Posts Tagged ‘Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer’

When it comes to mobile forensics, experts are analyzing the smartphone itself with possible access to cloud data. However, extending the search to the user’s desktop and laptop computers may (and possibly will) help accessing information stored both in the physical smartphone and in the cloud. In this article we’ll list all relevant artefacts that can shed light to smartphone data. The information applies to Apple iOS devices as well as smartphones running Google Android.

Mobile Artefacts on Desktops and Laptops

Due to the sheer capacity, computer storage may contain significantly more evidence than a smartphone. However, that would be a different kind of evidence compared to timestamped and geotagged usage data we’ve come to expect from modern smartphones.

How can the user’s PC or Mac help mobile forensic experts? There several types of evidence that can help us retrieve data from the phone or the cloud.

  1. iTunes backups. While this type of evidence is iPhone-specific (or, rather, Apple-specific), a local backup discovered on the user’s computer can become an invaluable source of evidence.
  2. Saved passwords. By instantly extracting passwords stored in the user’s Web browser (Chrome, Edge, IE or Safari), one can build a custom dictionary for breaking encryption. More importantly, one can use stored credentials for signing in to the user’s iCloud or Google Account and performing a cloud extraction.
  3. Email account. An email account can be used to reset a password to the user’s Apple or Google account (with subsequent cloud extraction using the new credentials).
  4. Authentication tokens. These can be used to access synchronized data in the user’s iCloud account (tokens must be used on the user’s computer; on macOS, transferable unrestricted tokens may be extracted). There are also tokens for Google Drive (can be used to access files in the user’s Google Drive account) and Google Account (can be used to extract a lot of data from the user’s Google Account). The computer itself is also an artefact as certain authentication tokens are “pinned” to a particular piece of hardware and cannot be transferred to another device. If the computer is a “trusted” device, it can be used for bypassing two-factor authentication.

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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.

The two biggest challenges of cloud extraction have always been the account password and the secondary authentication factor. Without the correct password, accessing information in the user’s iCloud or Google Account was nearly impossible, the only alternative being the lengthy and complex legal process. Several years back, we developed a workaround, allowing experts to use binary authentication token to access Apple iCloud backups and synced data without the password. Today, we are introducing the same thing for Google accounts. If you have access to the user’s computer (Mac or PC), you can extract a binary authentication token from that computer and use it to bypass the password and two-factor authentication protection. So let us have a look at what these tokens are, where they are stored, what’s inside, and how to use them to access and extract information from the Google Account.

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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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As you may know, we have recently updated Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer, bumping the version number from 1.30 to 1.31. A very minor update? A bunch of unnamed bug fixes and performance improvements? Not really. Under the hood, the new release has major changes that will greatly affect usage experience. What exactly has changed and why, and what are the forensic implications of these changes? Bear with us to find out.

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Even before we released Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer, you’ve been able to download users’ location data from Google. What you would get then was a JSON file containing timestamped geolocation coordinates. While this is an industry-standard open data format, it provides little insight on which places the user actually visits. A full JSON journal filled with location data hardly provides anything more than timestamped geographic coordinates. Even if you pin those coordinates to a map, you’ll still have to scrutinize the history to find out which place the user has actually gone to.

Google has changed that by introducing several mapping services running on top of location history. With its multi-million user base and an extremely comprehensive set of POI, Google can easily make educated guesses on which place the user has actually visited. Google knows (or makes a very good guess) when you eat or drink, stay at a hotel, go shopping or do other activities based on your exact location and the time you spent there. This extra information is also stored in your Google account – at least if you use an Android handset and have Location History turned on.

Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer 1.30 can now process Google’s enhanced location data, which means we can now correctly identify, extract and process user’s routes and display places they visited (based on Google’s POI). This significantly improves readability of location data, providing a list of places (such as restaurants, landmarks or shops) instead of plain numbers representing geolocation coordinates. In this article, we’ll figure out how to obtain that data and how to analyze it. (more…)

Google is pushing Android to make it a truly secure mobile OS. Mandatory encryption and secure boot make physical acquisition of new Android devices a dead end.

While securing physical devices against all types of attacks, Google continues moving stuff into the cloud. Interestingly, these activities no longer coincide with Android releases; Google can add cloud features later in the production cycle by updating Google Services on the user’s Android device. One such updated added the ability to sync call logs between Android devices by uploading data into the user’s Google Drive account. We researched the protocol and added the ability to extract synced call logs to Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer 1.20. This cloud acquisition could be the only way to extract call logs since all Android devices since Android 6.0 are shipped with full-disk encryption out of the box.

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Just now, we’ve updated Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer to version 1.10. This new release adds the ability to download email messages from the user’s Gmail account for offline analysis. In order to do that, we had to develop a highly specialized email client. We opted to use Google’s proprietary Gmail API to download mail. In this article, we’ll explain our decision and detail the benefits you’ll be getting by choosing a tool that can talk to Gmail in Gmail language. 

The Gmail API

The Gmail API is a set of publicly available APIs that can be used by third-party developers to access Gmail mailboxes. Google cites the Gmail API as the best choice for authorized access to a user’s Gmail data. According to Google, the Gmail API is an ideal solution for read-only mail extraction, indexing and backup, as well as for migrating email accounts (https://developers.google.com/gmail/api/guides/overview). Elcomsoft Cloud Explorer does exactly that: it offers read-only mail extraction to create an offline backup of messages from the user’s online account.

Unlike universal email protocols such as POP3 and IMAP, Google’s new API offers flexible access to the user’s Gmail account. By using the proprietary API, developers gain access to the user’s inbox complete with threads, messages, labels, drafts and history.

Most importantly, the Gmail API is blazing fast compared to legacy email protocols, and offers the ability to selectively download specific messages and threads (such as those falling within a certain time period).

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It is our greatest pleasure to recommend the newest edition of “Hacking For Dummies” by Kevin Beaver, an independent IT security consultant, a practical guide on computer and mobile security updated to the current state of industry. With a natural talent of word Kevin easily guides you through security issues in a very clear and consistent manner, so that all major aspects of IT security, authentication and pen-testing are covered. With such a harmonious and sequential unveiling of security subjects as in this book, it is much easier to dig deeper into particular questions of your own interest.

We know Kevin Beaver from long ago, since that very happy moment when he decided to check out our software and see how it works. Having tried all our tools and providing professional feedback Kevin immensely contributed towards our software developments.

Now it’s a great honor for us to be mentioned in various editions of his book, including the latest one, with reference to practically all of our programs, primarily because they are all meant for getting access to password protected data or encrypted disks and crypto containers. Reverse engineering and data decryption is our main focus since the very beginning of the company. However, lately the focus of our attention has been slowly drifting more “into the cloud” taking the shape of such products as Elcomsoft Explorer for WhatsApp or Elcomsoft Cloud eXplorer for Google Accounts. And it is not a coincidence that Kevin’s book covers cloud security topic as well. So, get these 408 pages of hacks and tips against them right meow and enjoy your reading.

While here at ElcomSoft we offer a limited range of tools for acquiring Android devices that’s pretty much limited to over-the-air acquisition, we are still often approached with questions when one should use cloud extraction, and when other acquisition methods should be used. In this article, we decided to sum up our experience in acquiring the various Android devices, explaining why we decided to go for a cloud acquisition tool instead of implementing the many physical and logical extraction methods. This article is a general summary of available acquisition methods for the various makes, models, chipsets and OS versions of Android smartphones. The article is not intended to be a technical guide; instead, it’s supposed to give you a heads-up on approaching Android acquisition.

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As we all know, Google collects and processes an awful lot of data about pretty much everyone who is using the company’s cloud services or owns a smartphone running the Android OS (or, to be precise, is using a device with Google Mobile Services). Just how much data is available was described in our previous article, What Google Knows about You, and Why It Matters. Today, we’ll discuss something slightly different. Meet Google Timeline, a relatively new feature extending the company’s Maps service.

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