By Michael Thomsen For Dailymail.com
Published: 20:40 GMT, 23 January 2020 | Updated: 20:52 GMT, 23 January 2020
The New York Police Department are operating a new forensics lab to try and hack into smartphones to collect evidence from a person’s texts messages, GPS data, and voicemail transcripts and more.
The lab cost roughly $10 million and is located in the Lewis J. Lefkowitz Building in lower Manhattan, across the street from the county Supreme Court.
It features a radiofrequency isolation chamber, which prevents any incoming or outgoing signals from reaching the phone, ensuring it can't be remotely accessed or wiped.
The NYPD spent $10million on a special forensics lab in lower Manhattan where experts try to crack into smartphones to get around end-to-end encryption and gather evidence from a person's text messages, GPS data, voicemails and more
The NYPD says that at any given time, there are around 3,000 smartphones in the lab that police haven’t been able to crack.
Because both Apple and Google rely on end-to-end encryption for their smartphones, the only way to gain full access to a phone’s contents is to unlock the physical device.
New York District Attoney Cyrus Vance says this has become a major obstacle for police conducting investigations.
‘You entrust us with this responsibility to protect the public,’ he told Fast Company.
‘At the same time, [Apple and Google] have taken away one of our best sources of information. Just because they say so.’
When the lab gets a new phone, the staff connect them to one of a number of computer stations that generate passcodes to try and get past the lock screen.
The NYPD forensics lab is located in the Lewis J. Lefkowitz Building (pictured above) in lower Manhattan, across from the county Supreme Court
End-to-end encryption ensures only the two participants of a chat can read messages, and no-one in between – not even the company that owns the service.
End-to-end encryption is intended to prevent data being read or secretly modified when it is in transit between the two parties.
The cryptographic keys needed to access the service are automatically provided only to the two people in each conversation.
In decrypted form, messages are accessible by a third party – which makes them interceptable by governments for law enforcement reasons.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is already encrypted, and now Mark Zuckerberg is looking to do the same with Facebook Messenger and Instagram Direct.
After six failed attempts, iPhones will disable the function for one minute, which limits the police to 360 attempts per hour, or 8,640 per