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Curious who’s helping the FBI unlock the San Bernardino iPhone? We may now know

We may now know the identity of the mysterious third-party that earlier this week came forward with a possible solution to unlocking the San Bernardino iPhone.

Apple vs FBI: Tim Cook says Apple won't build backdoor for Feds in San Bernardino case
Apple vs FBI: CEO Tim Cook says Apple won’t build backdoor for Feds in San Bernardino case

Israeli firm Cellebrite, maker of mobile forensic software, is assisting the FBI in cracking the iPhone 5C used by terrorist Syed Farook, according to Yedioth Ahronoth, an Israeli daily.

There’s no word on what solution Cellebrite may have come up with, but if its method is successful, the agency will no longer need Apple to unlock the phone.

The US government and Apple have been locked in a heated encryption battle regarding accessing the device. The FBI had ordered Apple to build special software to circumvent the phone’s security measures. Apple considers this a backdoor into the iPhone that would put hundreds of millions of users at risk.

On Monday, the US Department of Justice revealed in a filing that on March 20, “an outside party” came forward with “a possible method” for unlocking the phone. It asked a judge for time to test the method to determine whether it needs Apple’s assistance after all. The judge granted its request, and the government now has until April 5 to provide an update.

FBI’s helper?

We asked Cellebrite whether it’s assisting the FBI, but were told that because of the nature of an ongoing investigation, the company can’t comment.

In a techradar interview with Jon Case, a security expert, last month, Case pointed to mobile forensic suites like those offered by Cellebrite as one way the FBI may be unable to unlock Farook’s iPhone.

Cellebrite has a Universal Forensics Extraction Device that exploits a bug early in the phone’s boot process, but this machine only works on iOS 7. Farook’s phone runs iOS 9, which has much stronger encryption.

Perhaps Cellebrite found made a tool that can crack iOS 9? We may soon find out. Reuters