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It took almost four months for the FBI to break into the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino terrorists. Turns out, they could have done so much faster and cheaper with a simple device sold in retail shops.
Fone Fun Shop, a British retailer, stocks a device that can unlock an iPhone running iOS 7 in less than 24 hours. This device, called the IP Box, bypasses the iPhone’s auto-locking mechanism that is supposed to defend it against brute-force password cracking attacks.
The Daily Mail found the device in a store in Sheffield. They bought one just to see if it works for the measly price of £120, or about $170. They used it on an iPhone 5C protected with a four-digit passcode. Turns out, the device works. It checks a code in about 6 seconds, with a total processing time to run through every possible code combination of just 16 and a half hours.
This means it would take less than a single day to break into an iPhone running iOS 7 in the worst case scenario. Chances are, the right code won’t be the last one checked, and the smartphone will be opened much faster than that.
IP Box is aimed at iOS 7, and iOS 9 supposedly has protections against the attack. The seller of the device, however, claims that a version aimed at iOS 9 is already in the works and will come out soon.
“We discovered the device via our Hong Kong office and were skeptical as to whether it would work but after testing we discovered it worked perfectly,” Mark Strachan, company director of Fone Fun Shop, told the Daily Mail.