Your iPhone is incredibly secure, but it isn’t unhackable. As evidence of that, a mobile device hacking firm called Cellebrite says it can unlock any iPhone — even those running the latest version of iOS. Here’s what you should know.
Cellebrite & iPhone Hacking
If you aren’t familiar, Cellebrite is an Israeli mobile data extraction and forensics firm. It’s also a U.S. government contractor, and at one point, the firm was rumored to have helped the FBI break into the iPhone 5c belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters.
On Friday, Cellebrite updated its services page to reflect its newest offerings. More specifically, the webpage now says the company can “perform a full file system extraction on any iOS device.” That includes extracting data from devices running the latest iOS 12.3 update.
The company’s other services range from figuring out passcodes and bypassing Lock screen encryption for Apple devices. Cellebrite’s services are available to any law enforcement agency that can afford it (although, thankfully, not to private citizens).
Cellebrite’s services aren’t restricted to iOS devices, either. On its webpage, the firm says it can also unlock higher-end Android devices like those from Samsung, Motorola, Huawei or LG.
Don’t Be Too Worried
Of course, this news shouldn’t exactly come as a shock to Apple aficionados. Data extraction and hacking firms regularly debut new tools and systems that can break into locked iPhones. Apple typically patches those tools shortly after it discovers them.
It’s a cycle that repeats every year or so. In fact, we wrote basically this same piece last year. At the time, Cellebrite boasted that it could unlock any version of Apple’s mobile operating system up to iOS 11. Those vulnerabilities were eventually fixed.
Beyond that, these type of hacking tools
All of this is to say that you shouldn’t be worried about these types of tools being used against you in every day life. (Unless they fall into the wrong hands, which has unfortunately happened on more than one occasion.)
Your Device and Privacy
If there is something to be concerned about, it’s the fact that Cellebrite is just one of several firms that offer high-profile iPhone hacking services to law enforcement and intelligence agencies across the globe. In addition to those legitimate entities, there’s also an underground gray market dedicated to bypassing the encryption on iPhones.
On the other side, there’s Apple — who is quickly becoming the “privacy as a service” company. Apple puts a lot of emphasis on securing its hardware and software. But there’s no guarantee that this will be the case forever.
The Five Eyes intelligence network has claimed that “privacy is not an absolute.” There are also signs that future legislation could mandate backdoors and encryption bypasses for Apple’s devices.
So privacy isn’t a guarantee by any means. But, in the meantime, Apple’s devices should keep your data relatively safe — even with hacking firms like Cellebrite around.