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Frozen Android Phones Give Up Data Secrets


A frosty android.

Researchers cracked the encryption of an Android smartphone through a process that included freezing the handset for an hour.

Credit: Mocana

Friedrich-Alexander University researchers were able to bypass the encryption system of an Android smartphone by freezing it for an hour. The researchers discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of the phone cooled to below -10 degrees Celsius forced the handset into a vulnerable mode.

Afterwards, Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth, and Felix Freiling used their custom-built software, Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones, to start up the phone rather than the onboard Android operating system. They copied data in order to conduct an analysis on a separate computer.

As part of their hacking project, the cooled phone enabled the team to grab the encryption keys and accelerate unscrambling of the phone's contents, such as contact lists, browsing histories, and photos.

The researchers used a Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset, but they believe other phones also are vulnerable to such an attack.

From BBC News
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