FBI coughed up less than you thought for iPhone unlock

By

iphone5c
Figure is "well under" the $1.3 million number widely quoted.
Photo: Apple

The feds may not have paid quite as much money as we previously thought to unlock the iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino shooting case — with a new report claiming that it was less than the $1.3 million+ sum widely reported in the media last week.

The $1.3 million figure was based on FBI director James Comey saying that it cost, “more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months.” Since Comey’s salary as of last year was $183,300, he stands to make at least $1.34 million over the remainder of his post at the FBI.

There’s no news on exactly how much was paid but it is reportedly “well under” the figure that’s been bandied around.

The new report also says that the identity of the iPhone 5c hacker is so secretive that not even Comey reportedly knows who it is. Originally it was reported that it was the work of Israeli-tech firm Cellebrite, although more recently it emerged that it may instead have been achieved using a group of professional hackers who specialize in hunting for software vulnerabilities.

Interestingly, while the FBI can use the same hack to unlock other iPhone 5c handsets running iOS 9, it is reportedly unable to share details about how the hack works — since it doesn’t own the rights to the security vulnerability which made it possible.

Ultimately, U.S. law enforcement officials admitted that they weren’t able to find any new information on the handset belonging to San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. Whether that makes the expenditure a waste or not likely depends on whether or not the government is able to use the story to push through new anti-encryption bills as a result.

Source: Reuters