Law Enforcement Agencies Purchase Device to Unlock iPhones

 In Industry News

Unlocking an iPhone may no longer be the arduous task it once was for law enforcement officials. An increasing number of U.S. law enforcement agencies are buying a cost-effective device capable of unlocking iPhones without breaking a sweat. Called GrayKey, the device is a small grey box with two lightning cables that stick out like antennae.

Using the device, two iPhones are connected together for approximately two minutes. While not immediately unlocked upon disconnection, Malwarebytes reports that “some time later, the phones will display a black screen with the passcode, among other information.” Exactly how long it takes to unlock the phone varies, ranging from a few hours to over three days for longer passwords (up to six digits). For passwords even longer than that, there’s no word on timeframe yet. Allegedly, this device works for disabled phones, as well as phones running iOS 11.

GrayKey is meant for law enforcement officials or labs, which means the device is designed specifically for the authorities. Once unlocked, device contents are downloaded to the GrayKey, where they can be further analyzed either on a connected computer, or as a downloaded file.

There are two pricing options available. The first requires internet connectivity and costs $15,000. The $30,000 version does not depend on the internet to work, and has no limit on the number of phones it can unlock. While this may sound expensive, authorities ultimately paid Israeli company Cellebrite $900,000 to unlock the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.

Motherboard reports that multiple police forces — including those in Maryland and Indiana — have already acquired or are considering acquiring a GrayKey. The U.S. State Department may already have one as well, while the Secret Service and Drug Enforcement Administration are also considering making a purchase.

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