While here at ElcomSoft we offer a limited range of tools for acquiring Android devices that’s pretty much limited to over-the-air acquisition, we are still often approached with questions when one should use cloud extraction, and when other acquisition methods should be used. In this article, we decided to sum up our experience in acquiring the various Android devices, explaining why we decided to go for a cloud acquisition tool instead of implementing the many physical and logical extraction methods. This article is a general summary of available acquisition methods for the various makes, models, chipsets and OS versions of Android smartphones. The article is not intended to be a technical guide; instead, it’s supposed to give you a heads-up on approaching Android acquisition.
Archive for the ‘Did you know that…?’ Category
As we all know, Google collects and processes an awful lot of data about pretty much everyone who is using the company’s cloud services or owns a smartphone running the Android OS (or, to be precise, is using a device with Google Mobile Services). Just how much data is available was described in our previous article, What Google Knows about You, and Why It Matters. Today, we’ll discuss something slightly different. Meet Google Timeline, a relatively new feature extending the company’s Maps service.
In today’s thoroughly connected world, everyone shares at least some of their personal information with, well, strangers. Voluntarily or not, people using personal computers or mobile devices have some of their information transmitted to, processed, stored and used by multiple online service providers.
Took a selfie shot? Your face (and possibly your friends’ faces) will be marked, and the photo will be uploaded to one or another cloud storage provider on your behalf. Used your phone to look up a place to eat? Your search will be remembered and used later on to push you suggestions next time when you’re around. Emails and messages that you write, persons you communicate with, your comprehensive location history and all the photos you shoot (accompanied with appropriate geotags) are carefully collected, processed and stored. Web sites you visit along with logins and passwords, your complete browsing history and pretty much everything you do with your phone can and probably will be recorded and used on you to “enhance your experience”.
Some service providers collect more information than others. Google appears to be the absolute champion in this regard. Being a major service provider penetrating into every area of our lives, Google collects, stores and processes overwhelming amounts of data.
With hardware-backed full-disk encryption and additional protection of sensitive user data located in the keychain, Apple iOS is the most secure mobile operating system out there. Acquisition approaches that are traditional for Android and Windows Phone devices (namely, JTAG, ISP and chip-off) are completely meaningless for iOS devices running even years-old generations of the system. Bypassing screen lock password (passcode) has also been long considered to be useless due to the fact user data stored in the keychain is additionally encrypted with a secure key based on the passcode.
While we can’t do much with the former, our recent research shows that the latter is not entirely true. Bypassing the passcode does reveal quite a bit of information that can be useful for an investigation. And this is not just a theoretical research. We are building this functionality into a ready-to-use commercial tool, iOS Forensic Toolkit, to allow extracting data from locked iDevices – providing they have a jailbreak installed. The tool will allow pull available information from devices locked with an unknown passcode. That includes devices that were powered on (or rebooted) and never unlocked. Naturally, a pre-installed jailbreak is required in order to access the data.
If you follow industry news, you already know about the release of iOS 9. You may also know that iOS 9 is the toughest one to break, with no jailbreak available now or in foreseeable future. With no jailbreak and no physical acquisition available for newer devices, what methods can you still use to obtain evidence from passcode-locked devices? Our answer to this is Elcomsoft Phone Breaker 5.0 that adds over-the-air acquisition support for iOS 9.
Although we’ve already embraced the EFS-encryption/decryption in some of our white papers and case studies, now we’d like to share a video tutorial because seeing once is better than hearing reading twice. So, in this video you will see how to decrypt EFS-encrypted data with help of Advanced EFS Data Recovery and how to recover Windows user account password with Proactive System Password Recovery (because it’s still obligatory for this type of encryption).
Advanced EFS Data Recovery (AEFSDR) is wholly dedicated to decryption of Windows EFS-encrypted files, however in order to decrypt the data the program still requires the user account password. Yeah, you might think at first that anyone can decrypt the data having user account password at hand, but no. You can’t. EFS encryption uses more than just logon password, nonetheless it’s the core ingredient in data decryption and so it must be provided.
If you forgot the logon password or didn’t know it at all Proactive System Password Recovery (PSPR) in its turn can help you acquire all system passwords once you can log into the system with administrator privileges. Exactly this example has been illustrated in our video (provide by Sethioz), here it is:
With all the trouble of jailbreaking iOS 8 devices and the lack of support for 64-bit hardware, does iOS physical acquisition still present meaningful benefits to the investigator? Is it still worth your time and effort attempting to acquire that iPhone via a Lightning cord?
Granted, jailbroken iOS devices are rare as hen’s teeth. You are very unlikely to see one in the wild. However, we strongly believe that physical acquisition still plays an important role in the lab, and here are the reasons why.
- In many countries (Mexico, Brazil, Russia, East Europe etc.) Apple sells more 32-bit phones than 64-bit ones. Old iPhones traded in the US are refurbished and sold to consumers in other countries (BrightStar coordinates these operations for Apple in the US). As an example, new and refurbished iPhone 4S and 5 units accounted for some 46% of all iPhones sold through retail channels in Russia in Q1 2015.
- Physical extraction returns significantly more information compared to any other acquisition method including logical or over-the-air acquisition. In particular, we’re talking about downloaded mail and full application data including logs and cache files (especially those related to Internet activities). A lot of this information never makes it into backups.
- Full keychain extraction is only available with physical acquisition. Physical is the only way to fully decrypting the keychain including those records encrypted with device-specific keys. Those keychain items can be extracted from a backup file, but cannot be decrypted without a device-specific key. In addition, the keychain often contains the user’s Apple ID password.
- With physical acquisition, you can extract the ‘securityd’ (0x835) from the device. This key can be used to completely decrypt all keychain items from iCloud backups.
- Physical acquisition produces a standard DMG disk image with HFS+ file system. You can mount the image into the system and use a wider range of mobile forensic tools to analyze compared to iTunes or iCloud backup files.
Quite often our new customers ask us for advice about what they should start with in order to use the program effectively. In fact, there are various situations when the tool can come in handy by decrypting data securely protected with TrueCrypt, BitLocker (To-Go), or PGP and we’d need a super long video to describe all the cases. But we’d love to demonstrate one typical situation when disk is protected with TrueCrypt when entire system drive encryption option is on.
In this video, kindly provided by Sethioz, we suggest you to decrypt TrueCrypt whole system drive encryption using our Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor thoroughly going through all the stages starting from the very first one when you just got the encrypted hard drive on hands.
With encrypted hard drive in one hand and its memory dump in the other one (taken when encrypted disk was still mounted) we plug HDD into our “invesgitator’s” computer, start Elcomsoft Forensic Disk Decryptor and easily, in one slow motion, extract the encryption keys from the memory dump file and decrypt the protected HDD, either by mounting it into the “investigator’s” system (to be able to work with it on-the-fly) or by decoding the contents into a specified folder.
We hope you’ll enjoy this video and next time you have the necessity to decrypt something encrypted you’ll feel more confident about it. We also invite you to take a moment and share your experience here in comments or leave your question if you still have any after this pretty detailed video. 🙂
I know most computer gurus and pros never read through program manuals or help files and prefer to learn everything using proverbial method of trial and error. Does this sound like you? Of course. Exceptions are very seldom. So, here’s something nice that will save your time and help your experience with Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor (EWSA).
In order to provide a quick but sufficient understanding how to effectively work with EWSA, our friend Sethios has prepared a nice 20-minute video tutorial that includes all steps of work with the program starting with acquiring handshakes and moving on through all following steps.
This video is packed with useful information, so go ahead and watch it now:
Was it helpful for your work? You are the judge. But we are always happy to hear from you. Your feedback is the reason we work harder on our software!