The FBI finally hacked into the San Bernardino shooter’s iPhone with a UFED Touch, a mobile forensic extraction device manufactured by Cellebrite – an Israeli cybersecurity firm.
The UFED Touch is a complete do-it-yourself kit. It looks like a tiny computer — about the size of an all-in-one business card scanner — with a small monitor and touch screen GUI, and a pen stylus attached. A ruggedized kit aimed at field investigators has a built-in camera for collecting evidence by taking pictures and videos of data during the extraction process.
Anyone can do it
Legendary cybersecurity expert John McAfee said in an email Q&A exchange “I have watched one (UFED Touch) being used. Astonishingly quick and effective.” According to McAfee the kit comes complete with everything needed to crack an iPhone. Although the product is marketed to law enforcement officials, McAfee says anyone can use one to hack an iPhone in less than an hour.
Cellebrite is suddenly popular with news of the iPhone hack spreading. But they aren’t the only ones with a solution for breaking into smart phones.
X-ray Droid phones
MSAB (previously known as Micro Systemation AB) is headquartered in Sweden and targets law enforcement agencies, governments, and forensics labs with its XRY product line. The XRY software app runs on Windows and turns a PC into a turnkey smart phone extraction system. MSAB offers several products which also includes an all-in-one hardware and software unit, as well as a camera unit providing similar functionality to Cellebrite’s. The XRY apps cover a wide range of devices including Android smart phones, iPhones, and others.
The Elcomsoft Mobile Forensic Bundle is a kit for corporate customers as well as law enforcement and government agencies to break smart phone passwords, decrypt data, and view information stored on mobile devices. Elcomsoft, based in Moscow, Russia, offers an iOS Forensic toolkit for iPhones and other Apple products that run iOS.
Plug and extract
Blackbag Technologies out of San Jose, Calif. develops the Mobilyze app, which turns a Mac or Windows PC into a mobile forensics system. Blackbag claims that Mobilyze is easy to use – even for investigators with limited digital forensics experience. Supposedly you just plug an iPhone or Android smart phone into a USB port on the Mac or PC running Mobilyze — and the app can extract full or partial data stored on the phone.
No training required
nFIELD is software from AccessData in Lindon, Utah that runs on Windows and is supposed to provide iOS and Android mobile data collection in five easy steps. AccessData claims that virtually no training is required to use nFIELD. A wizard driven interface enables users to click and select a range of data for extraction — including audio and media files, call history, SMS, Wifi hotspots, browser history, contacts, MMS, and more.
Law enforcement agencies and governments are the most popular users of mobile forensics kits and apps. The user base also includes corporate IT security teams and HR professionals for conducting internal investigations of company and employee-owned mobile devices.
Wannabes may prove to be a surprise market hit for the mobile forensics firms. An entrepreneurial IT pro can spend a few thousand dollars on a do-it-yourself smart phone hacking kit — and with a little bit of training they can morph into an Android or iPhone hacking-specialist-for-hire.