FBI Reportedly Turns to Israeli Company for iPhone Hacking Assistance

Officials will neither confirm nor deny that forensic software company Cellebrite is helping the feds break into the iPhone used by the San Bernardino mass shooter.

by Joe Nelson, San Bernardino County Sun / March 24, 2016

(TNS) — Officials with the U.S. Justice Department and an Israeli forensic software company Cellebrite would neither confirm nor deny reports that the latter is assisting the FBI in hacking into the work-issued iPhone used by San Bernardino mass shooter Syed Rizwan Farook.

“We have no comment at this point,” Justice Department spokesman Thom Mrozek said Wednesday.

Mike Reilly, a spokesman for Cellebrite, also would not clarify reports that the company was the “third party” assisting the government, as was mentioned in a Justice Department court filing Monday announcing it may be able to access the iPhone in question without the assistance of Apple Inc.

“Unfortunately Cellebrite will not be able to offer any comment on the FBI/Apple topic at this time,” Reilly said.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth was the first to report Wednesday that Cellebrite was assisting the government in its efforts. The story was posted on the AppleInsider webpage.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Monday asked federal magistrate Judge Sheri Pym to vacate a hearing scheduled for Tuesday after announcing a third party suggested a possible method for unlocking the encrypted iPhone.

Pym on Monday also stayed her Feb. 16 order compelling Apple to build software that would allow the FBI to hack into Farook’s iPhone, which was found in a black Lexus parked outside Farook’s Redlands residence during a search by investigators following the attack.

The Justice Department will provide a status report to Pym by April 5.

Farook, 28, and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, 29, stormed the Inland Regional Center in San Bernardino on Dec. 2, killing 14 people and wounding 22 others in a mass shooting the FBI declared the deadliest terrorist strike on U.S. soil since 9/11.

The FBI concluded the Redlands couple responsible for the attack were radicalized Muslims who had been planning a mass casualty attack. Most of those killed and wounded in the shooting were Farook’s colleagues who worked as health inspectors with San Bernardino County’s Environmental Health Services Division, who were attending a training seminar at the center the morning of the shooting.

Cellebrite is a 16-year-old global tech company that often assists law enforcement agencies across the globe in accessing electronic data from mobile devices.

©2016 the San Bernardino County Sun (San Bernardino, Calif.), Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

 

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