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Home / Gadgets / New York Law Enforcement Officials operate a $ 10 million laboratory designed to crack iPhones

New York Law Enforcement Officials operate a $ 10 million laboratory designed to crack iPhones



The Manhattan District Attorney, Cy Vance Jr., set up and oversaw a $ 10 million high-tech forensic laboratory specifically built for cracking iPhones, according to a new profile from Fast Company .

The laboratory is equipped with "stunning hardware" and a team of technology experts, many of whom are ex-military personnel. The facility itself has a high-frequency isolation chamber that prevents remote access to iPhones used for exams, so that they are not deleted.


The Vance team has thousands of iPhones in the facility that are at various stages of cracking. There is a supercomputer that generates 26 million random passwords per second, a robot that can remove memory chips without using heat, and special tools to repair damaged devices to make them accessible again.

All iPhones are connected to computers that generate passcodes to access the iPhones. Sometimes tens of thousands of combinations of numbers have to be run through. The facility's staff, including director Steven Moran, are also trying to narrow down options based on birthdays, important dates, and other information that can each be used for an iPhone passcode.

Proprietary workflow software keeps track of all iPhones in the facility, including their software and meaning, to decide which "iPhone" to process and which one might be cracked with a newly found third-party solution.

Vance was one of Apple's main critics, calling on the government to introduce encryption protection laws to help law enforcement officers access iPhones needed for criminal investigations. According to Vance, 82 percent of smartphones that enter the device are locked and his cybercrime lab can crack "about half".

Apple's frequent software updates make it more difficult to break into iPhones by making the process more complicated. This can make it almost impossible to damage an "iPhone" in time. "For us, the problem, especially from a law enforcement perspective, is primarily time," said Vance.

Vance believes that it is "not fair" that Apple and Google can prevent law enforcement officers from accessing smartphones. Vance says law enforcement is "protecting the public," but Apple and Google have "only" limited access to information for that reason. Vance believes there should be a "balance" between protecting user privacy and justice for crime victims.

"This is not their demand. And it is not their demand because this is about something bigger than their personal determination of where privacy and public security should be reconciled. What is even bigger is that They are victims and a community of law enforcement agencies that have strict requirements that should be recognized and balanced by Apple and Apple officials alike Google: Today I think it's unbalanced.

Apple argues that it is "iPhone" – Provides data from iCloud without penetrating the "iPhone" itself, but Vance says that a serious criminal doesn't have an "iCloud" backup product. A user can also choose what information is stored remotely, and "in many cases." "smartphones are not secured if there is a crime and an" iPhone "is switched off.

Law enforcement officers can also retrieve device metadata such as the time and location of a phone call from SIM cards or cellular operators, but Moran says this is the difference between the ability to read a letter and the envelope-to-envelope restriction that the letter contains came in.

"Even if we are lucky enough to get into the cloud or if we are lucky enough to get some of the metadata, we still lack a lot of important information that is crucial for the investigation . "

Vance says he doesn't "whine" about the encryption problem, but his lab is "not the answer" because most of the US can't afford to do the work that the New York cyber lab does.

Fast Company Vance's cyber laboratory is introduced as Apple prepares for another fight with the FBI. Apple has been asked to unlock the iPhones used by US shooter Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani. Apple has provided "iCloud" data, but the company is fighting requests to unlock the devices.

For more information on New York's High Technology Analysis Unit and facility, see Fast Company .

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