Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’

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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iCloud Photo Library: All Your Photos Are Belong to Us

Thursday, August 25th, 2016

Releasing a major update of a complex forensic tool is always tough. New data locations and formats, new protocols and APIs require an extensive amount of research. Sometimes, we discover things that surprise us. Researching Apple’s iCloud Photo Library (to be integrated into Elcomsoft Phone Breaker 6.0) led to a particularly big surprise. We discovered that Apple keeps holding on to the photos you stored in iCloud Photo Library and then deleted, keeping “deleted” images for much longer than the advertised 30 days without telling anyone. Elcomsoft Phone Breaker 6.0 becomes the first tool on the market to gain access to deleted images going back past 30 days.

Update September 1, 2016: Apple is fixing this as we speak. Deleted photos still appear, but we see less and less of them in every session. Whatever it was, it seems like Apple is fixing the issue as quick as they can.

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Dealing with a Locked iPhone

Friday, April 15th, 2016

So you’ve got an iPhone, and it’s locked, and you don’t know the passcode. This situation is so common, and the market has so many solutions and “solutions” that we felt a short walkthrough is necessary.

What exactly can be done to the device depends on the following factors:

Hardware Generation

iphone2

From the point of view of mobile forensics, there are three distinct generations:

  1. iPhone 4 and older (acquisition is trivial)
  2. iPhone 4S, 5 and 5C (32-bit devices, no Secure Enclave, jailbreak required, must be able to unlock the device)
  3. iPhone 5S, 6/6S, 6/6S Plus and newer (64-bit devices, Secure Enclave, jailbreak required, passcode must be known and removed in Settings)

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A Message to Our Customers, Apple and FBI

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered Apple to assist the authorities in breaking into a locked iPhone 5C used by Syed Farook, who killed 14 in San Bernardino in December. According to the FBI, the phone might contain critical information about connections with Islamic terrorist groups. Apple opposed the motion and published an open letter at https://www.apple.com/customer-letter/ saying that “The United States government has demanded that Apple take an unprecedented step which threatens the security of our customers. We oppose this order, which has implications far beyond the legal case at hand.”

So what is the government asking, does Apple have it, and is it technically possible to achieve what they are asking? Let’s try to find out.

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Why Do We Need Physical Acquisition?

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

With all the trouble of jailbreaking iOS 8 devices and the lack of support for 64-bit hardware, does iOS physical acquisition still present meaningful benefits to the investigator? Is it still worth your time and effort attempting to acquire that iPhone via a Lightning cord?

Granted, jailbroken iOS devices are rare as hen’s teeth. You are very unlikely to see one in the wild. However, we strongly believe that physical acquisition still plays an important role in the lab, and here are the reasons why.

  1. Apple’s current privacy policy explicitly denies government information requests if the device in question is running iOS 8. This means that handing over the device to Apple will no longer result in receiving its full image if the device is running iOS 8.x (source: https://www.apple.com/privacy/government-information-requests/)
  2. In many countries (Mexico, Brazil, Russia, East Europe etc.) Apple sells more 32-bit phones than 64-bit ones. Old iPhones traded in the US are refurbished and sold to consumers in other countries (BrightStar coordinates these operations for Apple in the US). As an example, new and refurbished iPhone 4S and 5 units accounted for some 46% of all iPhones sold through retail channels in Russia in Q1 2015.
  3. Physical extraction returns significantly more information compared to any other acquisition method including logical or over-the-air acquisition. In particular, we’re talking about downloaded mail and full application data including logs and cache files (especially those related to Internet activities). A lot of this information never makes it into backups.
  4. Full keychain extraction is only available with physical acquisition. Physical is the only way to fully decrypting the keychain including those records encrypted with device-specific keys. Those keychain items can be extracted from a backup file, but cannot be decrypted without a device-specific key. In addition, the keychain often contains the user’s Apple ID password.
  5. With physical acquisition, you can extract the ‘securityd’ (0x835) from the device. This key can be used to completely decrypt all keychain items from iCloud backups.
  6. Physical acquisition produces a standard DMG disk image with HFS+ file system. You can mount the image into the system and use a wider range of mobile forensic tools to analyze compared to iTunes or iCloud backup files.

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Acquiring and Utilizing Apple ID Passwords, Mitigating the Risks and Protecting Personal Information

Friday, March 27th, 2015

Legal Disclaimer

The information provided in this article is strictly for educational purposes. Therefore, you confirm that you are not going to use it to break into someone else’s Apple account. If you wish to apply ideas described in this article, you are taking full responsibility for your actions.

Non-Legal Disclaimer

Just relax. It’s not like we’re giving away tips on how to download celebrities’ photos or hack the prime minister’s iPhone.

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ElcomSoft Open Letter on Latest Developments in iCloud Security

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

In light of recent security outbreaks, Apple introduced a number of changes to its security policies. As one of the leading security companies and a major supplier of forensic software for iOS devices, ElcomSoft is being constantly approached by IT security specialists, journalists and forensic experts. The most common question is: how will the new security measures affect iOS forensics? (more…)

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About iTunes and iCloud Backups But Were Afraid to Ask

Monday, March 31st, 2014

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.

iPhone Backups

Mobile phones are everywhere. They are getting increasingly more complex and increasingly more powerful, producing, consuming and storing more information than ever. Today’s smart mobile devices are much more than just phones intended to make and receive calls. Let’s take Apple iPhone. The iPhone handles our mail, plans our appointments, connects us to other people via social networks, takes and shares pictures, and serves as a gaming console, eBook reader, barcode scanner, Web browser, flashlight, pedometer and whatnot. As a result, your typical iPhone handles tons of essential information, keeping the data somewhere in the device. But what if something happens to the iPhone? Or what if nothing happens, but you simply want a newer-and-better model? Restoring the data from a backup would be the simplest way of initializing a new device. But wait… what backup?

Users in general are reluctant to make any sort of backup. They could make a backup copy once after reading an article urging them to back up their data… but that would be it. Apple knows its users, and decided to explore the path yet unbeaten, making backups completely automatic and requiring no user intervention. Two options are available: local backups via iTunes and cloud backups via Apple iCloud.

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iCloud: Making Users Spy on Themselves

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Apple iCloud is a popular service providing Apple users the much needed backup storage space. Using the iCloud is so simple and unobtrusive that more than 190 million customers (as of November, 2012) are using the service on regular basis.

Little do they know. The service opens governments a back door for spying on iOS users without them even knowing. ElcomSoft researchers discovered that information stored in the iCloud can be retrieved by anyone without having access to a physical device, provided that the original Apple ID and password are known. The company even built the technology for accessing this information in one of its mobile forensic products, Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker, allowing investigators accessing backup copies of the phone’s content via iCloud services.

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