Speed Reads

i'd like to report a break-in

iPhone-unlocking technology is giving law enforcement access to encrypted data

Law enforcement agencies across the country are scrambling to get their hands on technology that can "break into iPhones," Motherboard reports.

An investigation by Motherboard published Thursday found that police forces and federal agencies have purchased a tool called GrayKey, which can bypass encryption on even the most up-to-date iPhones so that officials can see contacts, messages, photos, and more. Each GrayKey unit is a small box outfitted with cables to connect iPhones, and there are two versions: One costs $15,000 and can unlock 300 phones, while the other runs $30,000 and can unlock an unlimited number of devices.

Internal documents showed that state police in Maryland and Indiana, as well as local police in Miami, have plans to buy GrayKeys. The Secret Service is reportedly planning to buy at least six GrayKey boxes, and the State Department has apparently already purchased the tool.

The FBI also already uses this technology, Motherboard reports, and said in 2016 that it can unlock just about any phone. But FBI Director Christopher Wray said in January that it is becoming more difficult bypass encryption — an argument frequently made in the push for devices that have a "back door" in their operating systems to allow law enforcement to access data when needed. GrayKey boxes make "back doors" less necessary, experts told Motherboard, but the increasing presence of such technology in law enforcement agencies means investigators can get any data they want, encrypted or not.

Read more at Motherboard.