An Israeli cybersecurity firm by the name of Cellebrite has been revealed as the third party source that the FBI are using to crack the security features of the iPhone that was used by the San Bernardino terrorists, and all without the court ordered assistance of Apple.
Cellerbrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, is already under contract to several law enforcement agencies around the world to help with the extraction of encrypted information from all types of computers and mobile devices, including iPhones.
Essentially, Cellerbrite is responsible for creating technology that law enforcement agencies can use to access pretty much everything and anything from mobile devices and other IT related equipment.
The forensic tech group certainly seems to have experience in the area. One report lists the firm as being one of the world’s leading mobile analytical and forensic extraction companies, with an estimated 50% share of the market globally, and around the same amount in the US.
But the clock is ticking for both the FBI and the Israel based company. The FBI has to report back to the court room where it is currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute with the maker of iPhones, Apple, over privacy rights, on April 5th.
The current court case has become a beacon for a broader all-consuming debate about data privacy and the rights of individuals within the US.
The BBC has reported that Cellerbrite would only say that it works with the FBI, but declined to comment further.
The FBI had been demanding that Apple create a special version of their iOS operating system, that would prevent the device from wiping itself if too many incorrect attempts are made via the passcode logon screen
A federal court in the US was due to rule last Tuesday whether the FBI could issue a court order forcing Apple to help them, but the hearing was postponed when the Department of Justice announced that it might not need the tech firm’s assistance because a third-party had demonstrated a possible extraction method to FBI agents.
Cellebrite was established in 1999 as a manufacturer of various data extraction, transfer and analysis devices. It expanded its services in 2007 to add mobile forensics. It currently can access over 15,000 devices, should it need to.