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…)
Posts Tagged ‘iPhone’
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.
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.
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.
iOS 5 Support
When developing the iOS 5 compatible version of iOS Forensic Toolkit, we found the freshened encryption to be only tweaked up a bit, with the exception of keychain encryption. The encryption algorithm protecting keychain items such as Web site and email passwords has been changed completely. In addition, escrow keybag now becomes useless to a forensic specialist. Without knowing the original device passcode, escrow keys remain inaccessible even if they are physically available.
What does enhanced security mean for the user? With iOS 5, they are getting a bit more security. Their keychain items such as Web site, email and certain application passwords will remain secure even if their phone falls into the hands of a forensic specialist. That, of course, will only last till the moment investigators obtain the original device passcode, which is only a matter of time if a tool such as iOS Forensic Toolkit is used to recover one.
What does this mean for the forensics? Bad news first: without knowing or recovering the original device passcode, some of the keychain items will not be decryptable. These items include Web site passwords stored in Safari browser, email passwords, and some application passwords.
Now the good news: iOS Forensic Toolkit can still recover the original plain-text device passcode, and it is still possible to obtain escrow keys from any iTunes equipped computer the iOS device in question has been ever synced or connected to. Once the passcode is recovered, iOS Forensic Toolkit will decrypt everything from the keychain. If there’s no time to recover the passcode or escrow keys, the Toolkit will still do its best and decrypt some of the keychain items.
Besides adding support for the latest iOS 5, Elcomsoft iOS Forensic Toolkit becomes 2 to 2.5 times faster to acquire iOS devices. When it required 40 to 60 minutes before, the new version will take only 20 minutes. For example, the updated iOS Forensic Toolkit can acquire a 16-Gb iPhone 4 in about 20 minutes, or a 32-Gb version in 40 minutes.
In our previous blog post we have described how we broke the encryption in iOS devices. One important thing was left out of that article for the sake of readability, and that is how we actually acquire the image of the file system of the device. Indeed, in order to decrypt the file system, we need to extract it from the device first.
ElcomSoft researchers were able to decrypt iPhone’s encrypted file system images made under iOS 4. While at first this may sound as a minor achievement, ElcomSoft is in fact the world’s first company to do this. It’s also worth noting that we will be releasing the product implementing this functionality for the exclusive use of law enforcement, forensic and intelligence agencies. We have a number of good reasons for doing it this way. But first, let’s have a look at perspective.
BlackBerry dominates the North American smartphone market, enjoying almost 40 per cent market share. A 20 per cent worldwide market share isn’t exactly a bad thing, too. The total subscriber base for the BlackBerry platform is more than 50 million users.
Today, we are proud to present world’s first tool to facilitate forensic analysis of BlackBerry devices by enabling access to protected data stored on users’ BlackBerries.
One of the reasons of BlackBerry high popularity is its ultimate security. It was the only commercial mobile communication device that was ever allowed to a US president: Barack Obama has won the privilege to keep his prized BlackBerry despite resistance from NSA. (On a similar note, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev was handed an iPhone 4 a day before its official release by no one but Steve Jobs himself. No worries, we crack those, too).
Finally, we’ve got our first iPhone 4 in office. And what was the first thing we did with it? Yes, test its performance to complete table in my previous post.
This brand-new iPhone 4 is capable of doing 1.4 millions MD5 iterations per second, about 35% more than iPhone 3GS.
I haven’t found any information on iPhone 4CPU clock frequency, but if we assume that it uses same chip as iPad (which seems to be the case), then exhibited performance corresponds to roughly 775 MHz.
I’ve had plans to create some kind of performance measurement app for iPhone/iPod/iPad for quite a bit time of already, and after reading recent reports that iOS 4 is very slow on iPhone 3G I thought that time had finally come.
So I’ve quickly coded an app which computed performance in MD5 hash computations per second, and here are the results:
|Device||CPU Frequency||Thousands MD5 per second|
|iPhone 3G||412 MHz||350|
|iPhone 3GS||600 MHz||
The performance scales almost linearly (with respect to CPU frequency) for iPhone 3GS and iPad.
For iPhone 3G this is, however, not the case. Although CPU clock is only 1.5 times slower when compared to iPhone 3GS, overall performance is three times slower.
Puzzled, I did some research and found out that iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS are using very different CPU cores indeed (link). The key difference is that iPhone 3GS uses dual-issue superscalar CPU which allows executing two instruction per clock. iPhone 3G utilized single-issue scalar core, and is thus limited to executing single instruction per clock. This perfectly explains missing factor of two in performance vs. clock rate difference between iPhone 3G and 3GS.