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According to a story this morning in the Washington Free Beacon by Bill Gertz, the FBI broke into Syed Farook’s IPhone with a password cracker piece of software produced by a Moscow-based cryptographer who once “studied at the highest school of the KGB” the old Soviet-era domestic spy agency.
Alexander Katalov, founder of Elcomsoft says that the FBI has purchased his software programs on many occasions in the past.
The revelation has raised security concerns among intelligence professionals in the West.
However, Vladimir Katalov, Alexander’s younger brother who now is the CEO of Elcomsoft, told the Washington Free Beacon in an email that the company now does business with both the FBI and the FSB, as the Russian spy service is now known.
“We only develop and sell software, and do not cooperate with any intelligence or security service.” Said Katalov.
“However, our software is being widely used by government, military, forensic and law enforcement organizations all over the world.”
According to public records that Bill Gertz dug up:
“The FBI purchased what records describe as ‘Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit, Full Version,’ in 2014 and ‘Elcomsoft Blackberry Backup Explorer’ and ‘Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit Renewal’ a year later.”
Some U.S. security officials don’t trust Elcomsoft. Michelle Van Cleave, a former National Counterintelligence Executive told Gertz:
“You have to assume that any successful Russian industry is tied into [Russia’s security services] – especially companies that specialize in cutting-edge cyber capabilities. It’s difficult to believe that their security services would let that kind of expertise be offered for sale without getting something in return.”
But Katalov counters that Elcomsoft has offered to provide source code for the software to security professionals for analysis.
“And finally, did you ever think what is going to happen with our Elcomsoft reputation if any security vulnerabilities are found?”
I’m still reporting from Washington. Good day.