Devices can be seized under various circumstances, and situations, when digital examiners do not have the passcodes to access them, are not uncommon. Such devices may stay in DFIR lab storage for years concealing crucial evidence. But you should not give up on them because brute-force methods allowing to discover device passcodes exist and keep evolving.
What is brute-force?
Brute force is a trial-and-error technique used to guess unknown information like logins, passwords, passcodes, and so on. It involves generating an array of possible values and feeding them to the input field (or screen) one by one. The more characters in the value, and the more varied they are (letters, numbers, symbols), the longer it may take to guess it.
Long and intricate passwords can take thousands and millions of years to find. However, there is always a chance that the correct combination of characters is guessed sooner rather than later, especially when employing value dictionaries that prioritize popular combinations.
How iOS device passcodes work
Modern iOS devices have 6-digit passcodes by default and also let users set 4-digit passcodes or custom numeric and alphanumeric values to secure their devices.
They also allow a limited number of login attempts. An iPhone or iPad gets disabled for one minute after six failed passcode attempts in a row. The seventh incorrect attempt locks the user out for five minutes, the eighth attempt for fifteen, and the tenth for an hour. If the eleventh attempt is unsuccessful, the device gets locked and can only be restored from an iTunes backup. For this reason, manual brute-force is rarely a viable option during a digital investigation.
How Belkasoft X can help
Belkasoft X includes an optional brute-force module with smart algorithms that lift the login attempt restriction and automatically guess passcodes. You can check the list of supported devices and versions on the brute-force module description page.
Here are some facts about Belkasoft's iOS brute-force::
- The algorithms support standard 4-digit and 6-digit passcodes and currently do not support custom numeric and alphanumeric ones; you can understand what type of passcode the device uses by its lock screen appearance
- The guessing speed of the tool depends on the model and iOS version of the device; the tool notifies you whether it uses the quick (3 passwords per second) or the slow (1 password per 8-9 minutes) mode when you start the process
- You can use embedded and custom value dictionaries for faster result
- The brute-force functionality is powered by the checkm8 acquisition method; if it does not work as expected, review the checkm8 troubleshooting list for possible solutions
- Be patient! Due to the complexity of the iOS device login mechanism and the nature of brute-force, it may take from a few minutes to a couple of decades to find a 6-digit passcode. To accelerate the process, you can create a passcode dictionary containing combinations of numbers that may be meaningful for the device owner, such as birthdays, historical dates, road numbers, zip codes, and so on.
How to get the brute-force module
If you are a government customer, you can request a quote for this module at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Private sector customers can obtain the module as a part of X Scale edition and higher.
Belkasoft X brute-force algorithms assist in circumventing security measures on iPhones and iPads. While demanding some time and attention to detail, they can aid in unlocking crucial evidence.