Feds No Longer Need Apple Consent To Crack Nearly Any iPhone Thanks To Cellebrite iOS 11 Exploit

Cellebrite, an Israeli company known for selling solutions to law enforcement agencies around the globe to unlock smartphones, is back in the news again. This time around, the company is touting a new solution that would make it possible to crack just about any device that is currently running Apple's iOS 11 operating system.

To understand why this announcement is so pivotal, we must rewind to just over two years ago. Following the San Bernardino terrorist attack that left 14 people dead in late 2015, Apple and the U.S. Department of Justice got into a war of words about device encryption and backdoor software access, bringing the subject to a mainstream audience. Law enforcement officials -- lead primarily by the FBI -- argued that they needed access to one of the perpetrators' iPhones for national security reasons. Apple argued that providing backdoor access to the FBI or other agencies could lead to a reduction in security for all of its customers and stood its ground.

iphone x

In the end, the FBI ended up gaining access to the iPhone 5c thanks to software [reportedly] made by Cellebrite. Now, Cellebrite's ability to crack encryption on iPhones extends to all current hardware capable of running iOS 11 including the iPhone X. According to sources for Forbes', the latest hack to circumvent Apple security was perfected over the past few months and is being shopped around to Cellebrite's usual law enforcement clientele.

Cellebrite describes its services, writing, "These new capabilities enable forensic practitioners to retrieve the full file system to recover downloaded emails, third-party application data, geolocation data and system logs, without needing to jailbreak or root the device.

"This eliminates any risk in compromising data integrity and the forensic soundness of the process. This enables access to more and richer digital data for the investigative team."

The company's "Advanced Unlocking & Extraction Services" guide [PDF] has been updated to reflect its new capabilities, citing the ability to crack "iPhone, iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro and iPod touch, running iOS 5 to iOS 11."

We should note that Android devices aren't immune from Cellebrite's tentacles either, as it can access data on "Samsung Galaxy and Galaxy Note devices; and other popular devices from Alcatel, Google Nexus, HTC, Huawei, LG, Motorola, ZTE, and more."