(TFC) – There were a lot of questions following the ‘terrorist attack” in San Bernardino in December of 2015. Reports of multiple shooters, lack of evidence and information from official sources, and the suspicious deaths of the accused terrorist aside, the majority of the controversy coming from establishment sources was over whether Apple should be forced to help the FBI break into one of the suspect’s phones. Ultimately, the FBI found a private company that was able to hack it open, but we had no idea how much that effort cost the government. Until now.
As it turns out, it cost the FBI approximately $900,000 open the locked iPhone. $900,000; and the revelation went largely unnoticed during last Wednesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing with FBI Director James Comey. On Friday the Associated Press realized that Senator Diane Feinstein had inadvertently given out the number.
“I was so struck when San Bernardino happened and you made overtures to allow that device to be opened, and then the FBI had to spend $900,000 to hack it open,” Feinstein said at the hearing. “And as I subsequently learned of some of the reason for it, there were good reasons to get into that device.”
Various news agencies have attempted Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to get the precise figure that the FBI paid but as of yet none had been able to, as the FBI has argued that the number should remain classified. It now appears that Feinstein may have ended that argument for them.
The FBI fought a long and public battle with Apple over the unlocking of the phone. In my opinion, the legal battle was more about setting a precedent and creating a new expectation in the public, (Your provider can’t protect you) than it was about getting valuable information off the terrorist’s phone. That is if there even was any because no such information has been released.
It is unclear what the specifics of the hack entailed, or even who precisely cracked the phone for the FBI. But there are unconfirmed reports that the agency will be able to use the same hack again in the future. Early speculation had put the cost at around $1.3 million, ( which wasn’t too far off, if Feinstein’s numbers are correct).
There are still a lot of things we don’t know about the San Bernardino case, and still heated debate about the role of private tech companies and whether they have to help law enforcement after a terrorist attack, but now at least we know about what it costs for a federal agency to hack into a phone: $900,000. The price seems a bit inflated, like everything else in government, according to experts we contacted someone knowledgeable could hack into your Android for under $1000. Our source, Jackson Stone ,is a professional hacker that specializes in all types of mobile hacks; unrestricted and unnoticeable access to your partner/spouse/anyone’s social network accounts, Email, and voice/text messages. He also makes changes in database/website such as your college/university grades. According to Jackson, one can hack into one’s iPhone, even remotely, but it is quite costly, upwards of $100,000 and involves bribing someone on the inside.
You can watch the video of Feinstein’s slip-up at the 2 hour and 55-minute mark on C-SPAN.