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FBI Director Suggests It Cost $1M+ to Crack iPhone

That's more than James Comey will make in 7 years, 4 months
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2016 3:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – FBI Director James Comey won't say exactly how much the agency paid hackers to break into a locked iPhone—but it's definitely more than he makes. Speaking at a security conference in London, Comey said it was "a lot," and "more than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months, for sure." The Washington Post notes that Comey appeared to be doing mental arithmetic as he made his remarks. He makes $185,100 a year under the most recent federal pay schedule, meaning the unidentified hackers had a payday of more than $1.3 million.

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Comey's remarks suggest that the FBI paid the biggest-ever disclosed fee for hacking, well over the $1 million that cybersecurity firm Zerodium paid hackers for finding a flaw in Apple's iOS 9, reports Reuters. "But it was, in my view, worth it," said Comey. He admitted that the tool used to break into San Bernardino shooter Syed Rizwan Farook's phone will only work on an iPhone 5c running iOS 9, and added that since there are 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the US with smaller budgets than the FBI's, he hopes the government can find a better way to get into locked phones than paying off hackers. (Google has upped the reward for successfully breaking into its Chromebook.)

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