The FBI has recently required Apple to unlock two iPhones allegedly used by the shooter at a Florida naval base, but as it turns out, the investigators might actually not need the company’s help to extract data from these devices.
A new report from Forbes reveals that the FBI recently turned to third-party hacking tools to break into an iPhone 11 Pro Max, also involved in a criminal investigation.
FBI investigators in Ohio reportedly used a “GrayKey” hardware box to unlock an iPhone 11 Pro Max belonging to Baris Ali Koch, who was accused of helping his convicted brother flee the country by providing him with his own ID documents and lying to the police. Koch has entered a plea agreement and is currently awaiting sentencing.
It has been confirmed that Koch’s iPhone was locked using a passcode when the FBI got their hands on the device and that his device passcode was never revealed to law enforcement, nor was Koch forced to use Face ID to unlock the device.
“Koch had not given it to them nor did they force the defendant to use his face to unlock the phone via Face ID, as far as the lawyer was aware,” reads the report. “The search warrant document obtained by Forbes, dated October 16, 2019, also showed the phone in a locked state, giving the strongest indication yet that the FBI has access to a device that can acquire data from the latest iPhone.”
GrayKey is a tool created by Grayshift that can reportedly be used to break iPhone encryption and passwords. It’s a small gray box that can be connected to two iPhones at a time, it can be used to brute force passwords, but it can also download an iPhone’s entire file system to be viewed through a web-based interface.
Since the FBI managed to break into the most secure iPhones to date, it’s very clear the investigators already have the necessary means to break into Apple’s devices without any help from the Cupertino-based tech giant.
And yet, FBI investigators are still pressuring Apple to unlock iPhones, with US President Donald Trump himself calling for the company to step in and help law enforcement extract data from devices involved in criminal investigations.