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Firm rumored to have cracked San Bernadino shooter’s phone is said to secretly sold NYPD the device

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The Israeli firm rumored to have cracked the San Bernardino shooter’s phone has been secretly selling its technology to New York law enforcement since 2018 – a year prior to making the technology public.

OneZone has discovered a contract between Cellebrite and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office that states the DA would pay $200,000 over the next three years for the device, software and training of staff.

Callebrite was ‘proud to introduce’ its UFED Premium product for the first time in 2019, which would let customers crack phones in-house instead of shipping them off to forensic labs — but the documents suggest New York officials have been longtime customers.

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OneZone has discovered a contract between Cellebrite and the Manhattan District Attorney's office that states the DA would pay $200,000 over the next three use for the device, software and training of staff

OneZone has discovered a contract between Cellebrite and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office that states the DA would pay $200,000 over the next three use for the device, software and training of staff

OneZone has obtained a contract between the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and Cellebrite that shows the DA’s office agreed to pay $200,000 over the next three years for the device and software.

Cellebrite, based in Petah Tikva, announced the official release of its UFED Premium technology on June 14, 2019, which ultimately gives government officials the ability to break into an individual’s phone.

However, the firm is not answering any questions or giving away hints suggesting the contract exists. 

‘For security and privacy reasons, Cellebrite company policy prohibits us from discussing the details of our customers and clients,’ company spokesperson Christopher Bacey said in a statement to OneZone.

The ability of police to unlock iPhones was highlighted during the conflict between Apple and the FBI in San Bernadino, who wanted Apple to help them access the iPhone 5C of the San Bernadino murderer Syed Rizwan Farook (right) and it is believed the organization used Cellebrite's technology

The ability of police to unlock iPhones was highlighted during the conflict between Apple and the FBI in San Bernadino, who wanted Apple to help them access the iPhone 5C of the San Bernadino murderer Syed Rizwan Farook (right) and it is believed the organization used Cellebrite’s technology

‘Everything we do on behalf of our digital intelligence, law enforcement, government, and private enterprise customers is done to help accelerate criminal investigations and address the challenges of crime and security in a digital world,’ Bacey said.

DailyMail.com has reached out to Cellebrite for comment, but has yet to receive a response. 

The Cellebrite service is designed to determine or disable the PIN, pattern, password screen locks passcodes on the latest Apple iOS and Google Android devices and prior to the in-house technology, police had to send the device to one of the firm’s labs.

The Cellebrite service is designed to determine or disable the PIN, pattern, password screen locks passcodes on the latest Apple iOS and Google Android devices and prior to the in-house technology, police had to send the device to one of the firm's labs

The Cellebrite service is designed to determine or disable the PIN, pattern, password screen locks passcodes on the latest Apple iOS and Google Android devices and prior to the in-house technology, police had to send the device to one of the firm’s labs

The company then unlocked the device in its labs and handed it back to police and investigators so they can inspect the data on the device, or Cellebrite can do that for them, and it can cost about $1,500 per unlock.

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And although the June 2019 announcement appears to be the first time the world has heard of the technology being available, documents obtained by OneZero suggest otherwise.

The news outlet stumbled upon a contract between Cellebrite and the Manhattan District Attorney’s (DA) Office which shows the New York agency agreed to pay the Israeli firm $200,000 over the next three years for UFED Premium – the contract dates back to 2018.

Michael Hayes with OneZero explained that the contract showed the fee was to cover software licensing and installation, in addition to training law enforcement on how to use the technology and ‘an agreed-upon number of phone-cracks’.

‘The contract also references about $1 million in undisclosed add-ons, but it’s not clear if the DA’s office agreed to purchase any of these additional products or services,’ Hayes wrote.

‘The document also states that the DA’s office must designate a ‘secure room’ where the software is housed, and that the room not contain any audiovisual recording devices.’  

The ability of police to unlock iPhones was highlighted during the conflict between Apple and the FBI in San Bernadino in 2016.

The bureau wanted Apple to help them access the iPhone 5C of the San Bernadino murderer Syed Rizwan Farook.

In the same year, Vice reported that Cellebrite raked in millions of dollars from the sale of its portable device that was capable of unlocking and extracting data from older smartphone versions.

And it was also reported that the FBI had purchases at least $2 million worth of Cellebrite products since 2012.

The Manhattan DA has not publicly revealed its new UFED Premium phone-cracking capabilities.

 

 

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