New law enforcement hacking tool can unlock most iPhone, Android handsets

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According to the firm, the system is designed for law enforcement agencies and will allow them to increase "chances of finding the incriminating evidence and bringing your case to a resolution". While smartphones contain so much more information than the flip phones of yesteryear, they're also much harder to access without a password.

Cellebrite is one of the few companies in the world, that specialises in extracting data from mobile devices.

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Israeli forensics firm Cellebrite is responsible for creating such a tool - the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED), and the security company now claims it can unlock nearly of all of the latest Apple and Android smart devices thanks to its latest update. Turns out, law enforcement would not even have to send the device to Cellebrite for this, but the company does say that they take misuse very seriously, and have a multi-step process in place created to authenticate the validity of the unlock request.

Apple has already tried to deal with Cellebrite hacking products as part of several iOS updates, and the company even introduced a new feature that blocks USB connections when it's been more than an hour since the iPhone was locked. The company doesn't want to keep it a secret and has announced a new version of its UFED tool, called the UFED Premium, which is "The only on-premise solution for law enforcement agencies to unlock and extract crucial mobile phone evidence from all iOS and high-end Android devices". There's also some concern these devices could end up in the hands of criminals. Odds are Cellebrite paid an arm and a leg to some security researcher for the exploit, and now it'll leverage it to make money from governments and law enforcement until Apple can discover how the UFED Premium works. The same is true on high-end Android devices including the Samsung S6/S7/S8/S9 and handsets from Huawei, LG, Motorola, and Xiaomi. That suggests it has found manufacturer-specific flaws and not something that affects all Android devices.

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