Archive for May, 2017

Android Encryption Demystified

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

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

Friday, May 19th, 2017

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. (more…)

On Apple iCloud security and ‘deleted’ notes

Friday, May 19th, 2017

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

Friday, May 12th, 2017

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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