MacOSG: Securely erasing an iPhone/iPod touch (photos)
TweetFollow Us on Twitter

MacOSG: Securely erasing an iPhone/iPod touch (photos)

Research scientist and security expert Jonathan Zdziarski, recently discovered that the iPhone's restore mode still leaves personal data intact after preforming a restoration. Zdziarski writes, "While the restore process takes long enough to make most people assume the "disk" stored in NAND memory is formatted, it actually isn't.

As part of my work on a forensics toolkit for the iPhone, I decided to test whether user data could survive a full restore in iTunes. There have been rumors floating around that the entire NAND is flashed to 0xFF when the device is restored, but this is untrue - this only occurs in a different part of the iPhone (the NOR), but not the NAND. To confirm this theory, I first deleted any backups of my device and then forced the iPhone into recovery mode. From there, I performed a full firmware restore of my iPhone, ensuring that no backups or syncing were performed. I then performed a basic recovery of the raw disk using the forensic toolkit I put together, and analyzed it. What I discovered was that deleted mail, contacts, and pretty much all of my other personal information was still residing in unallocated space on the device. My personal information was safe and sound, and available to anyone with the right skills to recover it.

What does this mean? This means that when you do a restore through iTunes, it is only the equivalent of performing a "Quick Format" on your iPhone. And for those of you who use "Erase all Content and Settings," this has even less of an effect, as it doesn't even destroy the file system. In both cases, all of the personal information that was sitting on the device prior to the erase or restore is still left sitting in the unallocated blocks of the iPhone's NAND memory. To make matters worse, the restore process is likely to restore the original operating system files over the same location as the old ones, meaning very little data is likely to be corrupted at all."

Zdziarski goes on to report, "A verified detective from the Oregon State Police notified me that an out-of-the-box refurbished iPhone he purchased direct from Apple contained recoverable personal data including email, personal photos, and even financial information which he was able to recover using my forensic toolkit. The photos he sent me (see below) included the individual's name, which I've blurred out myself, but if you've ever had to return a defective iPhone, you might recognize this inbox. The more sensitive information hasn't been posted here for obvious reasons.

What you're looking at here is a partial list of the previous customer's files which were recovered from the iPhone's free space, and a screenshot that the iPhone took itself of the user's inbox, browser window, etc. when its user pressed the 'Home' button. Application snapshots are taken every time a program goes into the background to generate the zoom effects built into the device. And yes, the actual email and other personal data was also available."

Inbox
image























Facebook Activity
image
























Facebook Message
image
























Facbeook Profile
image
























Facebook Profile
image























So what can you do to make sure all your information is erased? Here are a few things to try:

1. Change passwords for all mail accounts that are synced to the iPhone or touch.
2. Make sure the device can no longer open the mail accounts.
3. Do an erase/restore of the iPhone or iPod touch, preferably using another computer or at least another account than the one the device was synced with.
4. Sync as many songs/videos of a non-compromising nature and nothing else to the newly restored device as will fit.
5. A good tool I recommend using to fill the drive up with data (songs/videos), is PhoneView. You can directly access the disk on your iPhone to totally fill it up.
6. After you have filled the drive up, do another erase/restore.
7. Repeat steps 4/5 with different content and erase/restore again. The more times you do this, the more times the data will be overwritten, thus having a less chance of recovery.

iPhoneView Utility
image















Final note: If you're having a problem with your iPhone/iPod touch and you are going to have Apple check it out, more than likely they will keep it and replace it with a refurbished unit, so make sure your iPhone/iPod touch is totally erased before you take it in. Oh, and one more thing. If the photos above look like they may be from your previous iPhone, please email us.

Mac Owners Support Group -- aka MacOSG -- was conceived by Dave Merten, the former 'Focus on Mac Support' guide at About.com. Since it's humble beginning as 'G5 Owners Support Group' back in February 2004, MacOSG has become one of the world's fastest-growing online Apple User Groups, dedicated to helping Mac users from all over the globe.

[url=http://www.macosg.com]MacOSG Home[/url] | [url=http://www.macosg.com/group/index.php]Support Forums[/url] | [url=http://macosg.com/group/viewtopic.php?t=78]Become a Member[/url]
[url=http://macosgpodcast.com]MacOSG Podcast[/url] | [url=http://mac611.com/]Mac611 Mobile Mac Support[/url]

Email us: admin AT macosg.com

image"Macsimum News" is a proud supporter of [url=http://planetgumbo.org/]Planet Gumbo[/url], which feeds the hungry. We urge you to help them in their efforts.

 
AAPL
$122.77
Apple Inc.
-1.73
GOOG
$627.26
Google Inc.
+3.70
MSFT
$45.35
Microsoft Corporation
-0.59
MacNews Search:
Community Search:
view counter

view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter
view counter

Mazes of Karradash (Games)
Mazes of Karradash 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: The city of Karradash is under attack: the monsters of the Shadow Realms are emerging from the depths.No adventurer is strong enough to defeat the horde alone, but the whole people of Karradash is ready to fight. | Read more »
Battle Golf is the Newest Game from the...
Wrassling was a pretty weird - and equally great - little wressling game. Now the developers, Folmer Kelly and Colin Lane, have turned their attention to a different sport: golfing. This is gonna be weird. [Read more] | Read more »
Qbert Rebooted has the App Store Going...
The weird little orange... whatever... is back, mostly thanks to that movie which shall remain nameless (you know the one). But anyway it's been "rebooted" and now you can play the fancy-looking Qbert Rebooted on iOS devices. [Read more] | Read more »
Giant Monsters Run Amok in The Sandbox...
So The Sandbox has just hit version number 1.99987 (seriously), and it's added a lot more stuff. Just like every other update, really. [Read more] | Read more »
Fish Pond Park (Games)
Fish Pond Park 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $2.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: Nurture an idyllic slice of tourist's heaven into the top nature spot of the nation, furnishing it with a variety of services like inns, tours, and more! | Read more »
Look after Baby Buddy on your Apple Watc...
Parigami Gold is the new premium version of the match three puzzler that includes Apple Watch support and all new content. You won't simply be sliding tiles around on your wrist, the Apple Watch companion app is an all new mini-game in itself. You'll have to take care of Baby Buddy, your cute little pet bird that needs feeding and playing with to... | Read more »
Swallow all of your opponents as the big...
Eat all of the opposition and become the largest ball in Battle of Balls now available in the App Store and Google Play. Battle of Balls pits you against other opponents in real time and challenges you to eat more balls and grow larger than all of your opponents. [Read more] | Read more »
PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX (Games)
PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX 1.0.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $4.99, Version: 1.0.0 (iTunes) Description: It’s Your World. EAT IT! Get ready for more ghost chain gobbling and frantic action in PAC-MAN® CE-DX! The award-winning chomping video game makes a shattering debut on mobile with even more content than... | Read more »
incurve (Games)
incurve 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Games Price: $.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Get ready for 2 different gravitiesGoal is to hit as many white dots on your way up.When you're touching the screen, the dots have a surrounding gravity on.Use this as an advantage to get higher.• One touch game• GameCenter... | Read more »
Crossy Road has its Own Merch Store Now....
Do you like Crossy Road? I mean do you really like Crossy Road? Well then you're in luck! Hipster Whale has opened up a Crossy Road store, so you can show off your fandom via official T-shirts. [Read more] | Read more »
All contents are Copyright 1984-2010 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.