The FBI is estimated to have paid more than $1.3 million to get into the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino killers.
The figure, the largest ever publicised fee for a hacking job, is based on the salary of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey.
Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in London, Comey was asked by a moderator how much the FBI paid for the software that eventually broke into the iPhone.
“A lot. More than I will make in the remainder of this job, which is seven years and four months for sure,” Comey said.
“But it was, in my view, worth it.”
According to figures from the FBI and the US Office of Management and Budget, Comey’s annual salary as of January 2015 was $183,300. Without a raise or bonus, Comey will make $1.34 million over the remainder of his job.
The FBI tried unsuccessfully to get Apple to unlock the phone in a legal case that raised strong feelings among those defending the right to customers’ privacy.
The agency eventually turned to an unidentified third party to unlock the device belonging to Rizwan Farook, one of the shooters who killed 14 people in San Bernardino, California, in December 2015.