Archive for the ‘Security’ Category

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 art of iOS and iCloud forensics

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017
  • The rise and fall of physical acquisition
  • Jailbreak to the rescue
  • In the shade of iCloud
  • iCloud Keychain acquisition hits the scene

iOS 11 has arrived, now running on every second Apple device. There could not be a better time to reminiscent how iOS forensics has started just a few short years ago. Let’s have a look at what was possible back then, what is possible now, and what can be expected of iOS forensics in the future.

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Can You Unlock That iPhone?

Monday, October 30th, 2017

“Can you unlock that iPhone?” is one of the most common questions we hear on various events and from our customers. There is no simple answer, but more often than not some options are available.

Just a few years back, the most common question was “can you crack that password?” We are still being asked that every other day, but locked iPhones are now more abundant than unknown passwords. There is a simple explanation for that: the iPhone is an ultimate source of evidence. That, before we even mention the many urgent cases when the phone needs to be unlocked.

Cover all possible scenarios in one short article would not be possible; for (much) more details you are welcome to read our Smartphone forensics book that explores the topic in depth. Keep reading to see what can be done in some cases.

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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…)

iOS 11: jailbreaking, backups, keychain, iCloud – what’s the deal?

Thursday, September 14th, 2017

iOS 11 is finally here. We already covered some of the issues related to iOS 11 forensics, but that was only part of the story.

Should we expect a jailbreak? Is there still hope for physical acquisition? If not, is logical acquisition affected? Are there any notable changes in iCloud? What would be easier to do: logical or iCloud acquisition, and what are the prerequisites for either method? What do you begin with? How to make sure the suspect does not alter their iCloud storage or wipe their device in the process? Can we actually get more information from the cloud than from the device itself, even with physical, and why?

Spoiler: the short answer to the last question is “yes”. The long answer is a bit complicated. Keep reading.

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iOS 11 Does Not Fix iCloud and 2FA Security Problems You’ve Probably Never Heard About

Monday, September 11th, 2017

In the US, Factory Reset Protection (FRP) is a mandatory part of each mobile ecosystem. The use of factory reset protection in mobile devices helped tame smartphone theft by discouraging criminals and dramatically reducing resale value of stolen devices. Compared to other mobile ecosystems, Apple’s implementation of factory reset protection has always been considered exemplary. A combination of a locked bootloader, secure boot chain and obligatory online activation of every iPhone makes iCloud lock one exemplary implementation of factory reset protection.

All one needs to do is enable the Find My Phone option in iCloud settings. In fact, this option is enabled by default once you set up your new iPhone. After that, even if you lose your iPhone and someone else attempts to reset it to factory defaults, the device will be still locked to your iCloud account. Unlocking the device (removing iCloud lock) requires access to your Apple ID, password, and secondary authentication factor if you have Two-Factor Authentication enabled. Sounds pretty secure so far?

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New Security Measures in iOS 11 and Their Forensic Implications

Thursday, September 7th, 2017

Apple is about to launch its next-generation iOS in just a few days. Researching developer betas, we discovered that iOS 11 implements a number of new security measures. The purpose of these measures is better protecting the privacy of Apple customers and once again increasing security of device data. While some measures (such as the new S.O.S. sequence) are widely advertised, some other security improvements went unnoticed by the public. Let us have a look at the changes and any forensic implications they have.

Establishing Trust with a PC Now Requires a Passcode

For the mobile forensic specialist, one of the most compelling changes in iOS 11 is the new way to establish trust relationship between the iOS device and the computer. In previous versions of the system (which includes iOS 8.x through iOS 10.x), establishing trusted relationship only required confirming the “Trust this computer?” prompt on the device screen. Notably, one still had to unlock the device in order to access the prompt; however, fingerprint unlock would work perfectly for this purpose. iOS 11 modifies this behaviour by requiring an additional second step after the initial “Trust this computer?” prompt has been confirmed. During the second step, the device will ask to enter the passcode in order to complete pairing. This in turn requires forensic experts to know the passcode; Touch ID alone can no longer be used to unlock the device and perform logical acquisition.

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Acquiring Apple’s iCloud Keychain

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2017

Who needs access to iCloud Keychain, and why? The newly released Elcomsoft Phone Breaker 7.0 adds a single major feature that allows experts extracting, decrypting and viewing information stored in Apple’s protected storage. There are so many ifs and buts such as needing the user’s Apple ID and password, accessing their i-device or knowing a secret security code that one may legitimately wonder: what is it all about? Let’s find out about iCloud Keychain, why it’s so difficult to crack, and why it can be important for the expert.

What is iCloud Keychain

iCloud Keychain is Apple’s best protected vault. Since iCloud Keychain keeps the user’s most sensitive information, it’s protected in every way possible. By breaking in to the user’s iCloud Keychain, an intruder could immediately take control over the user’s online and social network accounts, profiles and identities, access their chats and conversations, and even obtain copies of personal identity numbers and credit card data. All that information is securely safeguarded.

Why It Can Be Important

Forensic access to iOS keychain is difficult due to several layers of encryption. Due to encryption, direct physical access to a locally stored keychain is normally impossible; the only possible acquisition options are through a local password-protected backup or iCloud Keychain. (more…)

The Past and Future of iCloud Acquisition

Monday, August 21st, 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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