SUNNYSIDE Normally, when we think of “hacking,” we think of something bad happening. (Images of a cyberthief sitting in a darkened room trying to hack into our online bank accounts come to mind.)
As a result, Sunnyside residents held their collective breath Monday night when the City Council took up a proposal to buy into a system that could hack through security features of a newer iPhone. After a discussion, the council agreed that spending $2,000 annually for police access to a GrayKey system was an appropriate expense.
GrayKey, developed by the firm GrayShift, is designed to hack through security features on newer iPhones. Law enforcement agencies around the county, including Toppenish and Yakima, are already on board, as is the county sheriff’s office.
The total price tag for the device and related software is $16,000. Sunnyside bought in for a mere 12.5 percent of the sticker price.
For the money, city law enforcement officials who first obtain a search warrant from a judge can use the GrayKey to hack through iPhone security features to search for related evidence.
City officials said the Police Department stands by the 4th Amendment and due process. They also said that with the rapid pace of changing technology, new tools are needed to solve crimes.
And the fact the city was able to get into the system and have unlimited access for a mere $2,000 makes the buy-in, well, a steal.
After the Dec. 2, 2015, shooting rampage in San Bernardino, Calif., left 14 people dead, the FBI struggled to obtain evidence locked away in an iPhone. At the time, Apple declined to unlock the device for agents and detectives, citing the possible ramifications of giving law enforcement a tool to hack into an iPhone willy-nilly.
If GrayKey can live up to its purported abilities, Sunnyside police won’t have that problem here.
Law enforcement officials are correct. As technology evolves, so does the need for enhancing crime fighting tools.
As long as our constitutional rights are upheld, and suspects are given their due process, we don’t see any issue with authorities being able to hack an iPhone — they already have that ability for Android systems and personal computers.