Posts Tagged ‘passcode’

Everyone’s iPhones contain overwhelming amounts of highly sensitive personal information. Even if some of that data is not stored on the device, the iPhone itself or the data inside can work as a key to other many things from bank accounts to private family life. While there are many possible vectors of attack, the attacker will always try exploiting the weakest link. Learn to think like one, find the weakest link and eliminate the potential vulnerabilities before they are exploited. This guide comes from the forensic guys making tools for the law enforcement, helping the good guys break into the bad guys’ iPhones.

Smartphones are used for everything from placing calls and taking photos to navigating, tracking health and making payments. Smartphones contain massive amounts of sensitive information which becomes essential evidence. Accessing this evidence can be problematic or expensive, as was clearly demonstrated during the FBI-Apple encryption dispute, which was about the iPhone 5c used by the San Bernardino shooter in December 2015. With modern technological advances, iPhone 5c unlocks are no longer an issue.

We have discovered a way to unlock encrypted iPhones protected with an unknown screen lock passcode. Our method supports two legacy iPhone models, the iPhone 5 and 5c, and requires a Mac to run the attack. Our solution is decidedly software-only; it does not require soldering, disassembling, or buying extra hardware. All you need is iOS Forensic Toolkit (new version), a Mac computer, and a USB-A to Lightning cable. In this guide, we’ll demonstrate how to unlock and image the iPhone 5 and 5c devices.

Passwords are probably the oldest authentication method. Despite their age, passwords remain the most popular authentication method in today’s digital age. Compared to other authentication mechanisms, they have many tangible benefits. They can be as complex or as easy to remember as needed; they can be easy to use and secure at the same time (if used properly).

What can and what cannot be done with an iOS device using Touch ID/Face ID authentication as opposed to knowing the passcode? The differences are huge. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll only cover iOS 12 and 13. If you just want a quick summary, scroll down to the end of the article for a table.

iPhone protection becomes tougher with each iteration. The passcode is extremely hard to break, and it’s just the first layer of defense. Even if the device is unlocked or if you know the passcode, it is not that easy and sometimes impossible to access all the data stored on the device. This includes, for example, conversations in Signal, one of the most secure messengers. Apple did a very good job as a privacy and security advocate.

We loved what Apple used to do about security. During the past years, the company managed to build a complete, multi-layer system to secure its hardware and software ecosystem and protect its customers against common threats. Granted, the system was not without its flaws (most notably, the obligatory use of a trusted phone number – think SS7 vulnerability – for the purpose of two-factor authentication), but overall it was still the most secure mobile ecosystem on the market.

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.

With hardware-backed full-disk encryption and additional protection of sensitive user data located in the keychain, Apple iOS is the most secure mobile operating system out there. Acquisition approaches that are traditional for Android and Windows Phone devices (namely, JTAG, ISP and chip-off) are completely meaningless for iOS devices running even years-old generations of the system. Bypassing screen lock password (passcode) has also been long considered to be useless due to the fact user data stored in the keychain is additionally encrypted with a secure key based on the passcode.

Few days ago we have updated our iOS Forensic Toolkit to version 1.15 which includes some bugfixes and improvements and, most notably, supports passcode recovery on the new iPad (also known as iPad 3). There are no significant changes from the practical point of view (i.e. the process of passcode recovery is still exactly the same), but there is something new under the hood. So if you’re interested in iOS security and how stuff works, please read on.