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FBI turns to Israel-based Cellebrite to break into the iPhone

March 23, 2016

Yesterday, March 22, we learned that Apple’s day in court over the San Bernardino iPhone 5c was being delayed, perhaps indefinitely. We didn’t know who was going to be helping the Federal Bureau of Investigations break into the iOS device, or what method they were going to use. The answer to that question may lie overseas in Israel, if the latest reports are accurate.

If it is indeed the “third party” in question, and it is able to break into the terrorist’s iPhone, it would bring the high-stakes legal showdown between the government and Apple to an abrupt end.

- Yedioth Ahronoth

According to Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth (via Reuters), a mobile foresnic software provider named Cellebrite is behind the latest attempts to help the FBI gain access to the iPhone in question. Cellebrite declined to either confirm or deny its involvement in the case.

Cellebrite is considered one of the leading digital forensics companies in the world, and has been regularly working with some of the world’s top intelligence, defense, and law enforcement authorities for many years, according to Yedioth Ahronoth. Since a contract initiated in 2013, Cellebrite has provided the FBI with decryption technology.

Hopefully, Cellebrite will find a way into the iPhone 5c, even though I doubt the device holds anything useful for investigators. Ending, even temporarily, the demands of Apple to develop a back door into iOS can only be looked at as a good thing. If Cellebrite is unable to unlock the device before April 5, though, it is likely that prosecutors will resume looking to Apple to solve the dilemma.