Met Police rolling out new phone-zapping tool that can copy your info in minutes

Met Police rolling out new phone-zapping tool that can copy your info in minutesLondon's Metropolitan Police are to start using new software that will dramatically fast-track the process of extracting data from a suspect's mobile phone.

The Aceso mobile phone data extraction software from intelligence industry specialist Radio Tactics will reportedly enable officers to extract call and messaging info on the spot, even if the SIM card is locked.

The idea is to streamline the evidence-gathering process, enabling officers to act on incriminating information found on a suspect's phone on the spot, rather than having to wait for results to return from the digital forensic lab, which in low-level cases often takes weeks.

Met deputy assistant commissioner Steven Kavanagh said the software would speed up the evidence-gathering process dramatically, effectively giving each Borough its own forensic lab rather than everyone having to rely on a central facility burdened struggling under an ever-increasing workload.

“Mobile phones and other devices are increasingly being used in all levels of criminal activity,” Kavanagh said. “Our ability to act on forensically-sound, time-critical information, from SMS to images contained on a device quickly gives us an advantage in combating crime, notably in terms of identifying people of interest quickly and progressing cases more efficiently.”

The other side to that argument, however, is that in today's climate of the ends justifying pretty much any means, a system that gives officers the power to scan a suspect's mobile phone on the spot based only on the suspicion of wrongdoing is open to significant abuse and raises very real privacy concerns, even assuming there are safeguards in place.

But with social networks and messaging platforms such as BlackBerry's BBM having been widely blamed for playing a central part in last year's London riots, those concerns are unlikely to be any more than half-hearted.

However, Radio Tactics boss Andy Gill has indirectly implied that Aceso has difficulties penetrating BlackBerry's security measures, with TechRadar quoting him referring to RIM's mobile hardware “an interesting challenge”.

Which suggests that even if BlackBerry wasn't already the number one choice for looters and miscreants last year, it sure will be now.

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13 comments

OFI  May. 20, 2012 at 13:36

How can this work with the vast number of diallers and messaging apps available on the likes of android?

With their custom configurations.

on varying storage locations.

on possibly encrypted phones


10p says this works on a handful of untouched popular phones at best.

JanSt / MOD  May. 20, 2012 at 13:54

How can this work with the vast number of diallers and messaging apps available on the likes of android?

With their custom configurations.

on varying storage locations.

on possibly encrypted phones


10p says this works on a handful of untouched popular phones at best.


Oh, boy... sorry, but there is a Billion $$$ 'security'/'anti-terror'/'war on drugs' industry behind this. Plus DARPA plus DHS...
You think they cannot do this?

In many US states it has been done for close to 2 years. They tear the entire content from an iPhone in 3 minutes. UCLA have sued because they have done so in routine traffic checkpoints.

This is NOT GOOD, amigos. Not good.
Don't forget: these are the folks who will put you on a no-flight list because your name is similar to the one of the uncle of a dude who once drank beers with a hairdresser who cuts the hair of the sister of the stripper from a nightclub where a Mohammed Atta once, maybe, or maybe not drank a gin tonic.

And even when they realise you are NOT that dude, you WILL remain on that no-fly list!

Dito: Do you think they will 'delete' your phone's content once you have been proven innocent? Will they ever ;)

Here's more: "under 2 minutes" http://thenextweb.com/us/2011/04/20/us-police-can-copy-your-iphones-contents-in-under-two-minutes/

And here the UCLA's "When the iPhone meets the Fourth Amendment" http://www.uclalawreview.org/?p=221

JanSt / MOD  May. 20, 2012 at 14:09

Which suggests that even if BlackBerry wasn't already the number one choice for looters and miscreants last year, it sure will be now

Whoa...


whoa...


whoa...

Ironically, they also used to be the favourite phones for the "miscreants" (it's funny how much nicer NAZI-lingo sounds in English with a French twist ;) Herr James :p ) who robbed us all blind; and who sustain social conditions just perfect to stir unrest....
but hey, it's 'just phones' we're talking about.

barrybarryk  May. 20, 2012 at 16:56

They buy access to built in backdoors, it's how its worked for years. The only new thing is it wont just be the major e-crimes departments that have access.

Most of the info doesn't even come from the phone itself, they just grab the temp ids the sim has used on the network and the times each id was used then the network carrier gives them the rest from their logs. As for dumping the nand and memory cards well that's not rocket science, and unless you've used your own encryption algo and encrypted it by hand yourself I guarantee they'll have no problem decrypting it

JanSt / MOD  May. 20, 2012 at 17:21

They buy access to built in backdoors, it's how its worked for years. The only new thing is it wont just be the major e-crimes departments that have access.

Most of the info doesn't even come from the phone itself, they just grab the temp ids the sim has used on the network and the times each id was used then the network carrier gives them the rest from their logs. As for dumping the nand and memory cards well that's not rocket science, and unless you've used your own encryption algo and encrypted it by hand yourself I guarantee they'll have no problem decrypting it


Yep...

As I said: In some US states traffic cops have used the tech for no discernible reason whatsoever...

And of course: if you securely encrypt your stuff, you're practically a criminal, and they'll force you to decrypt. A few US judges have thrown out cases, but it is definitely not a good
step. Anyone buying into the 'criminal thread' excuse, is a fool. Sorry.

Look at the history of the 'war on drugs' and the 'war on terror'.
The ricin plot that wasn't etc etc....excuses to curtail hard-fought-for freedoms.
The Patriot Act was outlined under Clinton and Reno long before 9/11...

It is all a big farce. We go and kill people to bring them democracy; we surrender our privacy to protect our privacy... and as George W. said: to show them terr'ist, go and shop shop shop.

I just read an interesting factoid from media-analysts: for every single occurence of the term 'citizen' in the MSM, the term 'consumer' appears 74 times! Shop and shut up.

Dark days. Dark days...

Betas  May. 21, 2012 at 14:33

This reminds me of a thread on Maemo talk (no racism intended, just quoting someone there who hates a non-American phone OS.

"
Lumiaman: People in the developed world don't buy Taliban phones.
Random guy 1: What is a "Taliban" phone?
Random guy 2: @random guy1: A phone without NSA backdoors i.e. Maemo/Meego
"

Hehe, made me chuckle but reminds me how much of a big brother state we all live it.

JanSt / MOD  May. 21, 2012 at 16:31

Yep, well said.

CTPAHHIK  May. 22, 2012 at 08:42

At least it just a matter of time until someone blocks data dumping in Android kernel. It should not be that difficult to lock SIM and data partition on kernel level.
Much harder to do it for non-Android phones.

Since recovery has access to data partition it's trivial to implement a password check before giving access to recovery functions. Either you enter correct password to access recovery functions and nandroid backup or a full wipe first. Same way Blackberries work now.

JanSt / MOD  May. 22, 2012 at 11:52

IRRELEVANT.
Do you guys think that, once you're in the situation, the authorities will nod and say, "oh, of course Sir, we understand your device is beautifully encrypted. You move on an have a nice day'????? o_O

We had a similar thing going with the FB passwords that some US employers now ask of applicants... having a really good password, OR EVEN saying, "sorry, I'm not on Facebook"... those 2 strategies won't help you. THINK. It's not about the technology. IT'S about the frame of mind it creates.

barrybarryk  May. 22, 2012 at 13:03

At least it just a matter of time until someone blocks data dumping in Android kernel. It should not be that difficult to lock SIM and data partition on kernel level.
Much harder to do it for non-Android phones.

Since recovery has access to data partition it's trivial to implement a password check before giving access to recovery functions. Either you enter correct password to access recovery functions and nandroid backup or a full wipe first. Same way Blackberries work now.
You can't block "data dumping" memory you can't read from may as well not be there and if the kernel can read it with login credentials then it can be accessed OUTSIDE of the kernel without those credentials, adding a password check would be about as pointless as a PIN code.

The ONLY way to keep data secure on a phone is to just not put it there. Oddly enough a device that's constantly connected to a myriad of external networks across every conceivable networking technology has a pretty massive attack surface.

CTPAHHIK  May. 22, 2012 at 15:56

IRRELEVANT.
Do you guys think that, once you're in the situation, the authorities will nod and say, "oh, of course Sir, we understand your device is beautifully encrypted. You move on an have a nice day'????? o_O

We had a similar thing going with the FB passwords that some US employers now ask of applicants... having a really good password, OR EVEN saying, "sorry, I'm not on Facebook"... those 2 strategies won't help you. THINK. It's not about the technology. IT'S about the frame of mind it creates.



Why do you lock your car? That's not going to stop a professional car thief. Get my point?

OFI  Oct. 24, 2012 at 21:50

How can this work with the vast number of diallers and messaging apps available on the likes of android?

With their custom configurations.

on varying storage locations.

on possibly encrypted phones


10p says this works on a handful of untouched popular phones at best.

CTPAHHIK  Oct. 25, 2012 at 11:54

Same way all messaging/dialer apps work on android. Storage format is standard across the platform. Messaging/dialer app is just a wrapper designed to present same info in different ways.

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