It was Aussies, not Israelis, who cracked the San Bernardino iPhone

From AppleInsider's "Firm that unlocked San Bernardino shooter's iPhone for FBI is revealed" posted Wednesday:

Even Apple could not find out which firm the FBI used to unlock one of the San Bernardino shooters' iPhones — but a new report claims to know the secret company that did the work.

Despite much speculation in 2016 that the FBI hired Cellebrite to unlock the shooter's iPhone 5C, it's only now that the real company has been named. It's an Australian defense contractor called Azimuth Security, now part of L3Harris Technologies.

According to The Washington Post, Azimuth is a "publicity-shy" firm, but it has been known to be involved in producing hacking tools for the US, Canadian, and UK governments. Apple has been suing Azimuth over its selling of virtual iPhones to government agencies attempting to unlock the devices.

Nonetheless, Apple did not determine that it was Azimuth that had aided the FBI. The San Bernardino iPhone it ultimately unlocked became the center of a high-profile dispute between Apple and the FBI.

My take: As it happens, Kara Swisher pressed Tim Cook about this incident in last week's Sway podcast. From the transcript:

Kara Swisher: Several years ago, you were in a fight over encryption. This is after the 2015 San Bernardino terrorist attack. The FBI asked Apple to build a backdoor to unlock the attacker’s phone. You opposed the order, citing the danger to privacy.

Tim Cook: Yes, we cited the danger to hundreds of millions of customers because you can’t build a singular backdoor. The backdoor that they were asking for was in the operating system and would affect everybody that owns an iPhone.

Kara Swisher: And then the Justice Department ended up unlocking the iPhone without Apple’s help.

Tim Cook: Yep.

Kara Swisher: Where do you stand now on that?

Tim Cook: I think it was the right fight. I think encryption is still under fire today. There’s still people that believe that the government should have a — should either have a key or have access to a key or have a door or access to a door. And our point of view hasn’t changed on that. It’s that once you have a back door, you have a back door for everybody. There’s not a way in technology today to have a back door just for the good guys.


  1. Greg Lippert said:
    Who says the gov’t are the good guys? Please…

    April 14, 2021
  2. Jerry Doyle said:
    Where a demand exists, an effort evolves to supply it. The catalyst to link a successful fulfillment of relationship between the two usually entails remunerative compensation or an ordinate passionate drive to execute a cause predicated on a principle, ideal, goal or movement. In this scenario, the catalyst most likely always is remunerative compensation, although I never would rule out completely an inordinate passionate drive to fulfill a cause.

    April 14, 2021
  3. Steven Philips said:
    I believe another article said it cost the FBI $900,000.00 and yielded no useful information.

    April 14, 2021
  4. Fred Stein said:
    Only slightly OT, this just in:

    “FBI Hacks Hundreds of US Computers, Kills Microsoft Exchange Web Shells”

    From SDXCentral

    April 14, 2021

Leave a Reply