Digital forensics firm Cellebrite released a new tool that could be used to access data on the iPhones.
The company's latest version of the UFED Physical Analyzer software takes advantage of the “checkm8” exploit and can be used by law enforcement agencies and other customers in order to extract and analyze information on some iPhones.
UFED now supports full file system extractions, which also include the keychain extraction from unlocked iOS devices (known passcode or none set), and a partial file system (Before-First-Unlock) from locked devices with an unknown passcode. The tool supports the iPhone 5S, first sold in 2013, through the iPhone X, sold in 2017.
Cellebrite said that new OS versions may require additional research and development to support them. "In future versions, checkm8 may allow examiners to perform deep, “selective” extractions to directly extract specific applications or files, which will save valuable time during investigations," the company added.
The tool could help investigators analyze at least one of the iPhones that belonged to Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, the perpetrator of a Dec. 6 terrorist attack at a Navy base in Florida. Alshamrani died and his iPhone 5 and iPhone 7 were locked, leaving the FBI looking for ways to hack into the devices.
The FBI has been pressing Apple to help it break into the attacker’s iPhones. President Donald Trump called on the company to step up. But the government can hack into the devices without the technology giant, experts in cybersecurity and digital forensics said on Tuesday.
Israel-based Cellebrite offers a “UFED Physical Analyzer,” a special “Touch2” tablet and software for PCs called “4PC” to law enforcement agencies and other customers. That all costs about $15,000. There’s often an annual maintenance fee of more than $4,000, too. The FBI would likely also need other tools to unlock the iPhones, such as Grayshift’s GrayKey or Cellebrite Premium, a special on-premise service for law enforcement agencies. Those could cost $100,000 to $150,000.