We all know the story of the prototype iPhone four that was left at a bar, spoiling what could have been one particular of the greatest surprises in Apple history.

But have you heard the one particular about the stolen prototype iPhones that are nevertheless winding up in unintended hands — in this case, hackers bent on locating approaches to break into Apple’s operating program?

That is the concentrate of a new Motherboard investigation this week, which claims there’s now a gray industry for “dev-fused” iPhone prototypes that have been stolen from Apple’s production lines. They’re devices which are uniquely worthwhile for assisting safety researchers obtain vulnerabilities due to the fact they run a significantly less hardened version of the OS exactly where root access is trivial to receive, according to the report.

Motherboard’s sources say that the “switchboard” phones — an dev-fused iPhone X fees as small as $1,800 — have currently been applied to aid create the handheld Cellebrite machines reportedly applied by law enforcement agencies to break into phones. Initially, Cellebrite was believed to be the firm assisting the FBI crack an iPhone 5C belonging to a San Bernadino terrorist in 2016 — even though that was later refuted, the FBI did spend an unknown celebration more than $1 million to get into that telephone.

And, says Motherboard’s sources, these stolen phones had been the way safety researchers had been in a position to study Apple’s specific Safe Enclave safety coprocessor in 2017, potentially exposing vulnerabilities in the chip explicitly made to retain iPhones safe.

There’s a lot additional in the complete Motherboard story.