A report from Reuters citing “several U.S. government sources” claims that the FBI paid less than $1 million to the third-party to unlock the iPhone 5c of the San Bernardino shooter. The FBI director had previously indicated that the law enforcement agency had paid nearly $1.3 million to unlock Farook’s iPhone 5c.
As a part of the contract, the third-party will unlock all other iPhone 5c for the FBI running iOS 9 without any additional charges. It remains unclear if the method used will work on other newer iPhones or not. The FBI will also likely not reveal the unlocking method to Apple.
The report says that the FBI possess the method through which the iPhone was unlocked, but does not know how it works. The law enforcement body is also keeping the third-party who unlocked the iPhone 5c a closely guarded secret, so much so that even FBI’s director Comey does not know who it is. It was initially believed that an Israeli firm Cellebrite had helped the FBI in unlocking Farook’s iPhone, but a report later on stated that the law enforcement agency had taken help from “professional hackers” to get the job done.
While the FBI has recovered plenty of data from Farook’s iPhone, they are still in the process of analysing it and determining its usefulness. The law enforcement body hopes the recovered data from the iPhone 5c helps them in filling the details on an 18-minute gap in their timeline after the shooting.