Author Archive

The Past and Future of iCloud Acquisition

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

In today’s world, everything is stored in the cloud. Your backups can be stored in the cloud. The “big brother” knows where you had lunch yesterday and how long you’ve been there. Your photos can back up to the cloud, as well as your calls and messages. Finally, your passwords are also stored online – at least if you don’t disable iCloud Keychain. Let’s follow the history of Apple iCloud, its most known hacks and our own forensic efforts.

The Timeline of iCloud and iOS Forensics

Our first iOS forensic product was released in February 2010. In 2010, we released what is known today as Elcomsoft Phone Breaker (we then called it “Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker”). Back then, we were able to brute-force the password protecting encrypted iTunes-made iOS backups. At the time, this was it: you’ve got the password, and off you go. The tool did not actually decrypt the backup or displayed its content; it just recovered the password.

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WhatsApp: The Bad Guys’ Secret Weapon

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

WhatsApp is one of the most secure messengers with full end-to-end encryption. Messages exchanged between WhatsApp users are using an encrypted point-to-point communication protocol rendering man-in-the-middle attacks useless. WhatsApp communications are never stored or backed up on WhatsApp servers. All this makes government snooping on WhatsApp users increasingly difficult.

WhatsApp has more than a billion users. WhatsApp makes use of the Open Whisper Signal communication protocol to secure communications with end-to-end encryption. WhatsApp users rely on that security to freely exchange messages, discuss sensitive things and, with limited success, avoid religious and political oppression in certain countries. Today, some governments attempt to criminalize WhatsApp protection measures, ban end-to-end encryption and do everything in their power to undermining trust in secure communication tools. What is it all about, and how to find the right balance between public safety and security is the topic of this article.

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Physical Acquisition Is…

Thursday, July 13th, 2017

…dead? Not really, not completely, and not for every device. We’ve just updated iOS Forensic Toolkit to add physical support for some previously unsupported combinations of hardware (32-bit devices) and software (iOS 9.1 through 9.3.4). The intent was helping our law enforcement and forensic customers clear some of the backlog, finally taking care of evidence kept on dusty shelves in the back room. In order to do the extraction, you’ll need to install the “Home Depot” jailbreak from http://wall.supplies and, obviously, Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit 2.30.

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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 Extracts Deleted Safari Browsing History from iCloud

Thursday, February 9th, 2017

Your browsing history represents your habits. You are what you read, and your browsing history reflects that. Your Google searches, visits to news sites, activities in blogs and forums, shopping, banking, communications in social networks and other Web-based activities can picture your daily activities. It could be that the browsing history is the most intimate part of what they call “online privacy”. You wouldn’t want your browsing history become public, would you?

“When I die, delete my browsing history”. This is what many of us want. However, if you’re an iPhone user, this is not going to work. Apple may hide your browsing history but still keep your records in the cloud, and someone (maybe using ElcomSoft tools) could eventually download your browsing history. How could this happen? Read along to find out!

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iOS 10 Physical Acquisition with Yalu Jailbreak

Monday, January 30th, 2017

Just a few days ago we updated iOS Forensic Toolkit with iOS 10 support. At that time, no jailbreak was available for iOS 10.2. As a consequence, physical acquisition was impossible.

A working jailbreak materialized much sooner than we could’ve hoped. Luca Todesco released a working Yalu102 jailbreak, allowing enthusiasts to mod their devices and enabling forensic experts perform physical acquisition of select iOS devices.

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FBI Can Unlock Most Devices They Need To

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

According to Jim Baker, FBI General Counsel, the bureau can access information on most smartphones they are dealing with, even if encryption is enabled. In this article, we tried to find out which devices they can and cannot unlock, and why.

The FBI Can Unlock 87% Mobile Devices

According to Jim Baker, the agency can unlock some 87% of mobile devices, and get access to the data. So which devices they can and cannot unlock, exactly? Before we start crunching the numbers, please have a look at the following infographics:

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Extracting Calls, Contacts, Calendars and Web Browsing Activities from iOS Devices in Real Time

Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Cloud acquisition has been available for several years. iPhones and iPads running recent versions of iOS can store snapshots of their data in the cloud. Cloud backups are created automatically on a daily basis provided that the device is charging while connected to a known Wi-Fi network. While iCloud backups are great for investigations, there is one thing that might be missing, and that’s up-to-date information about user activities that occurred after the moment the backup was created. In this article, we’ll discuss an alternative cloud acquisition option available for iOS devices and compare it to the more traditional acquisition of iCloud backups.

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“We take privacy very seriously” – Apple, we do not buy it, sorry

Friday, November 18th, 2016

Good news: Apple has officially responded.

Bad news: We don’t buy it. Their response seems to address a different issue; worse, some of the reporters just quoted what Apple said without real understanding of the actual issue. So let’s try to follow the story step by step.

Apple has an option to back up phone data to iCloud. Doing that for many years now. On our side, we have a feature to download iCloud backups. The feature has been there for years, too. We are also able to download everything from iCloud Drive (including data belonging to third-party apps, something that is not available by standard means). We can download media files from iCloud Photo Library (and by the way, we discovered that they were not always deleted, see iCloud Photo Library: All Your Photos Are Belong to Us). Then we started to research how iOS devices sync data with iCloud, and discovered that Apple stores more than they officially say. All iOS versions allow users to choose which bits of data are to be synced – such as contacts, notes, calendars and other stuff. Here is a screen shot from iCloud settings captured on iPhone running iOS 10:


icloud_drive

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