How much did the FBI pay to hack the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone? ‘A lot’

iPhone 5c pocket
How much was the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone worth to the Federal Bureau of Investigation? Director James Comey let slip a hint, which Reuters used to calculate a ballpark amount well north of $1.3 million.

“More than I will make in the remainder of this job … But it was, in my view, worth it.”

If the estimate is accurate, it is the largest ever publicly known amount paid for a hacking technique, beating out Zerodium, an information security firm that paid $1 million to an anonymous team of hackers to break into iOS 9.1 late last year.

The bureau paid professional “gray hat” hackers to unlock the iPhone 5C left behind by one of the San Bernardino shooters, Syed Farook. The phone sparked a month-long legal battle between Apple and the FBI, as Apple refused to create a special tool to provide access into the phone.

Apple feared that, in the wrong hands, the tool could be used against all of its customers, threatening their privacy and security. The Cupertino company’s sentiments were echoed by many other tech companies, privacy and human rights groups, as well as legal, tech, cryptology, and cybersecurity experts. The FBI dropped the case after the team of anonymous hackers successfully cracked the phone.

Comey was speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in London, when he was asked how much the FBI paid to unlock the iPhone. “A lot,” he said. “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.”

Reuters estimated that since, according to the FBI and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget, Comey’s annual salary as of January 2015 was $183,300, that amount will reach $1.34 million by the day his term ends.

The contents of the iPhone didn’t show any evidence of ties to ISIS, but it helped put to bed a few theories the FBI held about what happened during an 18-minute gap from when the shooters left the holiday party, after they killed 14 people. It’s still unknown what exactly happened during that time period.

Mobile

Nubia’s two-screen wonder is a new solution to our all-screen selfie problems

Nubia has added a second screen to the back of the Nubia X so the rear camera can be used for selfies -- and a lot more -- and the front is all-screen. We tried the phone out at CES 2019.
Mobile

Apple’s iPhone battery offer was reportedly way more popular than expected

As many as 11 million iPhone owners reportedly made use of Apple's cheaper battery replacement offer that launched in 2018 in response to the iPhone throttling debacle — some 10 times more than the company had apparently expected.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Gaming

‘RollerCoaster Tycoon 2’ ride takes 12 years to complete

A RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 player has constructed a coaster in the game that will take more than 12 years to complete from beginning to end, and is actually a tiny ride taking up a small portion of the landscape.
Mobile

Benchmark scores surface for Google's midrange Pixel 3 XL Lite

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a midrange line. Say hello to the Pixel 3 Lite and Pixel 3 Lite XL.
Apple

Rumors say Apple's AirPower wireless charger may finally be in production

At its September event in 2018, Apple unveiled the AirPower, a new wireless charging mat that will allow you to charge multiple devices at one time. It has not yet been released. Here's everything we know about the device so far.
Computing

Beam up the videos: AirPlay support is coming to VLC player

At CES 2019, the developers of VLC player announced they are adding support for Apple's Airplay feature, allowing consumers to beam video and other content from their iPhone and Android devices to an Apple TV. 
Mobile

The LG G8 ThinQ may arrive at MWC 2019 with an on-screen speaker

LG is expected to release a successor to the LG G7 ThinQ, possibly called the LG G8 ThinQ, this year and rumors about it are already spreading. Here's everything we know about it so far.
Mobile

Oppo could reveal a new smartphone with a 10x optical zoom

Cracking a solid zoom on smartphones has been a riddle many years in the solving. One company may have finally cracked it though: Oppo may be about to show off a phone with a 10x optical zoom.
Outdoors

Nike’s Adapt BB shoes let you tighten your laces with an iPhone

The new Nike Adapt BB shoe comes with smartphone connectivity that allows the user to tighten the laces using a smartphone while providing the ability to adjust tension throughout the game.
Wearables

How to switch TicHealth to Google Fit on the Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro

The Mobvoi TicWatch C2 and TicWatch Pro are both much-loved and feature-packed watches, and they offer excellent fitness tracking. Recently, Mobvoi has switched out Google Fit for TicHealth, but you can switch them back. Here's how.
Mobile

If you're looking for a good laugh, here are 70 questions to ask Siri

Siri has come a long way since her first appearance on the iPhone 4S in 2011. We know she can make appointments and give directions, did you know she can make you laugh too? If you want proof, here are lots of funny questions to ask Siri.
Mobile

Benchmark results show Snapdragon 855 destroys previous-generation chip

Almost exactly a year after the launch of the Snapdragon 845, Qualcomm took the wraps off of its next-generation mobile platform, the new Snapdragon 855. The new chip puts an emphasis on A.I. performance.
Mobile

We tried all the latest and greatest smartphones to find the best of 2019

Smartphones are perhaps the most important and personal piece of tech on the planet. That’s why it’s important to pick the best phone for your individual needs. Here are the best smartphones you can buy.