Cellebrite is an Israeli forensic company that has made a bold claim to unlock any iPhone or iPad. On Friday, it tweeted its product called as a Universal Forensic Extraction Device or UFED. It goes further to share that the UFED premium works till iOS version 12.3, iPad and even some Android handsets such as the Samsung Galaxy S9.
Cellebrite is proud to introduce #UFED Premium! An exclusive solution for law enforcement to unlock and extract data from all iOS and high-end Android devices. To learn more, click here: https://t.co/WHsaDxzoXz pic.twitter.com/BSixEkyAuL
— Cellebrite (@Cellebrite_UFED) June 14, 2019
This is a bold brag, that too first of its kind from a law enforcement contractor. For your reference, the previous big unlock tool- GrayKey devices, sold by the Atlanta-based company Grayshift operated stealthily with the US police. Apparently, GrayKey devices work for at least some versions of iOS 12.
“This will allow investigators access to newer and updated devices that they didn’t have access to before,” says Sarah Edwards, a forensics researcher for the security training group the SANS Institute.
The purpose of these tools such as GrayKey and the new Cellebrite UFED premium is to help the cops to unravel illicit data for better law enforcement. Cellebrite is believed to be the company that the FBI relied upon to unlock iPhone 5C of the terrorist behind the San Bernardino attack of December 2015.
But, regardless of the purpose, the way both GrayKey and UFED premium are distributed could be a grave problem. They are sold as an “on-premises” tool, allowing police to buy the company’s hacking device and use it themselves. And allegedly, they are available on eBay too. So, they could fall into the hands of criminals or repressive governments. That not only risks Cellebrite’s IP but prominently puts the privacy within the whole smartphone ecosystem to risk.