iPhone Hackers Grayshift Sell 'Mobile' GrayKey

Emails and procurement records point to a "mobile" version of the GrayKey.
July 13, 2020, 5:46pm
Unlocking iPhones
Image: Cathryn Virginia

Grayshift, the company behind iPhone unlocking technology GrayKey, also sells a "mobile" version of its technology, according to emails obtained by Motherboard.

The news signals how Grayshift has moved beyond simply making a single tool that unlocks iPhones. NBC News recently reported that the company also has a product to surreptitiously capture a target's phone passcode once authorities hand the device back to them.

Do you know anything else about Grayshift, or have documents related to the GrayKey? We'd love to hear from you. Using a non-work phone or computer, you can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, OTR chat on jfcox@jabber.ccc.de, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

"Did you get everything you needed from me? Would you like a price quote? If so, would you like the Online, Offline or Mobile Graykey," a March email from a GrayKey accounts manager to Detective Jose Estrada, a member of the High Tech Crimes Unit at the Stockton, California Police Department reads.


An email Grayshift sent to Stockton, California Police Department mentioning the "mobile" version of the GrayKey. Image: Motherboard

Grayshift quietly launched the GrayKey several years ago. Whereas, at the time, established forensics firm Cellebrite offered to unlock modern iPhones with its in-house service, the GrayKey offered to do much of the same but with a device that agencies could keep on their premises and for a lower price. The Online version, which granted users the ability to unlock 300 iPhones, cost $15,000. (As Motherboard reported in March, Grayshift increased the price to $18,000 because of the increased difficulty of iOS forensics, according to other internal emails). The Offline version allows unlimited uses.

No other details about the "mobile" GrayKey are included in the Stockton emails. Grayshift did not respond to a request for comment.

But a public procurement record between the Drug Enforcement Administration and Grayshift lists an April purchase of "GrayKey License Mobile Renewal" for $45,000. Another September 2019 deal with an Office of the Inspector General totaled in at $45,075 for a "Gray Key mobile unit." A third deal of $90,000 is described as "GrayKey Unit—GrayKey Annual License Mobile."

Cellebrite has for years offered mobile versions of its own smartphone forensic hardware called the Universal Forensic Extraction Device (UFED). These are designed not to just be used in a lab perhaps at an agency's headquarters, but out in the field.

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