Authorities across the United States are getting their hands on an affordable device that will help them unlock iPhones, according to Motherboard. According to their investigation, details surfaced that a number of local and regional police forces, including Maryland’s and Indiana’s, have either already bought the device or are thinking about purchasing the iPhone-cracking technology called GrayKey.
The technology, GrayKey, reportedly works on phones running iOS 11, which is Apple’s latest mobile platform, even if if they choose to use it on the iPhone X. Motherboard reports that the State Department Alfredo has one of its own, and the Secret Service and the Drug Enforcement Administration are planning to buy some.
So, what exactly is GrayKey? According to an earlier report from Malwarebytes, it’s a small box that can unlock two iPhones at a time (take a look at the picture above). GrayKey was developed by an Atlanta company named Grayshift, which is run by long-time US intelligence agency contractors and a former Apple security engineer, per Forbes.
In order to use GrayKey box, all authorities have to do is connect a phone to one of the connectors and leave it there for two minutes. After that, they simply have to wait a bit after it’s unplugged to see a black screen pop up with the passcode. How long authorities have to wait will depend on how complex the passcode or passphrase is.
In terms of pricing, it’s actually quite affordable, at least for agencies. There are two GrayKey variants available: one that will set government agencies back $15,000, and the other will cost them $30,000. There are differences between the two, however. The cheaper version of GrayKey will unlock up to 300 devices, while the latter will unlock as many iPhones as authorities want.
Motherboard points out that phone-cracking devices use security holes and exploit them. These can be patched by Apple, Google or any other phonemakers at any given them. Having a black door ensures that they are able to gain access to data whenever they want, even if the device is running the latest operating system.