In recent years, much has been said about unlock tools for iPhones, like those of Cellebrite and the Grayshift companies that, at least on paper, do business only with law enforcement agencies and sovereign governments.
So far, all the reports, reports and other material written about these tools give the idea that, even if it is possible, unlocking an iPhone without having your password is a difficult, slow and subject to all kinds of errors. For it seems that in this way at least according to the VICE.
The story collected and analyzed more than 500 search warrants and other documents related to cases in which US officials, such as the police or the government, tried to unlock iPhones; with that, it was possible to paint a more concrete scenario about who is doing this skillfully and who is still crawling in the dark.
For example: as expected, top spheres of legal agencies have much more ways to unlock Ma's smartphones. Among the cases in which iPhones managed to have information extracted, a good part of them came from federal agencies, such as the FBI; in cases handled by local police or other smaller agencies, a good part of the devices remained intact or had to be sent to other locations to have their data recovered.
Another factor that makes it difficult to unlock iPhones is the physical state of the devices: in many cases, they are collected after situations of violence and are damaged, making the extraction of information more complex. Still, of the 516 cases analyzed by the magazine, 295 of them were successful in recovering some type of data from the devices, usually text messages, call logs and navigation, and geolocation points.
Such information, at the very least, calls into question the narrative defended by the FBI: since the infamous San Bernardino case, the agency has advocated that Apple create a backdoor on iOS so that she (and other authorities) can access iPhones at her leisure, something Ma has vehemently denied since then.
The justification for the request would be the fact that unlocking an iPhone with third-party tools would be extremely complex, but when we note that, in a sample of 500 cases, more than half of them were successful, something in this FBI justification does not match.
Obviously, the story doesn't stop there: with each new iOS update, Apple makes its system more protected against these unlocking tools, basically creating a cat and mouse game with Cellebrite, Grayshift and limited company. That is, we will see how to be all this in a while.