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Freezing Phones to -10 C Reveals Android's Encrypted Secrets

Hugh Pickens writes (1984118) writes | about a year ago

Android 0

Hugh Pickens writes writes "BBC reports that freezing an Android phone can help reveal its confidential contents allowing researchers to get at contact lists, browsing histories and photos of phones protected by the data scrambling system with the version of Android known as Ice Cream Sandwich. Researchers Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling from FAU first put Android phones in a freezer for an hour until the device had cooled to below -10C then discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of a frozen phone forced the handset into a vulnerable mode. This loophole let them start it up with some custom-built software rather than its onboard Android operating system. The researchers dubbed their custom code Frost — Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones. The researchers tested their attack against a Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset as it was one of the first to use Android's disk encryption system. While the "cold boot" attack had been tried on desktop PCs and laptops this was the first group to try it on phones. "We thought it would work because smartphones are really small PCs," says Tilo Muller. "but we were quite excited that the trick with the freezer worked so well.""

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