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Oh, great! NYC law enforcement can probably hack your phone now

Oh, great! NYC law enforcement can probably hack your phone now
[Photo: Jack Finnigan/Unsplash]

New York City law enforcement can now hack your iPhone or Android phone from the comfort of the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, according to a report from OneZero.

The DA’s office reportedly paid about $200,000 for a three-year contract with Cellebrite, the secretive Israeli forensics company that boasts the ability to extract data from iOS and Android devices. Prosecutors reportedly have to keep Cellebrite’s UFED software in a secured room.

Cellebrite and the DA’s office both declined to confirm the contract’s existence, according to OneZero, but some court records reportedly confirm prosecutors have the ability to unlock phones. Previously, they had to take the devices to a Cellebrite facility in New Jersey, which could add jurisdictional headaches in executing warrants.

There’s long been an apparent cat-and-mouse game between Apple, high-end Android vendors, and Cellebrite, one of a handful of security vendors that offer law enforcement the ability to get encrypted evidence off phones.

While Cellebrite doesn’t disclose its list of customers, they are occasionally divulged through public contracts. The Daily Beast reported last month that Immigration and Customs Enforcement had signed a $30 million contract with the company for UFED technology and related services, though the agency declined to reveal the details of what it was paying for and how it intended to use it.

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