Archive for the ‘Tips & Tricks’ Category

iOS DFU Mode Starter: Automating the Apple Dance

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

Switching iPhones into a DFU (Device Firmware Update) mode is a hassle. Power off, press that and hold those that many seconds, release this but continue holding that until hopefully something happens on the phone. Many iPhone users have major troubles switching their iPhones into DFU mode. Luckily for them, they don’t have to do the Apple Dance too often.

Criminal investigators, police officers and workers of the intelligence are not as lucky. They have dozens of iPhones to process every day, hundreds every week. “When I get an iPhone, I only have two hours”, says a police officer who’s name we cannot disclose. “In 120 minutes, I have to acquire and process information from that phone. Honestly, I can rarely complete it in a proper way.”

Here at ElcomSoft, we’re trying to do everything to make the life of investigators easier. Performing a physical acquisition with EIFT, which is the only proper way to capture everything in the phone, only takes 20 to 40 minutes depending on the model. But here comes another pitfall. Unlike pickpockets and fraudsters with long, thin fingers, police officers have big hands and firm, strong fingers. Performing the Apple Dance is extremely frustrating and almost physically painful. “I have to try and try before I can twist my fingers to hold those damn buttons”, confesses another police officer. “These damn things are too small and slick”.

Visiting the EuroForensics conference a few days ago, I was demonstrating how easy it was to switch an iPhone into DFU mode. I did it right the first time, but on a second try I failed miserably. “I’m too old for this shtuff”, commented yet another visitor whose badge simply read “Special Agent”.

I passed my concerns to ElcomSoft R&D department, and they built a mockup of an ingenious device automating this sort of things. They called it “iOS DFU Mode Starter”. As a first mockup, it’s not yet perfect. It requires careful placement of the device, and you have to plug a USB cable by hand. Other than that, iOS DFU Mode Starter can switch the device into Debug Firmware Update mode with 100% reliability. “It’s almost infallible”, says Andrey Belenko, ElcomSoft leading researcher. “And it was incredible fun to build”.

Here’s a video demonstrating how the new device works:

 

Why LEGO?

I was shocked at first when I saw the robot. A LEGO? Are you guys kidding me? It turned out our R&D guys were serious as ever. Here’s what Andrey Belenko has to say about this robot.

“Constructing mockups and early prototypes with LEGO bricks is commonplace for building robots. Honestly, LEGO blocks are a godsend to all robot builders. Don’t be fooled with the look of the thing; these bricks are a serious prototyping tool.”

“LEGO bricks hold together amazingly well under low and medium load. LEGO blocks come in a wide assortment of shapes and sizes. They give a tight fit, they are reusable, and they save us a lot of time when prototyping. We’re not building an industrial piece; this robot simply handles a modern electronic device. No force is required.”

Whether or not this device goes into production, and what the price is going to be like if it does is yet to be determined.

Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit highlighted in SANS Information Security Reading Room

Monday, August 15th, 2011

SANS Information Security Reading Room has recently publicized a whitepaper about iOS security where they mentioned our software – Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit – in a section about encryption. Kiel Thomas, the author of the whitepaper, explained one more time the main principles of iOS 4 encryption, which became stronger in comparison with iOS 3.x and how our toolkit can bypass new strong algorithms.

In its next part about iTunes Backups Kiel touches upon Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker which virtually crunches backup passwords at speed of 35000 passwords per second (with AMD Radeon HD 5970) using both brute force and dictionary attacks, here are some benchmarks.

It seems the paper does not miss out on any nuance about iOS 4 and provides practical advice to either avoid or prevent from the depressing outcomes, such as loss of data. Closer to the end of the paper you will also find several sagacious tips for using the devices within organizations, including passcode management, a so called “first line of defense” which according Kiel’s view “can be matched to existing password policies”, however he inclines to use passwords instead of 4 digit passcodes.

And in conclusion the author discovers that smartphone and tablet security measurements resemble the ones of laptops, because they all belong to mobile devices.  Find out more details in the source itself: http://www.sans.org/reading_room/whitepapers/pda/security-implications-ios_33724
 

Firefox, Safari, Opera, and Chrome Passwords Cracked

Thursday, November 11th, 2010

What is a Web browser for you? It’s virtually a whole world, all together: web sites, blogging, photo and video sharing, social networks, instant messaging, shopping… did I forget anything? Oh yes, logins and passwords. :)  Set an account here, sign in there, register here and sing up there – everywhere you need logins and passwords to confirm your identity.

Yesterday, we recovered login and password information to Internet Explorer only, but it was yesterday… Now, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Google Chrome and Opera Web browsers are at your disposal.

Let’s plunge into some figures…

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Hacking For Dummies, 3rd Edition by Kevin Beaver

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Although this new book is on sale from January this year, we are happy to officially say our words of gratitude to Kevin Beaver and advise it to you.

In his book Kevin insists that the best way to really understand how to protect your systems and assess their security is to think from a hacker’s viewpoint, get involved, learn how systems can be attacked, find and eliminate their vulnerabilities.  It all practically amounts to being inquisitive and focusing on real problems as in contrast to blindly following common security requirements without understanding what it’s all about.

Kevin extensively writes on the questions of cracking passwords and weak encryption implementations in widely used operating systems, applications and networks. He also suggests Elcomsoft software, in particular Advanced Archive Password Recovery, Elcomsoft Distributed Password Recovery, Elcomsoft System Recovery, Proactive Password Auditor, and Elcomsoft Wireless Security Auditor, as effective tools to regularly audit system security and close detected holes.

In this guide Kevin communicates the gravity of ethical hacking in very plain and clear words and gives step –by- step instructions to follow. He easily combines theory and praxis providing valuable tips and recommendations to assess and then improve security weaknesses in your systems.

We want to thank Kevin for testing and including our software in his very “digestible” beginner guide to hacking and recommend our readers this book as a helpful tool to get all facts in order. :)

ATI is at it. Again.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Two months ago I wrote a blog post "ATI and NVIDIA: Making Friends out of Enemies" where (among other things) I wrote:

Developing software for ATI cards is (okay — was) a nightmare. In 2009 ATI quietly introduced two changes in their drivers which made previously perfectly functional and compatible applications to crash (if you are curious: with Catalyst 9.2 or 9.3 they’ve changed names of supporting DLLs bundled with drivers; with Catalyst 9.9 or 9.10 they’ve probably changed format of underlying binary so that anything compiled and linked in with earlier versions caused a driver to crash).

Well, with the release of Catalyst 10.4 drivers ATI is again at it. This time problem only affects users who have display adapters from different vendors in their computer. Applications utilizing ATI Stream will work on such configurations just fine with Catalyst 10.3, but once you upgrade to 10.4, applications will crash with faulting module being aticaldd.dll, a part of ATI Display driver. Kinda embarrassing, I would say. Regression testing is really something one with millions of users should consider.

Users of our software relying on ATI hardware accelerations (as well as any other ATI Stream enabled applications) should not update to 10.4 if ATI Readeon is not the only card in their computer.

Advanced Office Password Recovery: customizing the preliminary attack

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009

 Every time when you open a document in Advanced Office Password Recovery it performs the preliminary attack in case when the "file open" password is set. This attack tries all passwords that you recovered in past (which are stored in password cache), dictionary attack and finally the brute-force attack is running.

The brute-force attack consists of two parts:

1. Trying digits and latin letters
2. Trying national characters depending on code page set in Windows.

Before this time these parts were hardcoded in the program. The new version of Advanced Office Password Recovery has an option to customize the preliminary brute-force attack. 

Look to the directory where AOPR is installed. There is "attacks.xml" file inside. The first section of this file is the language map:

The codes are Windows language identifiers. You can link any LID to your custom name.

The next section contains predefined charsets:

All charsets are in unicode so you can define any national characters here.

And the final section is "documents". All parts of this section has comments about document types. You can define the "common" charsets and charsets that are related to system language. Each "attack" record defines password length and charset.

In this XML file you can simply change the standard preliminary attack and define the custom charsets for your language. I hope this will help to recover your Office passwords faster.

Password masking: myths and truths

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

Password masking: myths and truthsEver heard of password masking problem? To be honest, I have not – until I’ve read the Stop Password Masking article by Jakob Nielsen (somewhere referred to as "usability guru"), followed by a lot of other publications, blog posts and comments (see ‘em all); so-called security guru Bruce Schneier wrote even two essays on that. 

Well, that reminded me of a very funny stupid CAPSoff Campaign

In brief, here is the "problem": for years (I think starting from Windows 3.0 released almost 20 years ago), the passwords are being masked as you type them (in most programs what have any kind of password protection, and an operating system itself), i.e. replaced with asterisks or black circles. What for? To prevent the password from being read by someone who stands behind you.

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Disaster Recovery and its key objectives

Monday, July 6th, 2009

Disaster Recovery and its key objectives

New statistics* shows disaster recovery (DR) is getting more attention, and more upper level execs become involved with DR issues. Ideally, each company should have an emergency plan in case of power/system failure, loss of access, outside attack, sabotage or else – called DRP (disaster recovery plan) or even DRRP (disaster response and recovery plan). DRP is only a part of risk management practices which ensure emergency preparedness and risk reduction and include such initiatives as regular data backups, stocking recovery software, archiving, etc. – these activities are reflected in PMI and NIST standards.

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The U.S. statutes on password related crimes – overview by states

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

In this entry I’d like to suggest a kind of a list of various legal decisions on password [ab]use I could find on the web. Your add-ins are welcome, just put in any other acts you know…

Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act
(e) Computer Password Disclosure. Any person who discloses a number, code, password, or other means of access to a computer or computer network knowing that such disclosure is without authority and which results in damages (including the fair market value of any services used and victim expenditure) to the owner of the computer or computer network in excess of $500.00 shall be guilty of the crime of computer password disclosure.
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Using Passwords Online

Monday, June 1st, 2009

 Today’s technologies allow staying online practically 24 hrs a day, periodically falling into a sleeping mode. The Internet became easily accessible and numerous devices can connect us to the web from everywhere, and every time when we surf the web we are being registered, at least via IP address of our devices. 

I bet it was more than once that you had to fill out a sort of name-company-position-email-telephone-whatever form when registering or subscribing to something. Do you think about preserving privacy of your information when leaving such data on someone’s website? (more…)