Author Archive

Extracting and Using iCloud Authentication Tokens

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

In our previous blog post, we wrote everything we know about authentication tokens and Anisette data, which might allow you to bypass the “login, password and two-factor authentication” sequence. Let us have a look at how you can actually extract those tokens from a trusted computer and use them on a different computer to access a user’s iCloud account. Read Part 1 and Part 2 of the series.

Extracting Authentication Tokens from a Live System (Windows)

Extracting authentication token from a live system is as easy as running a small, stand-alone executable file you get as part of the Elcomsoft Phone Breaker package. The tool is called ATEX (atex.exe on Windows), and stands for Authentication Token Extractor.

Using the tools is extremely simple. Make sure you are logged on under the user you’re about to extract the token from, and launch ATEX with no arguments. The file named “icloud_token_<timestamp>.txt” will be created in the same folder where you launch the tool from (or C:\Users\<user_name>\AppData\Local\Temp if there are not enough permissions).

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iCloud Authentication Tokens Inside Out

Thursday, November 30th, 2017

iCloud authentication tokens in particular are difficult to grasp. What are they, what tools are they created with, where they are stored, and how and when they can be used are questions that we’re being asked a lot. Let’s try to put things together. Read Part 1 of the series.

What Authentication Tokens Are and What They Aren’t

And authentication token is a piece of data that allows the client (iCloud for Windows, Elcomsoft Phone Breaker etc.) to connect to iCloud servers without providing a login and password for every request. This piece of data is stored in a small file, and that file can be used to spare the user from entering their login and password during the current and subsequent sessions.

On the other hand, authentication tokens do not contain a password. They don’t contain a hashed password either. In other words, a token cannot be used to attack the password.

What They Are Good For and How to Use

Authentication tokens may be used instead of the login and password (and secondary authentication factor) to access information stored in the user’s iCloud account. This information includes:

  • iCloud backups (however, tokens expire quickly)
  • iCloud Photo Library, including access to deleted photos
  • Call logs
  • Notes, calendars, contacts, and a lot of other information

Using iCloud authentication tokens is probably the most interesting part. You can use an authentication token in Elcomsoft Phone Breaker Forensic to sign in to Apple iCloud and use iCloud services (download cloud backups, photos, synchronized data etc.) without knowing the user’s Apple ID password and without having to deal with Two-Factor Authentication.

Authentication tokens can be used for:

  • Signing in to iCloud services
  • Without Apple ID password
  • Without having to pass Two-Factor Authentication

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iOS 11 Horror Story: the Rise and Fall of iOS Security

Wednesday, November 29th, 2017

We loved what Apple used to do about security. During the past years, the company managed to build a complete, multi-layer system to secure its hardware and software ecosystem and protect its customers against common threats. Granted, the system was not without its flaws (most notably, the obligatory use of a trusted phone number – think SS7 vulnerability – for the purpose of two-factor authentication), but overall it was still the most secure mobile ecosystem on the market.

Not anymore. The release of iOS 11, which we praised in the past for the new S.O.S. mode and the requirement to enter a passcode in order to establish trust with a new computer, also made a number of other changes under the hood that we have recently discovered. Each and every one of these changes was aimed at making the user’s life easier (as in “more convenience”), and each came with a small trade off in security. Combined together, these seemingly small changes made devastating synergy, effectively stripping each and every protection layer off the previously secure system. Today, only one thing is protecting your data, your iOS device and all other Apple devices you have registered on your Apple account.

The passcode. This is all that’s left of iOS security in iOS 11. If the attacker has your iPhone and your passcode is compromised, you lose your data; your passwords to third-party online accounts; your Apple ID password (and obviously the second authentication factor is not a problem). Finally, you lose access to all other Apple devices that are registered with your Apple ID; they can be wiped or locked remotely. All that, and more, just because of one passcode and stripped-down security in iOS 11.

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Target: Apple Two-Factor Authentication

Tuesday, November 28th, 2017

Two-factor authentication is essential to secure one’s access to online accounts. We studied multiple implementations of two-factor authentication including those offered by Apple, Google and Microsoft. While Google’s implementation offers the largest number of options, we feel that Apple has the most balanced implementation. The closed ecosystem and the resulting deep integration with the core OS makes it easy for Apple to control exactly how it works and on which devices.

Suppressing the Prompt

Since Apple introduced Two-Factor Authentication (as a replacement of the older and much less secure Two-Step Verification), Apple customers are alerted immediately of someone’s attempt to access their Apple account. A 2FA prompt is pushed instantly and concurrently to all devices the user has in their Apple account once someone attempts to log in. This has always been a hassle for forensic experts trying to perform investigations without alerting the suspect, as merely entering a login and password and seeing a 2FA prompt would mean it’s already too late, as the suspect has been alerted with a prompt.

Or, better to say, it used to be an issue. Just not anymore! Elcomsoft Phone Breaker 8.1, our newest release, now carries out an additional check (which wasn’t exactly easy to make since there is no official API and obviously no documentation), allowing the tool to detect whether or not Two-Factor Authentication is enabled on a given Apple account without triggering a 2FA prompt. The expert will now have the choice of whether to proceed (and potentially alert the suspect) or stop right there.

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The Future of Android Security: Why Google Pushes Away from SMS to Prompt Verification

Thursday, November 23rd, 2017

Google has started its journey on convincing people to move away from SMS-based verification, and start receiving push messages via the Google Prompt instead of using six-digit codes. Why does Google want us away from SMS, and why using Google Prompt instead? Let’s try to find out.

SMS Are Insecure, Aren’t They?

In late July 2016, the US National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) released an updated set of guidelines that deprecated SMS as a way to deliver two factor authentication because of their many insecurities. A year later, NIST took it back, no longer recommending to “deprecate” SMS usage. Are we, or are we not at risk if we choose to have our two-factor authentication delivered over the (arguably) insecure SMS channel?

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iOS 11 Makes Logical Acquisition Trivial, Allows Resetting iTunes Backup Password

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Since early days of iOS, iTunes-style system backups could be protected with a password. The password was always the property of the device; if the backup was protected with a password, it would come out encrypted. It didn’t matter whether one made a backup with iTunes, iOS Forensic Toolkit or other forensic software during the course of logical acquisition; if a backup password was enabled, all you’d get would be a stream of encrypted data.

Password protection of iOS system backups was always a hallmark of iOS data protection. We praised Apple for making it tougher for unauthorized persons to pair an iPhone to the computer in iOS 11. Today we discovered something that works in reverse, making it possible for anyone who can unlock an iPhone to simply reset the backup password. Is this so big of a deal? Prior to this discovery, forensic specialists would have to use high-end hardware to try recovering the original backup password at a rate of just several passwords per second, meaning that even the simplest password would require years to break. Today, it just takes a few taps to get rid of that password completely. If you know the passcode, logical acquisition now becomes a trivial and guaranteed endeavor.

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The iPhone is Locked-Down: Dealing with Cold Boot Situations

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Even today, seizing and storing portable electronic devices is still troublesome. The possibility of remote wipe routinely makes police officers shut down smartphones being seized in an attempt to preserve evidence. While this strategy used to work just a few short years ago, this strategy is counter-productive today with full-disk encryption. In all versions of iOS since iOS 8, this encryption is based on the user’s passcode. Once the iPhone is powered off, the encryption key is lost, and the only way to decrypt the phone’s content is unlocking the device with the user’s original passcode. Or is it?

The Locked iPhone

The use of Faraday bags is still sporadic, and the risk of losing evidence through a remote wipe command is well-known. Even today, many smartphones are delivered to the lab in a powered-off state. Investigating an iPhone after it has been powered off is the most difficult and, unfortunately, the most common situation for a forensic professional. Once the iOS device is powered on after being shut down, or if it simply reboots, the data partition remains encrypted until the moment the user unlocks the device with their passcode. Since encryption keys are based on the passcode, most information remains encrypted until first unlock. Most of it, but not all. (more…)

iOS vs. Android: Physical Data Extraction and Data Protection Compared

Friday, October 20th, 2017

Today’s mobile devices are getting increasingly more resistant to physical imaging, mostly due to the use of full-disk encryption. Full-disk encryption makes useless some low-level acquisition techniques of yesterday, which includes JTAG and chip-off.

iOS was using full-disk encryption since the days of iOS 4 released back in 2011, while Android only started enforcing encryption in devices manufactured with Android 6 and newer on board. Today, pretty much any smartphone you can buy new comes with full-disk encryption out of the box. Does this mean that Android smartphones are just resistant to physical imaging as their Apple counterparts, or is Android still a big security mess? Let’s have a look at some protection mechanisms implemented in modern versions of Android that are to prevent unauthorized access to user data, and how these mechanisms may become completely useless in the right circumstances. (more…)

Obtaining Detailed Information about iOS Installed Apps

Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017

Accessing the list of apps installed on an iOS device can give valuable insight into which apps the user had, which social networks they use, and which messaging tools they communicate with. While manually reviewing the apps by examining the device itself is possible by scrolling a potentially long list, we offer a better option. Elcomsoft Phone Viewer can not just display the list of apps installed on a given device, but provide information about the app’s version, date and time of acquisition (first download for free apps and date and time of purchase for paid apps), as well as the Apple ID that was used to acquire the app. While some of that data is part of iOS system backups, data on app’s acquisition time must be obtained separately by making a request to Apple servers. Elcomsoft Phone Viewer automates such requests, seamlessly displaying the most comprehensive information about the apps obtained from multiple sources.

In this how-to guide, we’ll cover the steps required to access the list of apps installed on an iOS device. (more…)

Accessing iOS Saved Wi-Fi Networks and Hotspot Passwords

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

In this how-to guide, we’ll cover the steps required to access the list of saved wireless networks along with their passwords.

Step 1: Make a password-protected backup

In order to extract the list of Wi-Fi networks from an iOS device, you must first create a password-protected local backup of the iOS device (iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch). While we recommend using Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit for making the backup (use the “B – Backup” option in the main menu), Apple iTunes can be also used to make the backup. Make sure to configure a backup password if one is not enabled; otherwise you will be unable to access Wi-Fi passwords. (more…)