Phone Cracking Software Drives Swedish Firm to 25% Growth

  • Micro Systemation says sales growth may accelerate long term
  • FBI used 3rd party to access iPhone after California shooting

Micro Systemation AB says its 25 percent sales jump last year is just the beginning, as police and governments increasingly use software that cracks mobile devices in the wake of recent terrorist attacks and shootings.

“I expect the pace of growth to stay or increase at this level over the long term,” Chief Executive Officer Joel Bolloe said in an interview in Stockholm on Thursday, declining to comment specifically on growth expectations for 2016.

Shares in the company spiked on the comments, and traded 4.2 percent higher as of 12:20 p.m. in Stockholm.

With almost 1.5 billion smartphones shipped last year and people increasingly depending on them for everything from Internet access and messaging to payments -- mobile devices store a wealth of knowledge and background on their users. As authorities increasingly need quick access to suspects’ private data to solve and prevent crimes such as terrorist attacks, sales of products such as MSAB’s forensic software are likely to increase.

The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year tapped a third-party to gain access to an iPhone used in a shooting last year in San Bernardino, California, after Apple Inc. refused. It’s said to have worked with Israel’s Cellebrite Mobile Synchronization Ltd. to crack the phone. Recent terrorist attacks in countries including Belgium, France and Turkey are also likely to increase the use of software such as MSAB’s.

“This worrying world is generating a demand for these types of tools,” Bolloe said. “We’ve seen a trend in the past years where organizations realize they need to reallocate budget into technology because they know the Internet, on smartphones, computers, this is where you secure the evidence. We have the potential to become much, much bigger than we are now.”

MSAB’s revenue has climbed for 11 consecutive years, benefiting from increased security measures taken globally in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. in 2001. Sales jumped to 227 million kronor ($28 million) last year from 181 million kronor in 2014, while its earnings before interest and taxes as a percentage of sales rose to 25 percent.

The mobile phone is the most important piece of evidence you’ll find at a crime scene today, with criminals now using those devices as their No. 1 tool when planning or committing crimes, according to Bolloe.

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