Article Lead Image

Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr

FBI offers its new iPhone hack to local law enforcement agencies

'We are in this together,' said the FBI's letter to local cops.


Jay Hathaway


Posted on Apr 3, 2016   Updated on May 27, 2021, 12:10 am CDT

After acquiring a “mystery method” to unlock an encrypted iPhone last month, the FBI is now offering to help local law enforcement break into phones, too, according to a notice obtained by BuzzFeed News.

BuzzFeed reported that an advisory sent to local police touted the bureau’s success in cracking the iPhone of San Bernardino shooter Syed Farook. 

“In mid-March, an outside party demonstrated to the FBI a possible method for unlocking the iPhone,” FBI Assistant Director Kerry Sleeper wrote. “That method for unlocking that specific iPhone proved successful.” 

Now the agency is offering “technical assistance” to local cops who want to access suspects’ encrypted data. 

“Please know that we will continue to do everything we can to help you consistent with our legal and policy constraints. … We are in this together,” the advisory concludes.

Just days ago, police in Arkansas asked for FBI assistance unlocking an iPhone and iPod belonging to two teenage murder suspects. At the time, the bureau hadn’t yet decided whether to get involved.

The FBI’s method of cracking the iPhone 5C remains unknown, despite calls from privacy advocates to reveal it to Apple so it can be patched to protect users. One widespread rumor claims the agency purchased the exploit from Israeli firm Cellebrite, but that remains unconfirmed.

H/T BuzzFeed | Photo via Kārlis Dambrāns/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Share this article
*First Published: Apr 3, 2016, 11:59 am CDT