FBI Director Hints They Paid Over $1 Million To Unlock San Bernardino iPhone
Previously, we reported that FBI hired hackers to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone 5c. However, at that time we do not know how much the agency has paid for the hackers. Now, in a security conference in London, FBI director James Comey revealed that the FBI paid more than he will make in the remainder of this job, which according to a calculation done by Reuters is about $1.3 million.
Comey made his statement in London recently at an event by the Aspen Institute. When asked how much the bureau paid the third-party gray-hat hackers for the tool that broke into the iPhone, he replied "more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure".
While previous reports had suggested the FBI had paid company Cellebrite upwards of $15,000 to unlock the iPhone, the actual number needed to get the job done is much, much higher. Reuters claim that Comey makes $185,100 per year and if you multiply that by 7.33, you get $1,356,783. Despite the high figure, Comey said, "it was, in my view, worth it". FBI officials would not respond to the initial report confirming the number, but if Comey was not making a joke, well, it looks like the agency paid more than $1 million to unlock the iPhone 5c. As well, the FBI has not disclosed to Apple or any public entity how exactly the tool works, though Apple has expressed a desire to have such information.
The tool that was purchased by the FBI in the midst of its then-legal battle against Apple, uses a security hole that can only be exploited in iPhone 5c and below and won't work on iPhone 5s and later version.