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FBI Paid More Than $1 Million for iPhone-Cracking Tool

by Pete Williams /
A man shows a photograph he took on his iPhone of an Apple store in Beijing. REUTERS/David Gray

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The FBI paid more than a million dollars for the software solution that allowed agents to open an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino attackers, according to a comment made by Director James Comey.

Asked Thursday at a security conference in London how much the FBI paid for the tool that cracked Syed Farook’s phone and ended a California court battle with Apple, Comey said, "A lot, more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure.”

Read More: FBI Accessed iPhone in Terror Case, Raising More Questions About Key Issues

“But it was in my view worth it,” Comey said.

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The FBI director is paid about $180,000 a year. So multiplying that by 7.3 years yields a figure of about $1.3 million. FBI officials were not immediately available to confirm the figure.

Apple and the FBI were bound for a courtroom showdown over the iPhone in March, until the government said that it had found a way to get data off the device without the company’s help.

Read More: Apple Refused Chinese Request for Source Code, Top Lawyer Says

While the federal law enforcement agency has remained mostly mum about how it got info off the iPhone 5C used by Farook — not even telling Apple how it did it — Comey has let a few details slip in recent weeks. Earlier this month, he told a crowd at Kenyon College that the FBI had “purchased” the technique from a still-unidentified third party.

Comey also said that the tool only worked on a “narrow slice of phones.”

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