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FBI paid over $1.34M for hack into San Bernardino iPhone, agency's director says

The FBI paid more than $1.34 million to hack into the iPhone 5c of dead San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook, agency director James Comey admitted on Thursday.




Speaking in front of the Aspen Security Forum in London, Comey declined to offer a precise figure, but said that it would be "more than I will make in the remainder of this job," according to Reuters. The director added that he will be with the FBI for at least another seven years and four months. As of January 2015, his annual salary was $183,300.

He described the expense as "worth it" in his view, noting that the FBI will be able to use the technique on other iPhone 5c models running iOS 9. Until this year the FBI had never paid more than $1 million for access to a hacking technique.

What kind of hack the FBI used on Farook's phone is still a secret, and something Apple has been working to discover. In withdrawing its court order against Apple, the U.S. Department of Justice did say it received help from a third party, also undisclosed.

Reports initially suggested that forensics firm Cellebrite was responsible. Later however sources for the Washington Post suggested it was a hacker group, paid a one-time fee in exchange for an undocumented exploit.

CNN sources have claimed that even though the FBI didn't find any new information on Farook's phone, this in itself proved useful, since it seemed to support a belief that Farook and his wife didn't contact any outside conspirators.