The FBI paid a mighty sum to unlock the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone: $900,000.
In a recent Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey, the information was mistakenly shared by Senator Diane Feinstein. The FBI previously refused to say how much it paid, arguing the amount was classified information.
Following a bitter back and forth between Apple and federal investigators, the Cupertino company told the FBI it would not help create a backdoor to break into its iPhones. Here’s a small portion of a 65-page document written by Apple, arguing against a motion filed by the FBI:
This is not a case about one isolated iPhone. Rather, this is a case about the Department of Justice and the FBI seeking through the courts a dangerous power that Congress and the American people have withheld: the ability to force companies like Apple to undermine the basic security and privacy interests of hundreds of millions of individuals around the globe. The government demands that Apple create a back door to defeat the encryption on the iPhone, making its users’ most confidential and personal information vulnerable to hackers, identity thieves, hostile foreign agents, and unwarranted government surveillance.
After hacking into the San Bernardino terrorist’s iPhone 5c last year, via a third-party vendor, the FBI said it hadn’t found anything of significance on the device. It’s still unclear how the device was cracked—it was previously reported the hackers were able to exploit an “unknown flaw.”
The FBI has said the tool it purchased can only crack the iPhone 5c, though a separate report claims the firm that helped the FBI hack the device can easily hack newer iPhones, too. Whether the FBI plans to purchase new tools to hack into the latest iPhone models remains to be seen. At least we know how much it cost to hack into Apple’s “unapologetically plastic” device.
As of last April, the FBI would not tell Apple how it hacked the iPhone. For its part, the Cupertino company has said it’s more committed than ever to protecting consumers from hacks.