The security of the iPhone is one of the main priorities for Apple, but in the last few years we’ve seen a rise in hardware solutions that can compromise the iOS security system providing access to the content stored on the device.
Devices such as the GreyKey or Cellebrite were exclusively available for purchase for law enforcement but they have started to be listed for sale on eBay and this is something Apple is surely not happy with.
Apple continues to refuse to cooperate with law enforcement in order to unlock the phones of arrested suspects so the authorities have started to look for alternate methods.
An Israeli company called Cellebrite launched an expensive hardware solution two years ago that promised to unlock any iPhone available on the market. The company has released a new version and now law enforcement agencies are trying to get rid of the old Cellebrite model in order to buy the new one.
While Cellebrite suggests old devices be returned in order to be safely recycled, many of them ended up being available for sale on eBay at extremely low prices. There are Cellebrite devices listed for sale on eBay at prices between $100 and $1000, which can – in theory – unlock many iPhone models. The situation is very complicated because many of the devices listed for sale on eBay still include personal data that was collected from people who were arrested by the authorities.
There are even videos online created by people who bought them showing the Cellebrite menu options and advanced features of the devices such as cloning SIM Cards or copying the phone book. What is more serious is that the security system of the Cellebrite device is not very advanced and some users who bought them unlocked, without a password, managed to get into the Cellebrite operating system.
Most of the users who bought the Cellebrite devices are users who are – in general – passionate about technology and they are curious how to hack the iPhone to collect data. Some users even managed to modify the operating system of the Cellebrite in order to run the DOOM game and other apps.
The fact that the Cellebrite devices are now out there can be negative for Apple because the Cupertino giant can no longer guarantee that the personal data of stolen devices is 100% safe. For Cellebrite however the situation is even worse because Apple might get its hands on such a device and study it in order to find a solution for future Cellebrite devices not to work anymore.