Posts Tagged ‘backup’

The number of iOS 14 users is on the raise, and we will see it running on most Apple devices pretty soon. Apple had already stopped signing the last version of iOS 13 on all but legacy hardware. Soon, we will only see it running on the iPhone 5s and iPhone 6 which didn’t get the update, and on a small fraction of newer devices. If you are working in the forensic field, what do you need to do to make yourself ready for iOS 14? Our software may help.

The iOS backup system is truly unrivalled. The highly comprehensive, versatile and secure backups can be created with Apple iTunes. For the user, local backups are a convenient and easy way to transfer data to a new device or restore an existing one after a factory reset. For forensic experts, iOS backups are an equally convenient, versatile and easy way to obtain a copy of the user’s data without attempting to break into the device. In malicious hands, the backup becomes a dangerous weapon. Logins and passwords from the Keychain allow hackers accessing the user’s social accounts, messages, and financial information. A backup password can be set to protect local backups, but it can be removed just as easily shall the hacker have access to the physical iPhone and know its passcode. In this article, we’ll discuss how the Screen Time password can be used to further strengthen the protection of local backups.

How can you obtain the highest amount of data from an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV or Apple Watch? This is not as simple as it may seem. Multiple overlapping extraction methods exist, and some of them are limited to specific versions of the OS. Let’s go through them and summarize their availability and benefits.

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…)

Apple has a wonderfully integrated ecosystem. Apple computers, tablets and phones conveniently synchronize information such as passwords, Web browsing history, contacts and call logs across all of the user’s devices. This synchronization mechanism uses iCloud to sync and store information. The syncing mechanism works independently from iOS system backups that are also stored in iCloud (or iCloud Drive). As opposed to daily iCloud backups, synchronized data is updated and propagated across devices in almost real time. Extracting this information can be invaluable for investigations as it provides access to the most up to date information about the user, their activities and whereabouts.

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.

Two-factor authentication a roadblock when investigating an Apple device. Obtaining a data backup from the user’s iCloud account is a common and relatively easy way to acquire evidence from devices that are otherwise securely protected. It might be possible to bypass two-factor authentication if one is able to extract a so-called authentication token from the suspect’s computer.

The previous article was about the theory. In this part we’ll go directly to practice. If you possess a turned on and locked iOS device and have no means of unlocking it with either Touch ID or passcode, you may still be able to obtain a backup via the process called logical acquisition. While logical acquisition may return somewhat less information compared to the more advanced physical acquisition, it must be noted that physical acquisition may not be available at all on a given device.

Do you think you know everything about creating and using backups of Apple iOS devices? Probably not. Our colleague and friend Vladimir Bezmaly (MVP Consumer security, Microsoft Security Trusted Advisor) shares some thoughts, tips and tricks on iTunes and iCloud backups.