Government agencies and police departments across the United States are increasingly buying an iPhone-cracking tool called GrayKey, according to a new report.
In this day and age, security is among the main concerns when it comes to various devices and services. Apple has relentlessly defended security and refused to give law enforcement access to its iPhones, or create a backdoor.
Perhaps the most famous proof of Apple's testament to security is the 2016 case involving the iPhone 5c of one of the San Bernardino shooters, when the company refused to unlock the device for the FBI.
Law Enforcement Using iPhone Unlock Tool
Since Apple refuses to unlock its iPhones, Motherboard reports that local police departments, as well as federal law enforcement agencies, are increasingly using GrayKey, a somewhat cheap tool designed to bypass the encryption.
Public records show that the State Department, along with the State Police in Maryland and Indiana, have purchased GrayKey. The Drug Enforcement Agency and the Secret Service, meanwhile, reportedly plan to acquire the tool as well. The police departments in Miami-Dade and Indianapolis have either purchased the technology or sought it.
Malwarebytes previously reported that GrayKey can unlock two iPhones at once, and all it requires it connecting it to a phone for a couple of minutes. After unplugging it -- depending on complexity -- the software will display the passcode.
A four-digit iPhone passcode would reportedly take a few hours to crack, while six-digit passcodes could take up to three days. Six-digit passwords are the most commonly used nowadays as they are considered more secure and therefore tougher to crack than four-digit ones.
GrayKey iPhone-Cracking Tool Price
Back in 2016, when the San Bernardino case made waves, the feds paid $900,000 to an Israeli company to unlock the shooter's iPhone 5c, after Apple refused to do it itself.
The GrayKey iPhone-cracking tool, meanwhile, is available in two editions that cost $15,000 and $30,000, respectively. Compared to the whopping $900,000 the feds paid back in 2016, both editions seem highly affordable. The $15,000 edition allows the unlocking of up to 300 devices, which would come off as $50 per device. GrayKey reportedly works even on devices running on iOS 11.
It remains unclear at this point just how many iPhones police and law enforcement agencies have managed to unlock so far using GrayKey, but Apple is expected to patch the security holes that allow the technology to crack its encryption.
Apple has yet to offer an official statement on this matter.