New Report Says FBI Paid Less Than $1 Million to Unlock San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone

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Last week, FBI director James Comey hinted at how much the agency paid to unlock San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook's iPhone, saying it cost more than he will make in the next seven years and four months. The number worked out to around $1.3 million, as Comey's annual salary is $183,000. However, sources now tell Reuters that the amount was actually under $1 million.


Although the FBI says it will keep the technique it used to unlock Farook's iPhone 5c a secret, sources tell Reuters that the agency can use the method on other iPhone 5c's running iOS 9. The FBI has physical possession of the mechanism used to unlock the phone and does not need to pay the contractor any more money for further uses.

The contractor responsible for the method is a closely-held secret within the FBI, with Comey being in the dark himself, according to Reuters' sources. In mid-April, it was reported that the FBI hired "professional hackers," at least one of which is a gray hat researcher that sells flaws to governments, black market groups or surveillance companies.

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Article Link: New Report Says FBI Paid Less Than $1 Million to Unlock San Bernardino Shooter's iPhone
 

JustThinkin'

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Oct 21, 2014
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I'm not surprised. I figured he was thinking of the salary he actually sees, not what he makes before taxes. I was a bit surprised when MR assumed such precise math on the story in the first place.
 

MH01

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Feb 11, 2008
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And they got pretty much no information out of it.
They paid for the method of accessing.
Even if they got loads of info, they would not disclose it, cause for obvious reason that would be completely stupid from an intelligence point of view.
 

mw360

macrumors 68000
Aug 15, 2010
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And they got pretty much no information out of it.
Did you read the article? They now have a mechanism to unlock any iPhone5C. Time will tell how useful that turns out to be in other cases.

We can preach about ideals all we like, but in the real world where things are messy, this isn't an ideal result. The FBI has more power now than they asked for, at least in respect of the 5C . And all that bleating about 'the backdoor would eventually be leaked' is moot, because this backdoor is already out there. Unlike a deliberate backdoor it can't be shut down the moment it leaks. Apple are going to have to trace this hacker and pay millions of dollars to buy his revenue stream off him. And then, as per their usual policy, they will leave all iOS8 & 7 devices vulnerable anyway because it turns out all this caring about your security is just marketing to drive sales and device updates.
 
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djgamble

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Oct 25, 2006
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I'm not surprised. I figured he was thinking of the salary he actually sees, not what he makes before taxes. I was a bit surprised when MR assumed such precise math on the story in the first place.
Not sure why it has anything to do with his salary anyway. It's a software license... anybody with experience in IT contracts would realise that many millions would be spent by th FBI on stuff like Microsoft Word.

This is a private hack and is likely being used by the FBI on a daily basis for less high profile matters. I know for fact that the Australian police have tools that can hack just about any phone and download EVERYTHING... (sadly) these are used every day because paedophiles are all like 'nooo you can't open my phone!! It's my rights and privacy!!! [Insert incoherent human rights rant.]

Crims aren't very cooperative and $1,000,000 for a SUPER hack (that Apple don't know the mechanism of) is a bargain... and a drop in the ocean for an agency with access to billions.

IT contracts are usually in the millions (whereas public servants are usually on modest salaries.) So what? This proves nothing. Installing Siebel and Portal based systems is gonna cost minimum $30 million for an entire agency (I'd suggest more for the FBI.) $1,000,000 to hack the most secure and most popular phone on the market is nothing.

Had Apple cooperated we'd be in a better position because the FBI wouldn't have obtained this tool (for daily usage.) Also, we'd know which exploit is being used (and it would be patched with every release.) Now we have an unknown exploit being used... arguably a rogue cop could copy it onto a flash drive use it for malicious purposes. GREEEEEAT! Thanks for taking your libertarian BS stance Apple!
 

jonnysods

macrumors 603
Sep 20, 2006
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Man the government are such responsible stewards of the people's resources.

Wonder what it's like to work at a place with little to zero accountability to your actual bosses/people you represent.
 

ArtOfWarfare

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Nov 26, 2007
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We won't spend more than $5B/year on cancer research, the #1 killer in the US that impacts everyone in the form of dead family and friends, but oh, hey, useless iPhone, let's blow $1M on cracking it to help nobody. Let's spend $500B on a few thousand high tech jets that are utterly worthless in the actual conflicts we're involved in (we're fighting a few thousand terrorists who have ~2 aircraft to their name - why do we need 2000 air-air fighter jets? The only foe they could be useful against would be China or Russia, and we haven't fought either of them in many decades. We're all nuclear powers... None of us would dare strike another, because it'll end civilization everywhere if we do.)
 

Thunderhawks

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Feb 17, 2009
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Had Apple cooperated we'd be in a better position because the FBI wouldn't have obtained this tool (for daily usage.) Also, we'd know which exploit is being used (and it would be patched with every release.) Now we have an unknown exploit being used... arguably a rogue cop could copy it onto a flash drive use it for malicious purposes. GREEEEEAT! Thanks for taking your libertarian BS stance Apple!
The 5C was released with an older iOS and by now we are on 9.3.

So, many holes have been closed since, as evidenced by the fact that jailbreaking has gotten more difficult. I think there wasn't one for 9.2.1/
For 9.3 there is only a statement that it can be done. At least last thing I read.

Now Apple is on alert and will make it even more difficult.

To assume that criminals will be caught with what is on their phones is not realistic. Criminals are usually way ahead of law enforcement.

Apple did the right thing protecting the privacy of millions. As it turns out there are still plenty of ways to crack iOS and the FBI found one, just by doing it's job.

Had the FBI not engaged in this p**sing contest many of the possible ways would not have been exposed. (Stripping down chips, hooking up something that allows multiple guesses, etc. etc. as was published)

In summary, no government should be allowed to tell a free company what to do with it's products.

Want help FBI? Do it quietly and figure it out.
 

thisisnotmyname

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Oct 22, 2014
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What a bargain.

Obviously I haven't done it personally so maybe it's more difficult than I think but what I've read about the replay attack it seems like something I could build given a week of my spare time and an Arrow catalog. Someone got a fantastic pay day.
 
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edk99

macrumors 6502a
May 27, 2009
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Good thing I give half my paycheck to the government so they have plenty of money to pi$$ away.
That is nothing compared to what they would of spent taking Apple to court to force them to unlock it. 1 million dollars is a bargain.
 

El Hikaru

macrumors regular
Dec 3, 2013
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It was originally announced as a duel of titans. Now it sounds like two kids fighting for colorful candies.
 

dannyyankou

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Mar 2, 2012
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They paid for the method of accessing.
Even if they got loads of info, they would not disclose it, cause for obvious reason that would be completely stupid from an intelligence point of view.
Did you read the article? They now have a mechanism to unlock any iPhone5C. Time will tell how useful that turns out to be in other cases.
I realize that, but the 5c is probably Apple's least actively used iPhone. Accessing a mechanism that will be obsolete in a couple years seems like a waste.
 

MH01

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I realize that, but the 5c is probably Apple's least actively used iPhone. Accessing a mechanism that will be obsolete in a couple years seems like a waste.
They sold plenty . There are still lots of people on 4S units, saying the 5C will be obsolete in a few years... Zero evidence to support that. The 5 hardware is still going strong.

We are talking 5C or "older" that is a huge amount of active phones. This is not just the 5C

In the grand scheme, now in 2016, to have access to millions and millions of these phones for under $1 million is a bargain.

Im sure bad guys would buy a second hand unit, instead of buying a new one with a trail. Preference would be a stolen older unit .
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It was originally announced as a duel of titans. Now it sounds like two kids fighting for colorful candies.
They both got the publicity they wanted from it.