Freezing Android phones can reveal confidential content
The team said that Android's data scrambling system was good for end users but a nightmare for law enforcement and forensics workers. Researchers Tilo Muller, Michael Spreitzenbarth and Felix Freiling put Android phones in a freezer for an hour until the device had cooled to below -10C.
They discovered that quickly connecting and disconnecting the battery of a frozen phone forced the handset into a vulnerable mode, which helped them restart it with some custom-built software rather than its Android operating system. The software helped them copy data on a phone that could then be analysed on a separate computer.
The German research group is now working on defences against the attack that ensures encryption keys are never put in vulnerable memory chips. Instead they are only used in the memory directly attached to a phone's processor.
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