How law enforcement bypasses your smartphone’s encryption

The main difference between Full Protection and AFU is how quick and easy it is for applications to access keys to decrypt data. When the data is in the Full Protection state, the keys to decrypt it are stored deep in the operating system and encrypted by themselves. But once the device is unlocked for the first time after reboot, many encryption keys start to be stored in the quick access memory, even when the phone is locked. At this point, an attacker could find and exploit certain types of security vulnerabilities in iOS to acquire accessible encryption keys in memory and decrypt large chunks of data from the phone.

Based on available reports on smartphone access tools, such as those from Israeli law enforcement contractor Cellebrite and US-based forensic access company Grayshift, the researchers realized that this is the way almost all smartphone login tools probably work right now. It is true that a specific type of OS vulnerability is needed to grab the …

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