The hacking expert has been hacked in the United States. Having fallen a victim itself to hackers is Cellebrite, a digital forensics firm known for helping law enforcement crack into locked smartphones.
It had obtained 900 gigabytes of data related to the Israel-based company, technology news website Motherboard said on Thursday. Customer information, databases and technical data about the company’s products are included the trove of data hacked, it said.
Saying that it’s investigating the extent of the breach and acknowledging that one of its external web servers had been hacked, the company – Cellebrite, released a statement on Thursday.
An unidentified hacker gave him 900 gigabytes of data from Cellebrite’s servers, said Motherboard journalist Joseph Cox.
While some of the information contained customer data, most of the data consisted of technical information, evidence and log files, he said in a series of messages posted to Twitter. The trove contained messages from authorities in Russia, Turkey and the Arab Gulf, Cox wrote in the article.
Cellebrite could be in for more unwelcome attention. Motherboard would “likely be doing more stories from the data,” Cox said.
A database backup of an old license management system was included in the server in question, according to Cellebrite. The hackers encrypted passwords for users who had not yet moved to the company’s new system and accessed basic user contact information, it said.
While Cellebrite is still advising them to change their passwords, the company says it’s not aware of any risk to customers as a result of the breach.
Dating back to at least 2013, Cellebrite, founded in 1999, has contracts with the FBI. Machines and devices that can extract and decode data such as contacts, pictures and text messages are made by the company which helps the law enforcement agencies. The advices are able to extract and decode information and data from more than 15,000 kinds of smartphones and other mobile devices, the company said. To help customers to transfer data from old phones to new ones, Cellebrite also makes commercial products for companies offering the new phones.
Last year, some industry observers speculated that the company could have helped the FBI hack into an iPhone used by one of the killer in the San Bernardino, California, mass shooting. This has landed the company in the spotlight. The phone in uesiton was made by Apple Inc and the iPhone maker has refused to help break iPhone security for the security agencies. Therefore that phone had been the subject of a major legal fight between the FBI and Apple. After finding another way into the phone, the FBI dropped its case.
Being attached to and doing business with thousands of law enforcement and intelligence agencies, militaries and governments, Cellebrite claims to have operations in more than 100 countries. But its involvement in the San Bernardino case was never proven.
(Adapted from CNBC)