While still not publicly confirming that it was the firm that helped the FBI crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone, Cellebrite has offered to help a father gain access to his deceased son’s iPhone 6, CNN reports. Leonardo Fabbretti said his 13-year-old son Dama had given him Touch ID fingerprint access to the phone before his death from bone cancer, but that the phone now required his son’s passcode to unlock after a restart. Fabbretti asked Apple for help unlocking the phone, but was told the company couldn’t access the device without his son’s passcode. After hearing the story, Cellebrite reached out to Fabbretti, and on Friday a forensic analyst delivered a promising update during a meeting in northern Italy. “They were able to download the directories with the iPhone’s content, but there is still work to be done in order to access the files,” Fabbretti said.
The public attempt to crack the iPhone 6’s security is unfolding alongside the FBI’s continued efforts to coerce Apple’s assistance in breaking its own encryption. While Cellebrite seems confident it can gain access to an iPhone 6 without Apple’s help, the FBI has stated the method it used to crack the San Bernardino iPhone won’t work on iPhone 5s or later models. So even though the government dropped its lawsuit against Apple in the San Bernardino case, the Department of Justice is still pursuing its appeal in a similar case, demanding Apple’s assistance in accessing a drug dealer’s iPhone 5s.
Apple said the government is working to set a precedent with the Brooklyn case and that the company plans to use the opportunity to demand more information on how the San Bernardino phone was hacked, since the FBI hasn’t provided any details. While the iPhone 5s at the center of the New York case has superior security to the iPhone 5c cracked in the terror case, the device is running iOS 7, which could complicate the FBI’s case against Apple, since mobile forensics companies have gone on record saying they’re already able to overcome that level of security. A law enforcement official said Apple has already conceded it could gain access to the phone in a matter of hours or minutes, but the company stopped cooperating with government requests last year after helping prosecutors unlock more than 70 iPhones in years past.