Cellebrite announced its new Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED) Premium service in June 2019. With UFED Premium, police can unlock almost all iPhones and most Android phones in-house. With other services, law enforcement often has to send phones out to a forensic laboratory to have them unlocked. That adds a lot of red tape and slows down the investigation. According to a new report, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office has had access to UFED Premium long before the official announcement — as early as January 2018. This claim comes from a leaked contract with the Manhattan DA, one of the most influential prosecution offices in the country. The office reportedly paid $200,000 for the UFED Premium license, training, and a set number of in-house phone unlocks. There were also additional service add-ons totaling about $1 million. The contract also requires the DA to set up a secure room to house the software with no recording devices allowed.
Manhattan DA could make full use of the product. As soon as Cellebrite announced the in-house cracking capability, the security community set to work figuring out how it worked. Eventually, the company may need to devise a new approach as vendors patch to block the UFED Premium tools.
Currently, Cellebrite advertises UFED Premium as being able to unlock all iPhones as well as many high-end Android phones like those made by Samsung and Huawei. Presumably, that means even the latest iOS 13 is vulnerable.