This Israeli firm steals data of a phone in seconds
Israeli firm Cellebrite, one of the world’s leading hacking companies tat specializes in extracting information from cell phones in seconds, has shown how they can pull data from a locked smartphone, thereby exposing the vulnerabilities that worry privacy advocates.
The company has contracts in more than 115 countries, of which many are with governments. The company came to limelight in March when it was reported that the FBI used its technology to crack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.
Since then, there have been reports that Cellebrite was not involved, and the company also refuses to comment.
Nevertheless, it is known as one of the world’s leaders in such technology.
It can apparently take a wide range of information from devices, such as from the content of text messages to actual details of where a person was at any given point of time. Even messages can be possibly retrieved that were deleted years before.
“There are many devices that we are the only player in the world that can unlock,” Leeor Ben-Peretz, one of the company’s top executives, told AFP in English.
But, such powerful technology can end up in the hands of wrong people, leading to exploits, worry privacy and rights activists.
Cellebrite’s technology only works when the phone is physically connected to one of the firm’s devices and it does not work on online hacking.
Recently, its capabilities were demonstrated by the company for an AFP journalist.
The password on a phone was disabled and newly taken photos appeared on a computer screen, complete with the exact location and time they were taken.
The extraction did not take long, as the phone in the demonstration, an LG G4 that ran on Google’s Android operating system, is a model that Cellebrite had already hacked.
Ben-Peretz agrees that the real challenge is to stay ahead in a race where phone manufacturers launch new models at regular intervals and update software with ever more complex security.
The company’s lab has 15,000 phones with around 150-200 new models added each month.
Ben-Peretz said that when a new phone is launched, their research team of 250 people fights against competitors to find a clink in its armour, a process that can take a few days and go on for months.