event.

“We did not expect to be in this position, at odds with our own government, but we believe strongly that we have a responsibility to help you protect your data and protect your privacy. We owe it to our customers, and we owe it to our country. This is an issue that impacts all of us, and we will not shrink from this responsibility,” he continued.

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