In the wake of last month’s shooting at a Pensacola, Florida, naval base, Attorney General William Barr is putting pressure on Apple to help FBI investigators unlock two of the shooter’s iPhones. Followers of these issues will recall a similar pressure campaign in 2016 to force Apple to decrypt the San Bernardino, California, shooter’s iPhone. In that case, the FBI ultimately hired an external company to break the encryption, at a cost of over $1 million.
One might think that the FBI’s current efforts mean that iPhone encryption has advanced such that only Apple has the capability to unlock the shooter’s iPhones, but depending on the exact model of the Pensacola shooter’s phone, the FBI could pay as little as $15,000 to reach the data locked inside. However, if commercially available solutions don’t work, it’s likely there is no way for Apple to unlock the phone without its passcode.