“A Motherboard investigation has found that law enforcement agencies across the country have purchased GrayKey, a relatively cheap tool for bypassing the encryption on iPhones, while the FBI pushes again for encryption backdoors,” Joseph Cox reports for Motherboard. “FBI Director Christopher Wray recently said that law enforcement agencies are ‘increasingly unable to access’ evidence stored on encrypted devices. Wray is not telling the whole truth.”

“Police forces and federal agencies around the country have bought relatively cheap tools to unlock up-to-date iPhones and bypass their encryption, according to a Motherboard investigation based on several caches of internal agency documents, online records, and conversations with law enforcement officials,” Cox reports. “Many of the documents were obtained by Motherboard using public records requests.”

“The news highlights the going dark debate, in which law enforcement officials say they cannot access evidence against criminals. But easy access to iPhone hacking tools also hamstrings the FBI’s argument for introducing backdoors into consumer devices so authorities can more readily access their contents,” Cox reports. “The GrayKey itself is a small, 4×4 inches box with two lightning cables for connecting iPhones, according to photographs published by cybersecurity firm Malwarebytes. The device comes in two versions: a $15,000 one which requires online connectivity and allows 300 unlocks (or $50 per phone), and and an offline, $30,000 version which can crack as many iPhones as the customer wants. Marketing material seen by Forbes says GrayKey can unlock devices running iterations of Apple’s latest mobile operating system iOS 11, including on the iPhone X, Apple’s most recent phone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote last month:

Needless to say, if they haven’t already, Apple should get their hands on these boxes and patch whatever security hole(s) the boxes are exploiting.

Obviously, the very existence of this MalwareBytes report proves the folly of “backdoors” that are only for the good guys.

“There have been people that suggest that we should have a back door. But the reality is if you put a back door in, that back door’s for everybody, for good guys and bad guys.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook, December 2015

“This is not about this phone. This is about the future. And so I do see it as a precedent that should not be done in this country or in any country. This is about civil liberties and is about people’s abilities to protect themselves. If we take encryption away… the only people that would be affected are the good people, not the bad people. Apple doesn’t own encryption. Encryption is readily available in every country in the world, as a matter of fact, the U.S. government sponsors and funs encryption in many cases. And so, if we limit it in some way, the people that we’ll hurt are the good people, not the bad people; they will find it anyway.” — Apple CEO Tim Cook, February 2016

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Law enforcement uses ‘GrayKey’ box to unlock iPhones – March 16, 2018