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Posts Tagged ‘iMessage’

Messages in iCloud: How to Extract Full Content Including Media Files, Locations and Documents

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

In today’s usage scenarios, messaging are not entirely about the text. Users exchange pictures and short videos, voice recordings and their current locations. These types of data are an important part of conversation histories; they can be just as valuable evidence as the text content of the chat.

Apple ecosystem offers a built-in messenger, allowing users to exchange iMessages between Apple devices. This built-in messenger is extremely popular among Apple users. Back in 2016, Apple’s Senior VP announced that more than 200,000 iMessages are sent every second.

All current versions of iOS are offering seamless iCloud synchronization for many categories of data. Starting with iOS 11.4, Apple devices can synchronize messages via iCloud. iMessages and text messages can be now stored in the user’s iCloud account and synchronized across all of the user’s devices sharing the same Apple ID. This synchronization works in a similar manner to call logs, iCloud Photo Library or iCloud contacts sync (albeit with somewhat longer delays). However, Apple will not provide neither the messages themselves nor their attachments when fulfilling LE requests or GDPR pullouts. Why is this happening, how to extract messages from iCloud accounts and what kind of evidence we can find in attachments? Read along to find out.

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iMessage Security, Encryption and Attachments

Thursday, November 15th, 2018

iMessage is undoubtedly one of the most popular instant messaging platforms for an obvious reason: it’s built in to iOS and ships with every iPhone by default. iMessage does not require complex setup, so the number of iMessage users is closely matching the number of iPhone users. Apple sells about 200 million iPhones every year, and the total number of iPhones sold is more than a billion. Unless you absolutely must chat with someone outside of Apple’s ecosystem (like those poor Android folks), you won’t need Skype, WhatsApp or Telegram. It’s also comforting to know that iMessage works everywhere around the world while most other messengers are oppressed in one or more countries.

But what about iMessage security? Is it safe to use if you’re concerned about your privacy? Is there a reason why countries such as China, Iran or Russia block other messengers but keep iMessage going? Is it safe from hackers? What about Law Enforcement? And what about Apple itself? It must have access to your messages to target the ads, right? Is it OK to send those private snapshots or share your location via iMessage?

There is no simple answer, but we’ll do our best to shed some light on that.

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How to Obtain iMessages from iCloud

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

iOS 11.4 has finally brought a feature Apple promised almost a year ago: the iMessage sync via iCloud. This feature made its appearance in iOS 11 beta, but was stripped from the final release. It re-appeared and disappeared several times during the iOS 11 development cycle, and has finally made it into iOS 11.4. Let’s have a look at how iMessages are protected and how to download them from iCloud.

iMessages in iCloud

Even before iOS 11 Apple had Continuity (https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT204681), a convenient mechanism for accessing iMessages from multiple Apple devices registered with the same Apple ID. With Continuity, users can effectively send and receive iMessages on their Mac. Speaking of Mac computers, one could access iMessages by simply signing in to the same iCloud account in the Messages app. Without Continuity, one would only receive iMessages with no SMS; with Continuity, both iMessages and SMS messages would be delivered.

However, even with Continuity in place, iMessages were never stored in iCloud or synced with iCloud. Instead, the messages were only stored locally on enrolled devices. This led to a major problem, making it impossible for the user to keep iMessage conversations in sync between their iPhone, iPad and Mac devices. If the user deleted a message in the iPhone app, it would not be deleted on their Mac, and vice versa. Forensic experts knew about this, and made active use of this feature. Multiple cases are known where law enforcement experts were analyzing the user’s Mac in order to gain access to iMessages that were already wiped from their iPhone.

iCloud sync for iMessage introduced in iOS 11.4 takes care of this problem by changing the way iMessage sync is handled. Instead of using the flawed Continuity mechanism, iOS 11.4 now stores iMessages in iCloud. The messages are automatically synchronized across all enrolled devices on the user’s Apple ID. iCloud sync works similar to existing synchronizations such as iCloud Keychain, iCloud Photo Library or iCloud contacts. (more…)

iCloud and iMessage Security Concerns

Thursday, June 14th, 2018

We also trust these companies in ways that we do not understand yet. How many of you trust Apple? No voting… Just me 🙂 Damn! OK. May I ask you a very good question. Trusting to do what? Trusting when they say: “iMessages are end-to-end encrypted”? I mean, with all of that massive security engineering, to make sure it’s as good as it can be, so they genuinely believe they’ve done that. I do, generally, they’re great people. But… people believe themselves they can defend themselves against the Russians. If the Russians specifically targeted Apple, it’s only they can defend themselves.Ian Levy, director at the GCHQ on anniversary of the foundation of the FIPR event that was held on 29/04/2018).

This is probably just a co-incident, but “the Russians” are concerned about iCloud security, too.

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