FBI director James Comey hinted about the market rate for law enforcement to hack an iPhone.
The identity of who helped the FBI break into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino shooters may never be known, but Comey did divulge more about what it cost to get the task done.
Speaking at an Aspen Security Forum event in London, he said: “We were able to get into the phone because, in an odd way, all the controversy around the litigation stimulated a marketplace around the world . . . for people trying to figure out if they could they break into an Apple 5C running iOS9 — and those details matter because that’s the phone that the terrorists left behind,” reported the Financial Times (FT).
Quizzed about the cost for such work, Comey did not answer directly but commented: “A lot. More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure. But it was, in my view, worth it . . . I think it was very, very important that we got into that device.”
The FT pointed out Comey’s annual salary is $183,800, suggesting the FBI paid at least $1.35 million to the hackers.
Comey still hopes to find common ground with tech firms such as Apple to avoid paying out cash to outside parties in the future to hack their encryption.
“I’m hoping we can get to a sensible solution that doesn’t involve hacking and that doesn’t involving spending loads of money,” he said.