This Is What Hacking an iPhone Actually Looks Like + Hidden Details

Hacking an iPhone with Cellebrite Credit: TheMacMan
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If you’ve ever wondered what hacking an iPhone looks like, a forensic analyst has posted an image to Reddit that gives you a peek behind the curtain.

According to the Redditor, TheMacMan, the image in question actually shows what extracting a file system from a locked iPhone looks like. More specifically, the image is using Cellebrite extraction tools that take advantage of the Checkm8 exploit.

TheMacMan added that they’ve worked in computer forensics for 10 years and have helped create hacking tools used by law enforcement. But no, TheMacMan doesn’t work at Cellebrite.

Of course, while hacking an iPhone is possible, it’s still by no means easy. As some Redditors pointed out in the comments, an attacker would still need to have a passcode to pull anything of interest from the file system.

How a law enforcement entity goes from pulling a filesystem to getting usable data from an iPhone is still unclear. There are a few possibilities, however.

Once an attacker gets your iPhone’s filesystem, they could theoretically try brute forcing the passcode (putting in thousands of combinations until they get the correct one). Of course, they’ll undoubtedly be able to get around the wrong passcode limits of an iOS device.

But that still doesn’t deal with the Secure Enclave and other aspects of iPhone security. Again, the details are still murky, but these are government organizations with a slew of resources we’re talking about. Interestingly, TheMacMan didn’t chime in with any additional details about the encryption bypass process, but they did add a few more interesting tidbits about iPhone hacking in general.

iPhone Hacking Hidden Details

For one, TheMacMan expanded on the hacking devices that appeared on eBay, stating that those tools actually lacked a required component that could actually hack an iPhone. Without that component, they’re useless.

Additionally, despite there being a ton of iPhone and iOS exploits currently on the market, TheMacMan added that most security companies use their own tools and techniques to hack devices.

They also added on some of their beliefs. Despite working in computer forensics, TheMacMan actually said that they support Apple’s strong stance on security and privacy.

“I fully support what Apple is doing and don’t believe they should have backdoors in their products. Once they’ve done so for someone like the FBI a single time they can then be compelled to do so again and again any time they like,” TheMacMan wrote.

On the other hand, TheMacMan did point out that law enforcement entities are using these iPhone exploits, for the most part, for good causes, including catching dangerous criminals.

All in all, it’s an interesting — if brief — look at a world that most iPhone users are unfamiliar with. While Cellebrite is well-known for being the company that apparently helped the FBI crack multiple iPhones, the exact details of that hacking are still incredibly murky.

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