21 February 2017

Busting an iPhone ain't cheap

From the BBC, an article about the FBI:

Three news organizations have asked a US judge to force the government to reveal the amount it paid for technology to unlock an iPhone used by the San Bernardino, California gunman. In the court filings, the organizations said that there was "no adequate justification" for the FBI to continue to withhold the information. They added that they did not seek information that would jeopardize national security.The groups sued the FBI last year, but the FBI has never named the security firm or group of hackers who helped unlock the phone, which was used by killer Syed Rizwan Farook.The process would have involved finding a way to bypass the passcode on a locked phone. In normal circumstances, if ten incorrect attempts at the code are made, the device will automatically erase all of its data."While it is undisputed that the vendor developed the iPhone access tool, the government has identified no rational reason why knowing the vendor's identity is linked in any way to the substance of the tool, much less how such knowledge would reveal any information about the tool's application," lawyers for the news organizations wrote in the filing to the US District Court in Washington, DC. "Release of this information goes to the very heart of the Freedom of Information Act's purpose, allowing the public to assess government activity: here, the decision to pay public funds to an outside entity in possession of a tool that can compromise the digital security of millions of Americans."Farook and his wife killed fourteen people in California in December of 2015.In February of 2016, a court order demanded that Apple help unlock the phone, something which Apple resisted, saying said it was unable to do so. It added that it hoped that the government would share with the company any vulnerabilities of the iPhone that might come to light.There was speculation that the FBI paid at least a million dollars to break into the phone, based on calculations following comments by FBI director James Comey, who said that the agency had paid more to get into the phone than he "will make in the remaining seven years" in his post. He added that it was worth it, even though no details of what was found have been released.
Rico says that Apple wasn't cooperating, so the Feebs decided to spend a lot of gummint money...

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