Indiana police buy iPhone cracking tool from American start-up

According to documents obtained by the site Motherboard through the US equivalent of a Wob request, the Indiana State Police Department purchased iPhone cracking tools from a US start-up called Grayshift.

The documents indicate that the Indiana state police have placed an order for a “GrayKey unit” and an annual license to use the Grayshift tools for a maximum of 300 times, Motherboard said. The license fee amounts to $14,500 including a $500 discount for the first year. It can be concluded from the accompanying e-mail exchanges that the police were in a hurry because the tool was needed for gathering evidence in ongoing investigations. That email is dated February 20.

The existence of Grayshift was highlighted by Forbes this week. The site wrote based on sources and documents that the company was founded in September 2016 in the US state of Georgia. The co-founder, David Miles, is said to have previously worked at Endgame, which is reported to have developed hacking tools for the US government. A Grayshift employee, who holds the role of security engineer there, previously spent six years in the same role at Apple, according to Forbes.

Grayshift mentions in its communications that it can break into phones running iOS 11 and 10, with support for iOS 9 coming later. For $15,000, it offers an “online license” to use the necessary GrayKey tool for a maximum of three hundred times, or a one-time fee of $30,000 for unlimited “offline use.” This would make it possible to unlock Apple devices with the aforementioned OS versions. That would apply to 4- or 6-digit PINs and complex passcodes.

The company’s top executives have not responded to inquiries from Forbes and Motherboard. Grayshift is not the first company to claim to be able to break into Apple’s latest mobile operating system, recently it was revealed that Israeli Cellebrite is offering the same option to customers. The same company is rumored to have helped the FBI gain access to the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone 5c. The FBI is said to have paid more than a million dollars for the tool used at the time, which is a significantly higher amount than Grayshift is now charging.