Israeli Cellebrite firm is helping FBI in cracking San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone

Pierluigi Paganini March 23, 2016

The Israeli Cellebrite firm is helping the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in unlocking San Bernardino shooters’ iPhone.

In the last weeks, we have followed the case of the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone that a few days ago reached an unexpected conclusion, the FBI announced on Monday to have found a way to unlock the mobile device without the Apple’s help.

The court filing doesn’t provide technical details on the technique, but confirmed that an independent party demonstrated to the US authorities a technique for unlocking the controversial iPhone.

“On Sunday, March 20, 2016, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking Farook’s iPhone,” revealed the lawyers for the US Government in a court filing Monday afternoon. “Testing is required to determine whether it is a viable method that will not compromise data on Farook’s iPhone. If the method is viable, it should eliminate the need for the assistance from Apple set forth in the All Writs Act Order in this case,” 

Now the name of the company is circulating on the Internet, it is the Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite that is one of the leading companies in the world in the field of digital forensics. The company already works with the principal law enforcement and intelligence agencies worldwide.

Cellebrite provides the FBI with decryption technology as part of a contract signed in 2013, its technology allows investigators to extract information from mobile devices.

“Cellebrite’s technology is able to extract valuable information from cellular devices that could be used in criminal and intelligence investigations, even if the phone and the information it contains are locked and secure.” states a blog post published on the Israeli YNetNews.

The website of the Cellebrite company confirms that its technology allows investigators to unlock Apple devices running iOS 8.x.

“Cellebrite’s Advanced Investigative Services (CAIS) offers global law enforcement agencies a breakthrough service to unlock Apple devices running iOS 8.x. This unique capability is the first of its kind – unlock of Apple devices running iOS 8.x in a forensically sound manner and without any hardware intervention or risk of device wipe.” reports the company website.“Cellebrite’s unlocking capability supports the following devices: iPhone 4S / 5 / 5C, iPad 2 / 3G / 4G,iPad mini 1G, and iPod touch 5G running iOS 8 – 8.0 / 8.0.1/ 8.0.2 / 8.1 / 8.1.1 / 8.1.2 / 8.1.3 / 8.2/ 8.3 / 8.4 / 8.4.1.”

One of its main solutions designed by the company is the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) that could be used to extract all data and passwords from mobile phones.

If Cellebrite will be able to crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, the FBI will no longer need the Apple’s help.

cellebrite ufed-touch

According to public documents, the FBI Feds committed to a $15,278action obligation” with Cellebrite.

At the time I was writing there were no details of the contract between the FBI and the Cellebrite firm.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, hacking)

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