Fetching Call Logs, Browsing History and Location Data from Microsoft Accounts

June 16th, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

In other blog post, we discussed the updated Elcomsoft Phone Breaker that allows extracting search and browsing history, location data and call logs from users’ Microsoft Accounts. Now let’s talk about the origins of this data and how to enable its collection on different devices – even if they don’t run Microsoft Windows.

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The New Google Authentication Engine in Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer 1.31

June 15th, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

As you may know, we have recently updated Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer, bumping the version number from 1.30 to 1.31. A very minor update? A bunch of unnamed bug fixes and performance improvements? Not really. Under the hood, the new release has major changes that will greatly affect usage experience. What exactly has changed and why, and what are the forensic implications of these changes? Bear with us to find out.

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Android Encryption Demystified

May 23rd, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

How many Android handsets are encrypted, and how much protection does Android encryption actually provide? With Android Nougat accounting for roughly 7% of the market, the chance of not being adequately protected is still high for an average Android user.

Android Central published an article titled More Android phones are using encryption and lock screen security than ever before. The author, Andrew Martonik, says: “For devices running Android Nougat, roughly 80% of users are running them fully encrypted. At the same time, about 70% of Nougat devices are using a secure lock screen of some form.”

This information is available directly from Google who shared some security metrics at Google I/O 2017.

“That 80% encryption number isn’t amazingly surprising when you remember that Nougat has full-device encryption turned on by default”, continues Andrew Martonik, “but that number also includes devices that were upgraded from Marshmallow, which didn’t have default encryption. Devices running on Marshmallow have a device encryption rate of just 25%, though, so this is a massive improvement. And the best part about Google’s insistence on default encryption is that eventually older devices will be replaced by those running Nougat or later out of the box, meaning this encryption rate could get very close to 100%.”

So how many Android handsets out there are actually encrypted? Assuming that 0.25 (25%) of Android 6 handsets use encryption, and 0.8 (80%) of Android 7 phones are encrypted, it will be possible to calculate the number of encrypted handsets out of the total number of Android devices.

Let’s have a look at the current Android version distribution chart:

  • Android 5.1.1 and earlier versions: ~62% market share
  • Android 6: 31 (31% market share) * 0.25 = 0.078
  • Android 7: 0.07 (7% market share) * 0.80 = 0.056

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We Did It Again: Deleted Notes Extracted from iCloud

May 19th, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

As we already know, Apple syncs many types of data across devices that share the same Apple ID. Calls logs, contacts, Safari tabs and browsing history, favorites and notes can be synced. The syncing mechanism supposedly synchronizes newly created, edited and deleted items. These synchronizations work near instantly with little or no delay.

Apple is also known for keeping some items that users want to be deleted. As a reminder, this is a brief history of our findings:

What’s It All About?

Apple has a great note taking app that comes pre-installed on phones, tablets and computers. The Notes app offers the ability to take notes and sync them with the cloud to other devices using the same Apple ID. We discovered that Apple apparently retains in the cloud copies of the users’ notes that were deleted by the user. Granted, deleted notes can be accessed on iCloud.com for some 30 days through the “Recently Deleted” folder; this is not it. We discovered that deleted notes are actually left in the cloud way past the 30-day period, even if they no longer appear in the “Recently Deleted” folder.

For accessing those notes, we updated Elcomsoft Phone Breaker to version 6.50. Read the rest of this entry »

On Apple iCloud security and ‘deleted’ notes

May 19th, 2017 by Vladimir Katalov

Apple, it’s not funny anymore.

Apple iCloud is a fantastic service. For me, it works far better than Google services, especially when it comes to cloud backups. I use it daily when working with my iPhone, iPad, Mac and MacBook at home. In the office, I still have to use the good old Windows PC, and I hate it. I use iCloud backups to keep my data safe (secured with two-factor authentication), and it really helped me on at least two occasions when I had my iPhone lost or broken far away from home. I use iCloud Photo Library to get my photos synced across devices. I actively use iCloud Drive when working with documents. I use iCloud syncing, including the keychain, to store my passwords and credit card data and have them all handy. I should say that I cannot work effectively without iCloud.

But we have a lot of security and privacy concerns. We completely understand that it is not possible to pick all three from the “security, privacy, usability” trio, but please give at al least two.

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ElcomSoft vs. The Cloud: a Game of Cat and Mouse

May 12th, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

We’ve got a few forensic tools for getting data off the cloud, with Apple iCloud and Google Account being the biggest two. Every once in a while, the cloud owners (Google and Apple) make changes to their protocols or authentication mechanisms, or employ additional security measures to prevent third-party access to user accounts. Every time this happens, we try to push a hotfix as soon as possible, sometimes in just a day or two. In this article, we’ll try to address our customers’ major concerns, give detailed explanations on what’s going on with cloud access, and provide our predictions on what could happen in the future.

Update 19/05/2017: what we predicted has just happened. Apple has implemented additional checks just two days ago. This time, the extra checks do not occur during the authentication stage. Instead, the company started blocking pull requests for backup data originating from what appears to Apple as a desktop device (as opposed to being an actual iPhone or iPad). Once again we had to rush a hotfix to our customers, releasing an update just today. Whether or not our solution stands the test of time is hard to tell at this time. It seems this time it’s no longer a game but a war.

This whole Apple blocking third-party clients issue creates numerous problems to our customers who are either legitimate Apple users or law enforcement officials who must have access to critical evidence now as opposed to maybe getting it from Apple in one or two weeks. This time it’s not about security or privacy of Apple customers. After all, accounts protected with two-factor authentication are and have been safe. We’ve had similar experience with Adobe several years ago, and surprisingly, it turned out Adobe had reasons beyond privacy or security of its customers.

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Extracting Text Messages from Google Accounts

April 26th, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer 1.30 can now pull SMS (text) messages straight off the cloud, and offers enhanced location processing with support for Routes and Places. In this article, we’ll have a close look at the new features and get detailed instructions on how to use them. The first article will discuss the text messages, while enhanced location data will be covered in the one that follows.

Text Messages: Part of Android Backups (sort of)

Before we begin extracting text messages, let us check where they come from. As you may know, Android 6.0 has finally brought automated data backups. While Android backups are not nearly as complete or as comprehensive as iOS backups, they still manage to save the most important things such as device settings, the list of installed apps and app data into the cloud. Being a Google OS, Android makes use of the user’s Google Account to store backups. Unlike Apple, Google does not count the space taken by these backups towards your Google Drive allotment. At the same time, Google allows for a very limited data set to be saved into the cloud, so you can forget about multi-gigabyte backups you have probably seen in iOS.

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Routes and Places: Obtaining Enhanced Location Data from Google Accounts

April 26th, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

Even before we released Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer, you’ve been able to download users’ location data from Google. What you would get then was a JSON file containing timestamped geolocation coordinates. While this is an industry-standard open data format, it provides little insight on which places the user actually visits. A full JSON journal filled with location data hardly provides anything more than timestamped geographic coordinates. Even if you pin those coordinates to a map, you’ll still have to scrutinize the history to find out which place the user has actually gone to.

Google has changed that by introducing several mapping services running on top of location history. With its multi-million user base and an extremely comprehensive set of POI, Google can easily make educated guesses on which place the user has actually visited. Google knows (or makes a very good guess) when you eat or drink, stay at a hotel, go shopping or do other activities based on your exact location and the time you spent there. This extra information is also stored in your Google account – at least if you use an Android handset and have Location History turned on.

Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer 1.30 can now process Google’s enhanced location data, which means we can now correctly identify, extract and process user’s routes and display places they visited (based on Google’s POI). This significantly improves readability of location data, providing a list of places (such as restaurants, landmarks or shops) instead of plain numbers representing geolocation coordinates. In this article, we’ll figure out how to obtain that data and how to analyze it. Read the rest of this entry »

How Long Does It Take to Crack Your Password?

April 4th, 2017 by Oleg Afonin

We hear the “how long will it take to break…” question all the time. The answer is always the same: “it depends”. In this article we’ll try to give a detailed explanation and a definite answer for as many possible combinations as possible.

Do you need that password?

First thing first: are you sure you absolutely need o know that password? In many cases, protection can be removed without cracking the original password. This, for example, applies to legacy Quicken and QuickBooks documents, Microsoft Office documents saved in Microsoft Office 97-2000 or newer versions of Office in the Office 97-2003 format with default encryption settings, Microsoft SQL Server databases and certain types of Windows passwords (with few exceptions). Read the rest of this entry »

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