Cellebrite Says it Can ‘Get Around the Security of Devices Running iOS 11’

BY Evan Selleck

Published 26 Feb 2018

iPhone X Home screen

Security is one of the tentpole features for Apple, and it is paramount for all of its consumer-ready devices, from the Apple Watch to the iMac.

This is seen as a good thing for many Apple customers, and it is one area that Apple itself does not appear willing to budge on. This is visible in a variety of ways, from the company’s CEO, Tim Cook, saying as much, and even in features like Siri, which lags behind the leading competition due to Apple’s focus on security (among other reasons).

Still, bypassing that security is an area some companies would love to exist in. And now one may exist. According to a report from Forbes, the Israel-based vendor Cellebrite is currently telling its customer base that it can bypass the security implementations placed within iOS 11, and can access all devices running that software.

Indeed, the report indicates that Cellebrite was able to access and extract data from an iPhone X running iOS 11 — but the specifics are not known right now. The report indicates that the iPhone X raid happened in December of last year, but what, exactly, Cellebrite extracted from the device is unknown.

According to the report, an iPhone 8 was also accessed via the new methods developed by Cellebrite.

If Cellebrite is a name that seems familiar, it’s because it became a big deal back in 2016 when the company was being tasked by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in the United States to unlock an iPhone 5c, a device that was being used by one of the shooters in the San Bernardino mass shooting incident. However, conflicting reports quickly surfaced, and it was later reported that the FBI actually used “professional hackers” instead of Cellebrite.

Our Take

This is one of those situations, like so many, where the details are the most important part. While it’s possible that Cellebrite did indeed break into iOS 11 and extract data, there is no word on what data that was, or if it was actually helpful in the slightest. What’s more, Apple has released more than one update to iOS 11 since December of 2017, and while those updates were meant to address other issues, it’s possible that Apple was also patching those exploits, too.

Basically, the rule of thumb still stands: Keep your device updated to the most recent version of the operating system available.

[via Forbes]