FBI may have contacted “grey hat” hacker group along with Cellebrite to unlock San Bernadino iPhone 5c

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Date: Wednesday, April 13th, 2016, 08:56
Category: Hacks, iOS, iPhone, Legal, News, security, Software


The plot continues to thicken.

A group of unnamed sources cited by the Washington Post contradict the widely-held belief that it was Israel-based mobile forensics company Cellebrite which helped the FBI hack into the locked San Bernardino iPhone. The report say that the agency was instead approached by a group of freelance hackers who revealed an iPhone passcode vulnerability to the FBI in return for a one-time fee.

The researchers, who typically keep a low profile, specialize in hunting for vulnerabilities in software and then in some cases selling them to the U.S. government. They were paid a one-time flat fee for the solution.

The story goes back to a $15,000 invoice sent from Cellebrite to the FBI around the time the FBI suggested that it was looking for a third-party to enable access to the locked iPhone 5c. The FBI is known to have been a long-term client of Cellebrite, further corroborating initial reports.

The Washington Post report indicates that another group, which blended both “white hat” hackers and “black hat” hackers, was contacted to unlocked the device. White hat hackers typically discover vulnerabilities in systems and report them as needed while black hat hackers exploit these vulnerabilities in order to create malware, this putting this group in somewhat murky ethical territory.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.

Via 9to5Mac and the Washington Post

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