Why You Should Keep Your Smartphone Away From The Fridge
German researchers put Android phones in the freezer for an hour in an attempt to get around their encryption systems and access sensitive data. It worked.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander University in Germany were able to hack into Android phones through a relatively simple method: They put them in a freezer for an hour, cooling them to below -10 degrees Celsius (14 degrees Fahrenheit), then quickly removed and reinserted the battery. Using custom-made software, they were then able to restart the phone and access photos, contact lists, and other sensitive information stored in the phone's memory. Although the focus was on a specific type of phone, the team thinks their method may work for other phones as well.
What's the Big Idea?
According to a blog post about the research, Android's encryption system, introduced with version 4.0 of the OS, was proving especially difficult for IT forensics workers and law enforcement officials to crack. Appropriately, the software the team created was titled Forensic Recovery of Scrambled Telephones (FROST). In addition to expanding their tests to other smartphones, they are now working on ways to defend against such attacks. One of their recommendations is to move the location of encryption keys from sensitive memory chips to the phone's processor memory.
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