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

An Israeli firm's name floats up

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.

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, 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 the FBI's ongoing investigation, the company can't provide comment. Cellebrite has worked with the FBI on other investigations, a spokesman told us.

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 able to unlock Farook's iPhone.

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

Perhaps Cellebrite succeeded in creating a tool that can crack a phone running the newer OS? Time may tell.

Via Reuters

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News Editor (US)

As the US News Editor, Michelle (Twitter, Google+) keeps her eye on all things tech with particular interest on phones, tablets and finding out who the people are behind the devices. Any phone that can survive a regular (accidental) drop has her vote for best handset. Michelle previously worked covering local news in the Bay Area and has been with TechRadar since July 2012.