Since its storied battle with the FBI over an iPhone at the center of the San Bernardino shootings in 2016. Apple has been major concerned regarding the security of its smartphones. It has just released what some believe are the most secure smartphones ever made for the general public,
That was the wording used by former West Virginia State Police forensics specialist Chris Vance, speaking last month in a webcast about the hottest new iPhone hacking tech, the GrayKey. When first revealed by Forbes in March, GrayKey manufacturer Grayshift claimed it could break into locked iPhones, even the latest models with the most up-to-date iOS.
Apple has a lot to say when it comes to making their phones secure.
Vance was speaking of the halcyon days of iPhone forensics five months later, he was talking up GrayKey’s ability to harvest data from Apple devices, not just its technique for getting pass codes. That’s because GrayKey does something others cannot: It can grab the entire filesystem from an iPhone.
Vance described it as “one of the biggest forensics advancements that’s been made in years.” He even sent a password-locked iPhone X to Grayshift, which returned the filesystem and all the juicy data within. The last time feds had access this deep into non-jail broken iOS cellphones was with the iPhone 4, released way back in 2010, said Vance, now a researcher at Canadian government contractor Magnet Forensics.
Inside the filesystem is an abundance of data that could prove invaluable to police, according to Vance. Private Facebook Messenger and Instagram messages can now be swiftly retrieved. As can all email data from the Mail app. And deleted text messages, even if they’re deleted immediately after being sent or received.
The facility is not just being added to smartphones but MacBooks as well.
Add to that browser tabs that had been opened, not just on the iPhone but across synced MacBooks and iPads too. And what Wi-Fi hotspots were used by particular applications. Plus Google searches pulled from memory.
There’s also a significant amount of location data that GrayKey grabs. “There’s so much location data that right now we’re able to finally really explore again and dive deep into,” Vance said.
Even outside of GrayKey, with other forensics tools from the likes of Cellebrite, Elcomsoft, Magnet and Oxygen, law enforcement are able to draw out all kinds of information from iPhones. Ahead of the revelations around GrayKey, Forbes revealed Israeli firm Cellebrite was touting the capability to unlock the latest iPhone models in February.