Posts Tagged ‘Apple’

Breaking Apple iWork Passwords

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

Apple iWork, an inexpensive office productivity suite for the Mac and iOS platforms, has been around since 2005 and 2011 respectively. The iWork suite consists of three apps: Numbers, Pages, and Keynotes, and gained quite some popularity among Apple followers. Yet, for all this time, no one came out with a feasible password recovery solution for the iWork document format.

The reason for the lack of a password recovery solution for the iWork format is extremely slow recovery speed. This owes to Apple’s implementation of encryption: the company used an industry-standard AES algorithm with strong, 128-bit keys. Brute-forcing a 128-bit number on today’s hardware remains impossible. The original, plain-text password has to be recovered in order to decrypt protected iWork documents.

However, recovering that plain-text password is also very slow. Apple used the PBKDF2 algorithm to derive an encryption key from plain-text passwords, with some 4000 iterations of a hash function (SHA1). While it takes only a hundredth of a second to verify a single password, an attack would be speed-limited to about 500 passwords per second on today’s top hardware. This is extremely slow considering the number of possible password combinations.

Distributed Attacks

When starting considering the addition of Apple iWork to the list of supported products, we quickly recognized the speed bottleneck. With as slow a recovery, a distributed attack on the password would be the only feasible one. Indeed, using multiple computers connected to a large cluster gives us more speed, breaking the barrier of unreasonable and promising realistic recovery timeframe. Brute-forcing is still not a good option, but ElcomSoft’s advanced dictionary attack with customizable masks and configurable permutations is very feasible if we consider one thing: the human factor.

The Human Factor

Let’s look at the product one more time. Apple iWork is sold to mobile users for $9.99. Mac customers can purchase the suite for $79. These price points clearly suggest that Apple is targeting the consumer market, not government agencies and not corporations with established security policies enforcing the use of long, complex, strong passwords.

Multiple researches confirm it’s a given fact that most people, if not enforced by a security policy, will choose simple, easy to remember passwords such as ‘abc’, ‘password1’ or their dog’s name. In addition, it’s in the human nature to reduce the number of things to remember. Humans are likely to re-use their passwords, with little or no variation, in various places: their instant messenger accounts, Web and email accounts, social networks and other places from which a password can be easily retrieved.

Considering all this, 500 passwords per second doesn’t sound that bad anymore. Which brings us to the announcement: Elcomsoft Distributed Password Recovery now supports Apple iWork, becoming an industry-first tool and the only product so far to recover passwords for Numbers, Pages and Keynotes apps. It’s the human factor and advanced dictionary attacks that help it recover a significant share of iWork passwords in reasonable time.

Read the official press-release on Elcomsoft Distributed Password Recovery recovering Apple iWork passwords.

Newer iOS Forensic Toolkit Acquires iPhones in 20 Minutes, Including iOS 5

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

iOS 5 Support

When developing the iOS 5 compatible version of iOS Forensic Toolkit, we found the freshened encryption to be only tweaked up a bit, with the exception of keychain encryption. The encryption algorithm protecting keychain items such as Web site and email passwords has been changed completely. In addition, escrow keybag now becomes useless to a forensic specialist. Without knowing the original device passcode, escrow keys remain inaccessible even if they are physically available.

What does enhanced security mean for the user? With iOS 5, they are getting a bit more security. Their keychain items such as Web site, email and certain application passwords will remain secure even if their phone falls into the hands of a forensic specialist. That, of course, will only last till the moment investigators obtain the original device passcode, which is only a matter of time if a tool such as iOS Forensic Toolkit is used to recover one.

What does this mean for the forensics? Bad news first: without knowing or recovering the original device passcode, some of the keychain items will not be decryptable. These items include Web site passwords stored in Safari browser, email passwords, and some application passwords.

Now the good news: iOS Forensic Toolkit can still recover the original plain-text device passcode, and it is still possible to obtain escrow keys from any iTunes equipped computer the iOS device in question has been ever synced or connected to. Once the passcode is recovered, iOS Forensic Toolkit will decrypt everything from the keychain. If there’s no time to recover the passcode or escrow keys, the Toolkit will still do its best and decrypt some of the keychain items.

Faster Operation

Besides adding support for the latest iOS 5, Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit becomes 2 to 2.5 times faster to acquire iOS devices. When it required 40 to 60 minutes before, the new version will take only 20 minutes. For example, the updated iOS Forensic Toolkit can acquire a 16-Gb iPhone 4 in about 20 minutes, or a 32-Gb version in 40 minutes.

Extracting the File System from iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch Devices

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

In our previous blog post we have described how we broke the encryption in iOS devices. One important thing was left out of that article for the sake of readability, and that is how we actually acquire the image of the file system of the device. Indeed, in order to decrypt the file system, we need to extract it from the device first.


ElcomSoft Breaks iPhone Encryption, Offers Forensic Access to File System Dumps

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

ElcomSoft researchers were able to decrypt iPhone’s encrypted file system images made under iOS 4. While at first this may sound as a minor achievement, ElcomSoft is in fact the world’s first company to do this. It’s also worth noting that we will be releasing the product implementing this functionality for the exclusive use of law enforcement, forensic and intelligence agencies. We have a number of good reasons for doing it this way. But first, let’s have a look at perspective.


Smartphone Forensics: Cracking BlackBerry Backup Passwords

Thursday, September 30th, 2010

BlackBerry dominates the North American smartphone market, enjoying almost 40 per cent market share. A 20 per cent worldwide market share isn’t exactly a bad thing, too. The total subscriber base for the BlackBerry platform is more than 50 million users.

Today, we are proud to present world’s first tool to facilitate forensic analysis of BlackBerry devices by enabling access to protected data stored on users’ BlackBerries.

One of the reasons of BlackBerry high popularity is its ultimate security. It was the only commercial mobile communication device that was ever allowed to a US president: Barack Obama has won the privilege to keep his prized BlackBerry despite resistance from NSA. (On a similar note, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was handed an iPhone 4 a day before its official release by no one but Steve Jobs himself. No worries, we crack those, too).



Peeking Inside Keychain Secrets

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

Today we have released Elcomsoft iPhone Password Breaker 1.20 which introduces two new features and fixes few minor issues.

Keychain Explorer

This feature allows to view contents of keychain included with encrypted device backup.

Mac users are probably familiar with concept of keychain — it is a centralized, system-wide storage where application can store information they consider sensitive. Typically, such information includes passwords, encryption keys and certificates, but in principle it can be anything. Data in keychain is cryptographically protected by OS and user password is required to access it. The closest Windows equivalent for keychain is probably Data Protection API.

iOS-based devices also have a keychain, but instead of user password, embedded cryptographic key is used to protect its contents. This key is unique to each device and so far there are no way to reliably extract it from the device.

Apple recommends iOS application developers to use keychain for storing passwords and other sensitive information, and one reason for this is that it never leaves device unencrypted. Here’s an excerpt from Keychain Service Programming Guide:

In iOS, an application always has access to its own keychain items and does not have access to any other application’s items. The system generates its own password for the keychain, and stores the key on the device in such a way that it is not accessible to any application. When a user backs up iPhone data, the keychain data is backed up but the secrets in the keychain remain encrypted in the backup. The keychain password is not included in the backup. Therefore, passwords and other secrets stored in the keychain on the iPhone cannot be used by someone who gains access to an iPhone backup. For this reason, it is important to use the keychain on iPhone to store passwords and other data (such as cookies) that can be used to log into secure web sites.

Prior to iOS 4 keychain was also included in the backup ‘”as is”, i.e. all data inside was encrypted using unique device key. This meant that it was not possible to restore keychain onto another device — it will try to decrypt data with key which is different from one used to encrypt data. Naturally, this will fail and all data in keychain will be lost.

To address this issue, Apple changed the way keychain backup works in iOS 4. Now, if you’re creating encrypted backup (i.e. you’ve set up a password to protect backup) then keychain data will be re-encrypted using encryption key derived from backup password and thus ca be restored on another device (provided backup password, of course). If you haven’t set backup password, then everything works like before iOS 4 — keychain encrypted on device key is included in the backup.

Elcomsoft iPhone Password Breaker now allows you to view contents of keychain from encrypted backup of devices running iOS 4. You will need to provide password, of course. Here’s screenshot of Keychain Explorer showing (some) contents of my iPhone’s keychain:

Keychain Explorer 

There are passwords for all Wi-Fi hotspots I have ever joined (and haven’t pushed “Forget this Network” button), for my email, Twitter, and WordPress accounts, as well as Safari saved passwords and even my Lufthansa frequent flyer number and password! :) And I don’t use Facebook/LinkedIn/anything else on my phone — otherwise I guess credentials for those will be also included in the keychain.

Keychain Explorer will work only against backup which is encrypted. If you happen to have an iOS 4 device and want to get password from it — set a backup password in iTunes, backup device, use Keychain Explorer to view and/or export keychain passwords, and, finally, remove backup password in iTunes.

Password Cache

This feature is far less exciting than Keychain Explorer, but we believe it should improve user experience with Elcomsoft iPhone Password Breaker.

The idea is simple: all passwords which are found by EPPB or which are used to open backup in Keychain Explorer are stored in password cache. When you later try to open backup in Keychain Explorer or recover a backup password, program first checks password cache for correct password.

Passwords in cache are stored using secure encryption.


Also, there is a new EPPB FAQ online. Worth reading if you’re thinking of purchasing EPPB or want to learn more about it.

There is at least one really big update for EPPB coming in September or October, so stay tuned!


Monday, June 21st, 2010

It’s been two weeks since Steve Jobs has announced release of new iPhone 4 and iOS 4 operating system during his keynote on WWDC’2010. New iPhone will begin shipping on Thursday, 24th of June, and new iOS will become available for download today, just few hours are left.

iOS 4 comes packed with a lot of nice features (long-awaited multitasking, background location services, iBooks and much improved Mail app  just to name a few) and we are very pleased to announce today the release of the new version of Elcomsoft iPhone Password Breaker with support for iTunes 9.2 and iOS 4.

Elcomsoft iPhone Password Breaker (or EPPB for short) is a utility to recover passwords for encrypted and password-protected iPhone/iPod/iPad backups created with iTunes (please note that it’s not meant to recover or remove passcode lock on the device).

With iOS 4 Apple has completely changed the way backups are encrypted and stored. Backup and restore processes are way much faster now. Apple have also improved protection against password recovery attacks, thus making our job harder (password recovery is about 5x slower for new backups than for older ones).

We at Elcomsoft try our best to keep up with the times, so most of our tools & programs are adjusted to the latest technologically advanced features. The EPPB is not an exception, new version of EPPB fully supports both old and new backup formats. It also supports hardware acceleration using NVIDIA and ATI GPUs and Tableau TACC1441.

Elcomsoft iPhone Password Breaker

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Last week we have released our new product, EPPB, out of beta. We have fixed some bugs, polished GPU acceleration support, added support for Tableau TACC1441 hardware accelerator, making this program the world's first program capable of utilizing computing power of GPUs both from ATI and NVIDIA as well as dedicated hardware accelerators aimed primarily on computer forensics specialists. We have also included ability to run brute-force attacks and not only wordlist-based attacks. Latter were improved with ability to enable/disable individual types of password mutations and set customized level to any of them.

The last, but not the least, we have found that EPPB can handle encrypted backups from Apple's newest tablet, iPad (thanks to Apple for using the same underlying technologies for iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad).

Apple iPad

P.S. If anyone's interested, we think that iPad is really cool gadget. It's not a substitute for a laptop, but it's great for catching on emails, surfing web, watching photos or videos or movies and for reading books. And multitouch on 10'' screen is awesome :).

P.P.S. Yes, this blog post was originally created on iPad.

iPhone/iPod Backup Password Recovery

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

ElcomSoft iPhone Password BreakerToday we are pleased to unveil the first public beta of our new product, Elcomsoft iPhone Password Breaker, a tool designed to address password recovery of password-protected iPhone and iPod Touch backups made with iTunes.

In case you do not know, iTunes routinely makes backups of iPhones and iPods being synced to it. Such backups contain a plethora of information, essentially all user-generated data from the device in question. Contacts, calendar entries, call history, SMS, photos, emails, application data, notes and probably much more. Not surprisingly, such information manifests significant value for investigators. To make their job easier there are tools to read information out of iTunes backups, one example of such tool being Oxygen Forensic Suite ( Such tools can not deal with encrypted backups, though.


The smallest password cracking device

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

We wrote about the new iPhone last week, but these we only rumors. And now it is officially announced (on WWDC); the sales will start on June 17th (in the U.S.). Additional information is available at Apple web site: general and about iPhone 3.0 software update. But unfortunately, still no tech specs of its GPU; according to the above article, Maybe there is some truth to the rumors that Apple is using OpenCL. If that’s true, there will be (technical) ability to crack passwords on it, and the speed should not be disappointing.

News from the other side: Intel could Atomise handsets in two years. An era of portable password crackers is coming 😉