The FBI logo is seen through an iPhone camera at the bureau's headquarters in Washington, D.C
The FBI logo is seen through an iPhone camera at the bureau's headquarters in Washington, D.C

FBI reportedly working with Israel's Cellebrite to unlock San Bernadino iPhone

Cellebrite is reportedly the 'non-governmental third party' which may have found a way to gain access to the iPhone

Doug Bolton
Thursday 24 March 2016 16:04

Cellebrite, an Israeli mobile forensics firm, is reportedly the company helping the FBI break into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernadino attackers.

If Cellebrite succeeds in cracking the iPhone, the FBI would no longer need Apple's co-operation, possibly bringing the ongoing legal battle between the two parties to a close.

As reported by Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth, who cited industry experts familiar with the case, Cellebrite is allegedly the “non-governmental third party” referenced by prosecutors who have come up with a method which could possibly gain access to the locked phone.

As Reuters reports, on Monday a federal judge agreed to the government's request to postpone a Tuesday court hearing after learning of the third party's solution, possibly so it could be tested.

In the aftermath of the December 2015 San Bernadino attacks, in which 16 people (including the attackers) were killed and 24 injured, the FBI uncovered an iPhone 5C which was owned by one of the two shooters.

Suspecting it to contain information which could help their investigations, the FBI asked Apple to help break into the phone, which is protected with a passcode lock.

Apple have refused, due to security and privacy concerns, and are currently involved in a court case with the government over whether they have to unlock the phone.

Cellebrite focuses on two main areas of business - a forensics system used by police, military and intelligence organisations to retrieve data hidden inside mobile devices, and technology for mobile retailers.

The company has helped out law enforcement in investigations in the past - their products have been used to uncover digital evidence which brought a number of criminals to justice, including a network of online sexual extortionists based in the Phillipines.

The FBI and Cellebrite declined to comment on the matter.

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