FBI Pressed to Reveal iPhone Hack Cost

FBI Pressed to Reveal iPhone Hack Cost
Media firms are pressuring the FBI to disclosed what it paid to break in to the San Bernardino gunman's iPhone.

(CCM) — Pressure on the FBI is mounting to reveal how much it paid an unknown technology company or security expert for software that it used to hack in to an iPhone belonging to the San Bernardino gunman, according to a BBC report. The software bypassed Apple's passcode security system that is supposed to prevent anyone without the passcode from accessing the data in a locked iPhone. If ten incorrect attempts are made to enter the passcode then an iPhone will normally erase all of the data it contains. Lawyers acting for three news organizations hoping to find out who made the software and how much the FBI paid for it have issued a Freedom of Information filing to the U.S. District Court in Washington. It pointed out that the software could "compromise the digital security of millions of Americans," adding that it hoped that the government would share with the company any vulnerabilities of the iPhone that might come to light, according to the BBC.

In February 2016 a court ordered Apple to unlock the iPhone, but Apple said that it was unable to do so. As a result the FBI had to pay someone to access a vulnerability in Apple's security system that had previously not been made public and may still be unknown to Apple. The BBC says that the FBI may have paid at least $1.3 million to use the vulnerability, based on comments by FBI director James Comey who said that the agency had paid more than he will make in the remaining seven years in his post. Cybersecurity company Zerodium offers to pay security researchers up to $1.5 million for fully functional and previously unknown ways to exploit vulnerabilities in Apple's iOS operating system.

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