(credit: zodman)

Everybody and their brother has been reporting for weeks that the Israel-based firm Cellebrite assisted the Federal Bureau of Investigation with unlocking the iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of two shooters who killed 14 people in San Bernardino County in December. But the Washington Post says otherwise: the bureau paid so-called "gray hat" hackers for the undisclosed zero-day software exploit.

The Post cites anonymous sources and Ars could not immediately verify the report. The outlet says the undisclosed hackers who assisted the FBI are "ethically murky" because they are somewhere in between "white hats" who disclose their exploits to companies so they can be fixed, and "black hats" who are in the business of stealing private data.

"The individuals who helped the FBI in the San Bernardino, California, case fall into a third category, often considered ethically murky: researchers who sell flaws to governments, companies that make surveillance tools, or groups on the black market," the Post reported Wednesday.

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