In the aftermath of the FBI's surprising request on Monday to postpone a hearing in its legal crusade to unlock Apple cellphones, many wondered who it was that had succeeded in penetrating the supposedly unhackable smartphone. Earlier today Reuters provided the answer: the FBI's effort is being assisted by Israel's Cellebrite, a provider of mobile forensic software, which is now helping the Feds in their attempt to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California shooters, the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper reported on Wednesday.
If Cellebrite succeeds, then the FBI will no longer need the help of Apple Inc, the Israeli daily said, citing unnamed industry sources. It will also mean that the entire Apple "stand" for privacy and consumer rights was one big theatrical spectacle as both parties involved clearly were aware the iPhone can be penetrated with the right tools. Aptly enough, said tools have been found in Israel.
Cellebrite officials declined to comment on the matter.
Cellebrite, a subsidiary of Japan's Sun Corp, has its revenue split between two businesses: a forensics system used by law enforcement, military and intelligence that retrieves data hidden inside mobile devices and technology for mobile retailers.
For those who are not familiar with the story, Apple is engaged in a legal battle with the U.S. Justice Department over a judge's order that it write new software to disable passcode protection on the iPhone used by the shooter.
The two sides were set to face off in court on Tuesday, but on Monday a federal judge agreed to the government's request to postpone the hearing after U.S. prosecutors said a "third party" had presented a possible method for opening an encrypted iPhone.
The development could bring an abrupt end to the high-stakes legal showdown which has become a lightning rod for a broader debate on data privacy in the United States, coincidentally right after Apple's latest big product announcement which was for all intents and purposes, a major dud.