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The proliferation of always connected, increasingly smart devices had led to a dramatic increase in the amount of highly sensitive information stored in manufacturers’ cloud accounts. Apple, Google, and Microsoft are the three major cloud providers who also develop their own hardware and OS ecosystems. In this report, we’ll see how these companies protect their users’ highly sensitive information compared to each other.

Cloud acquisition is one of the most common ways to obtain valuable evidence. When it comes to Google, the Google Account analysis may return significantly more data compared to the extraction of a physical Android device. However, there is one feature that is often overlooked: the ability to extract data stored in the user’s Google Account without the login and password. Let’s talk about Google authentication tokens and what they bring for the mobile forensics.

We have updated Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer, our Google Account extraction tool, with Google Dashboard support. The Google Dashboard service is little known among computer forensic specialists since Dashboard data cannot be downloaded from Google or obtained by serving a legal request. Yet, Dashboard aggregates massive amounts of data collected and stored in the user’s Google Account, offering an essential overview of the user’s activities. In this article, we’ll demonstrate how to obtain Dashboard data directly from the user’s Google account.

We have updated Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer, our Google Account extraction tool, with Google Fit support. Google Fit is a relatively little known Google service aimed at tracking the user’s health and physical activities. In line with pretty much every other Google service, Google Fit synchronizes massive amounts of data with the user’s Google Account, storing activity-related information collected by all of the user’s devices in a single place. When extracting these data, we discovered massive amounts of location points stored alongside with information related to the user’s physical activities. Learn what is stored in Google Fit and how to extract it from the cloud!

Just like the previous generation of OLED-equipped iPhones, the iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max both employ OLED panels that are prone to flickering that is particularly visible to those with sensitive eyes. The flickering is caused by PWM (Pulse Width Modulation), a technology used by OLED manufacturers to control display brightness. While both panels feature higher peak brightness compared to the OLED panel Apple used in the previous generations of iPhones, they are still prone to the same flickering at brightness levels lower than 50%. The screen flickering is particularly visible in low ambient brightness conditions, and may cause eyestrain with sensitive users.

Today’s smartphones and wearable devices collect overwhelming amounts of data about the user’s health. Health information including the user’s daily activities, workouts, medical conditions, body measurements and many other types of information is undoubtedly one of the most sensitive types of data. Yet, smartphone users are lenient to trust this highly sensitive information to other parties. In this research, we’ll figure out how Apple and Google as two major mobile OS manufacturers collect, store, process and secure health data. We’ll analyze Apple Health and Google Fit, research what information they store in the cloud, learn how to extract the data. We’ll also analyze how both companies secure health information and how much of that data is available to third parties.

An update to Google Play Services enables manual Google Drive backup option on many Android handsets. Since Android 6.0, Android has had an online backup solution, allowing Android users back up and restore their device settings and app data from their Google Drive account. Android backups were running on top of Google Play Services; in other words, they were always part of Google Android as opposed to being part of Android Open Source. Unlike iOS with predictable iCloud backups and the manual “Backup now” option, Google’s backup solution behaved inconsistently at best. In our (extensive) tests, we discovered that the first backup would be only made automatically on the second day, while data for most applications would be backed up days, if not weeks after the initial backup. The ability to manually initiate a backup was sorely missing. (more…)

Cloud acquisition is arguably the future of mobile forensics. Even today, cloud services by Apple and Google often contain more information than any single device – mostly due to the fact that cloud data is collected from multiple sources.

After testing waters for more than a year, Google has finally pulled the plug and began blocking access to Google Play services on uncertified devices. Why Google took this step, who is affected, and what it means for the end users? Let’s try to find out.

With over 1.3 billion monthly users, WhatsApp is the most popular instant messaging tool worldwide, and Android is the most popular mobile operating system by far. This makes WhatsApp acquisition from Android devices essential for the law enforcement. Elcomsoft Explorer for WhatsApp 2.30 can now download and decrypt Android user’s encrypted WhatsApp communication histories stored in Google Drive. If you have access to the user’s trusted phone number or their physical SIM card (to receive a verification code from WhatsApp), you can now use Elcomsoft Explorer for WhatsApp to download, decrypt and display WhatsApp communication histories backed up into the user’s Google Account. Surprisingly, a cloud backup may, in certain cases, contain even more information than stored on the device itself. This particularly applies to attachments (photos and videos) sent and received by WhatsApp users and then deleted from the device.