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FBI Paid More Than $1 Million To Access San Bernardino iPhone

The FBI paid a hefty sum of more than $1 million for a hacking tool that broke into the iPhone owned by one of the gunmen in the San Bernardino shooting.

While the agency did not give an exact amount, FBI Director James Comey did say that the number adds up to more than seven years and four months' worth of his salary.

According to the FBI and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, his annual salary is $183,300 as of January 2015. Assuming that he doesn't get a bonus or a raise, he will make $1.34 million throughout his remaining term.

As a result, this is the highest publicized paid figure for hacking software, but Comey says it was a valuable deal nevertheless, according to his response when asked how much the organization spent for the tool at the Aspen Security Forum in London.

"A lot. More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months for sure. But it was, in my view, worth it," the director said.

Back in March, the FBI successfully unlocked the iPhone in question, effectively putting an end to the legal bout between the government and Apple over encryption matters.

However, the tussle is far from over, as the FBI is looking into cracking other Apple handsets. While the authorities already have the means to access secured iPhone 5c units running on iOS 9, the same software can't be used on other models. A notable example of that is the iPhone 5s running iOS 7 involved in the recent New York drug case.

In the same vein, Comey responded to questions regarding the implementation of end-to-end encryption on WhatsApp, a move that affects more than 1 billion users.

"There are a significant number of criminals and terrorists that use WhatsApp, and that's a problem,'' Comey said, noting that encrypting communication of that scale "comes at a significant cost."

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