Apple Inc. continues to defy the FBI’s request for help, but there are other firms that operate in the dark and offer services to clients when official methods of retrieving data fail. One firm with experience in cracking devices such as smartphones is Cellebrite, and to everyone’s surprise, this security firm, which is believed to have signed a deal with the FBI to crack the San Bernardino iPhone 5c, counts Apple as one of its customers.
Apple uses Cellebrite devices in stores
Cellebrite is believed to be the mysterious third-party aiding the FBI in retrieving data from the iPhone used by one of two San Bernardino shooters, says a report by Associated Press. The security firm creates devices that let law enforcement agencies retrieve and decode information from more than 15,000 kinds of smartphones and other mobile devices, including pictures, text messages, and contacts.
The Associated Press says the security firm not only has contracts with the FBI dating back to 2014, but also has commercial products, which can be used to transfer data from old phones to the new ones. Also, the reports claim that Apple Inc. uses Cellebrite devices in some of its stores.
Cellebrite is not the only one firm looking to make a name for itself in this market, there are other firms, who prefer to stay in the dark as they don’t need or want publicity. For a security firm, finding exploits and not disclosing them is the key to being successful.
Cellebrite claims that its commercial software does not work on the iOS 9, which is running on the San Bernardino iPhone, but it works on the iPhones running on older operating systems including iOS 8. However, the security firm is believed to have some special tools that can possibly crack Apple’s latest operating system.
Many other firms in this line of work were interviewed by the Associated Press, but these firms are not helping the FBI in the investigation. Rook Security is one of them, and it told AP that they created a copy of the iPhone’s flash memory, hoping to crack the iPhone’s lock screen protection. The efforts were suspended by Rook Security when it couldn’t unlock the iPhone without damaging its memory chip.
Some experts believe the same method is being used by the FBI in the case. FBI Director James Comey said on Thursday that it’s not applying this method as it might compromise the integrity of the handset.
Apple wants the court to wait for FBI’s hacking efforts
The FBI believes it can retrieve contents of the iPhone used by one of the two terrorists in the San Bernardino shooting without Apple’s help. Based on this, Apple wants the judge to delay government demands for data from a locked iPhone in a Brooklyn drug case. Late Thursday, Apple’s attorney – Marc Zwillinger – requested District Judge Margo Brodie in Brooklyn to postpone deadlines until the Department of Justice reports the FBI’s findings to a California judge.
The Brooklyn case will be influenced by the result in California regardless of what the Justice Department concludes regarding its ways of regaining data without Apple’s help, said Zwillinger. The attorney also said that if the same method can be used to unlock the iPhone in the Brooklyn case, then there will be no need of Apple’s assistance.
The government will be providing updates about its efforts to access iPhones without Apple Inc. ’s help, to a California magistrate judge on April 5. Zwillinger has requested for the delay of Apple’s March 31 deadline to submit papers in the Brooklyn case until both the sides propose a new briefing schedule in the Brooklyn matter by April 11.