Releasing a major update of a complex forensic tool is always tough. New data locations and formats, new protocols and APIs require an extensive amount of research. Sometimes, we discover things that surprise us. Researching Apple’s iCloud Photo Library (to be integrated into Elcomsoft Phone Breaker 6.0) led to a particularly big surprise. We discovered that Apple keeps holding on to the photos you stored in iCloud Photo Library and then deleted, keeping “deleted” images for much longer than the advertised 30 days without telling anyone. Elcomsoft Phone Breaker 6.0 becomes the first tool on the market to gain access to deleted images going back past 30 days.
Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’
So you’ve got an iPhone, and it’s locked, and you don’t know the passcode. This situation is so common, and the market has so many solutions and “solutions” that we felt a short walkthrough is necessary.
What exactly can be done to the device depends on the following factors:
From the point of view of mobile forensics, there are three distinct generations:
- iPhone 4 and older (acquisition is trivial)
- iPhone 4S, 5 and 5C (32-bit devices, no Secure Enclave, jailbreak required, must be able to unlock the device)
- iPhone 5S, 6/6S, 6/6S Plus and newer (64-bit devices, Secure Enclave, jailbreak required, passcode must be known and removed in Settings)
On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered Apple to assist the authorities in breaking into a locked iPhone 5C used by Syed Farook, who killed 14 in San Bernardino in December. According to the FBI, the phone might contain critical information about connections with Islamic terrorist groups. Apple opposed the motion and published an open letter at https://www.apple.com/customer-letter/ saying that “The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”
So what is the government asking, does Apple have it, and is it technically possible to achieve what they are asking? Let’s try to find out.
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.
In light of recent security outbreaks, Apple introduced a number of changes to its security policies. As one of the leading security companies and a major supplier of forensic software for iOS devices, ElcomSoft is being constantly approached by IT security specialists, journalists and forensic experts. The most common question is: how will the new security measures affect iOS forensics? (more…)
Do you think you know everything about creating and using backups of Apple iOS devices? Probably not. Our colleague and friend Vladimir Bezmaly (MVP Consumer security, Microsoft Security Trusted Advisor) shares some thoughts, tips and tricks on iTunes and iCloud backups.
Mobile phones are everywhere. They are getting increasingly more complex and increasingly more powerful, producing, consuming and storing more information than ever. Today’s smart mobile devices are much more than just phones intended to make and receive calls. Let’s take Apple iPhone. The iPhone handles our mail, plans our appointments, connects us to other people via social networks, takes and shares pictures, and serves as a gaming console, eBook reader, barcode scanner, Web browser, flashlight, pedometer and whatnot. As a result, your typical iPhone handles tons of essential information, keeping the data somewhere in the device. But what if something happens to the iPhone? Or what if nothing happens, but you simply want a newer-and-better model? Restoring the data from a backup would be the simplest way of initializing a new device. But wait… what backup?
Users in general are reluctant to make any sort of backup. They could make a backup copy once after reading an article urging them to back up their data… but that would be it. Apple knows its users, and decided to explore the path yet unbeaten, making backups completely automatic and requiring no user intervention. Two options are available: local backups via iTunes and cloud backups via Apple iCloud.
Apple iCloud is a popular service providing Apple users the much needed backup storage space. Using the iCloud is so simple and unobtrusive that more than 190 million customers (as of November, 2012) are using the service on regular basis.
Little do they know. The service opens governments a back door for spying on iOS users without them even knowing. ElcomSoft researchers discovered that information stored in the iCloud can be retrieved by anyone without having access to a physical device, provided that the original Apple ID and password are known. The company even built the technology for accessing this information in one of its mobile forensic products, Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker, allowing investigators accessing backup copies of the phone’s content via iCloud services.
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.
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.