The FBI is reportedly still analyzing Syed Farook’s iPhone, but there’s been a lot of drama about whether or not the FBI is using Cellebrite to crack the encrypted San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone.
Some news outlets such as Patently Apple suggested that the FBI asking for a delay in the case could be related to the FBI’s $15,278.02 purchase order with Cellebrite dated March 21. The purchase order seems to be one listed on the Federal Procurement Data System–Next Generation (FPDS-NG), a site which posts government agency purchases. That apparently led to Steve Morgan’s article on Forbes which pointed out the government has dropped millions upon millions of dollars on Cellebrite via 1,511 purchase orders.
So far in 2016, the biggest government customers of Cellebrite seem to be the FBI, ICE and the DEA; each are listed five times this year. Purchase orders aren’t really my thing, so I’m no expert, but a simple search for “Cellebrite 2016” resulted in 31 purchase or delivery orders for the government dated in 2016. That may be incomplete, and even shows orders from 2015, but those specifically dated 2016 are as follows:
2016 US government Cellebrite customers
5 for FBI: You are likely most curious about Cellebrite and FBI dealings. On January 6, there was a $3,850 order. On February 8, the FBI had a purchase order for $4,500. On February 29, there was one for $23,180.45 this time. On March 21, the FBI had a purchase order with Cellebrite for $15,278.02. On March 28, there was yet another for $218,004.85.
ICE: US Immigration and Customs Enforcement has been busy with Cellebrite this year as five are dated in 2016. There was a $16,000 delivery order on January 22. $0 on February 18 with IDV (Indefinite Delivery Vehicle) type listed as IDC (Indefinite Delivery Contract). Latin would have made more sense, so draft IDV is a record that is “missing certain required elements.” ICE had another $0 for a March 1 delivery order. On March 2, ICE had an $11,988 delivery order from Cellebrite and the same day had another “$0” delivery order.
DEA: The Drug Enforcement Agency has placed so many total orders with Cellebrite that it should be getting a wholesale price by now. This year there was a “$0” purchase order dated January 19 for education/training. A $6,049 purchase order on February 5 was for “office devices and accessories” this time. Another “$0” purchase order on February 26 was for an annual service plan. The $3,098.99 order on March 21 was for “IT and telecom system acquisition support.” There was a $18,468 order dated March 24 and marked as information technology equipment system configuration.
Secret Service: There are three orders with Cellebrite listed for the US Secret Service. A purchase order for $29,976 on March 2; another ICD for $0 on March 10 as well as a March 10 delivery order of $781,113.80.
Treasury: The IRS had a Cellebrite delivery order on January 19 for $233,463.60 and a February 1 delivery order marked as “$0;” both are grouped with a December 30, 2015, delivery order for $59,382. The IRS is part of the Treasury Department, which had another $48,360 delivery order for the Bureau of the Fiscal Service on March 31.
Commerce Department: On March 26, there was a $3,406.96 purchase order from the Department of Commerce Office of the Secretary.
State Department: On February 10, there was a $108,500 purchase order with the contracting office listed as “American Embassy – Santo Domingo.” On February 11, there was a $11,143.85 purchase order with the contracting office listed as “American Embassy – Lima;” both are for “education/training – other.”
The Federal Prison System had a $3,850 Cellebrite purchase order dated March 24.
Offices, Boards and Divisions had a “$0” purchase order on March 24 that was marked with PSC Code “support - professional expert witness;” the contracting office is listed as US Attorney's Office – DC. It seems to be related to two others from 2015, with only one for $4,600 showing money passing hands.
USDA, NASA: Some of the odd 2016 Cellebrite government contracts
I don’t know what people are doing to trees, or perhaps planting in national forests, that would require the Forest Service to need Cellebrite devices to pull data off phones, but nonetheless it is listed. Specifically, it is listed under USDA which is one of the top 10 departments with Cellebrite contracts; clicking the link shows USDA, Office of Inspector General and even six purchase orders for the Forest Service – none of which occurred in 2016. However, the USDA had a purchase order from March 10 for $7,700 listed for “education/training – other.”
Another headscratcher is why would NASA need Cellebrite? NASA had a $25,688.93 Cellebrite purchase order dated March 31, 2016, under the PSC code “information technology support equipment.”
Top 10 US departments and contracting agencies for Cellebrite
The all-time top 10 departments that are the best Cellebrite customers are the Justice Department (643), Homeland Security (413), Department of Defense (207), State Department (93), Treasury Department (24), Health and Human Services (19), Interior Department (18), Securities and Exchange Commission (14), Department of Agriculture (12) and NASA (12).
That might be a bit deceiving on face value if you are no purchasing agreement pro; for example, following the link for Health and Human Services shows purchase orders from the CDC, FDA and Program Support Center.
The Justice Department may be at the top of departments with 643, but following the link shows purchase orders for a plethora of agencies ranging from the USDA, Office of Inspector General, DISA (Defense Information Systems Agency), Forest Service, Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Agency for International Development, Court Services and Offender Supervision, the Department of Energy, ATF, Acquisition and Property Management Division and the Federal Prison System. Of course there are pages and pages of Cellebrite purchase agreements for the DEA and FBI.
The all-time top 10 contracting agencies include the DEA (371), ICE (216), FBI (199), US Army (106), State Department (93), US Customs and Border Protection (83), US Coast Guard (60), US Navy (55), US Marshals (28) and US Secret Service (25).